The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 226)
The Apostle Paul’s gospel message from Romans 5:12-17, speaks of two men, Adam and Jesus Christ. Both these men have profoundly impacted the human race. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “The whole story of the human race can be summed up in terms of what has happened because of Adam, and what has happened and will yet happen because of Jesus Christ.”
Through One Man
Paul says that “sin came into the world through one man” (v. 12). What does the word ‘world’ mean? In that context, it means the world of humanity, that is, the human race. It speaks about the introduction of sin into the human race through one man.
The phrase, ‘through one man’ is important to note. Adam is the ‘one man’, the first created human being. Paul is going to compare Adam with another ‘one man’ (v. 15), a far greater figure who came after Adam, who is Jesus Christ. Paul calls Christ the ‘second Adam’ or ‘last Adam’ in 1 Corinthians 15:45 & 47, to point out the pivotal role of Adam and Jesus in the destiny of mankind.
God created Adam and Eve as the first man and woman, sinless in nature (Gen 1:31), and placed them in a garden paradise. God gave one command to Adam that he must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, otherwise he would surely die (Gen 2:16-17). Adam wilfully disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit.
Hence, Adam committed sin against God. Sin is disobedience to God, breaking His law and it amounts to rebellion against God. Adam disobeyed God and was responsible for sin. He could have obeyed, but he chose to disobey. This is the original sin.
Sin may be pleasurable for a short while but it never satisfies. Did Adam find fulfilment after eating the forbidden fruit? No, for immediately, Adam experienced shame, guilt and fear. After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve hid themselves in shame when God came to seek them. Sin caused an immediate loss of fellowship with God. Sin also caused corruption in Adam’s own nature (Gen 3:7-10) and brought curse to the created world (Gen 3:17, Rom 8:20). The impact of sin is awful and terrifying!
Spread of Sin
Verse 12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin and so death spread to all men because all sinned”. This verse states three truths – first, that sin entered the world and the human race through one man, Adam; second, sin resulted in death - physical, spiritual and eternal death; third, death spread to all men because all have sinned.
All men are guilty and condemned through Adam, as Paul says in verse 18, “one trespass led to condemnation for all men”. Furthermore, in verse 19, Paul says that “by the one man’s disobedience, we are made sinners”. In other words, we inherited the sinful nature of Adam and that sinful nature is in each of us.
Because we are born with a sinful nature, we have a natural inclination to rebel and disobey God. The sinful behaviour is obvious even in young children who disobey their parents naturally. In our natural state, we may seek fulfilment and pleasure, but we do not seek God (Rom 3:11).
Reign of Death
Paul explains how we may know that men inherited the guilt and sin nature of Adam in verses 13-14. Men still died even though they did not transgress the way Adam did. The reason is that men’s sin is in them because they are sinners by nature and death is the inevitable consequence.
Some people find it hard to accept the fact that sin and death spread to all men through one man, Adam. Some may say that this is not fair. Before you protest against God, hold your judgment until you come to verses 15-17, and see the enormous grace of God.
Free Gift in Christ
God offers salvation as a free gift because no one can ever achieve salvation by any way. No one can earn salvation by his own effort through the keeping of the law or good works. Paul says in Galatians 2:16, “by works of the law no one will be justified”.
God requires perfection from us as He is perfect (Matt 5:48). God’s standard of righteousness refers to His perfection in every attribute including morality, justice, uprightness. However, God’s standard is simply beyond human’s ability to achieve. To illustrate with an easy example, God’s standard may be likened to setting a standard for long-jump. The Olympics’ record for long-jump is about 30 feet. If the minimum requirement for long-jump is set at 100 feet long, who can ever manage it? Nobody - this is humanly impossible. Yet, in His mercy and grace, God provides the way to meet His standard.
Justification in Christ
On the other hand, justification means the pronouncement of righteousness by God. Sins of repentant sinners are forgiven in Christ and removed by the precious blood of Christ through faith. Moreover, believers are clothed or credited with Christ’s righteousness. This is the grace of God.
Believers Reign in Christ
The word ‘reign’ means to rule like a king with final authority. Which master rules in your life – death or life? It cannot be both. In this sense, all men are at a crossroad of choice, either to remain in Adam (death) or to choose Christ (life). Christ says in Matthew 7:13-14 that there are two gates – the broad gate or the narrow gate. The way for the broad gate is easy and many enter it, but it leads to destruction. The way for the narrow gate is difficult and few find it, but it leads to life. Christ is the narrow gate.
Christ Surpasses Adam
Christ had accomplished much in His life and death. No matter what we have lost in Adam, we gain much more in Christ when we believe and trust in Him. Christ is not just an ordinary man, He is also fully God, the second person in the Godhead. A believer is a new creation and is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Godhead (2 Cor 5:17, John 14:17). A believer is a transformed person, freed from the slavery of sin.
Does God’s Forgiveness Extend to All Sins?
So, are all sins forgivable? Yes, all sins of a truly repentant sinner are forgiven by God. Anyone who repents of his sins receives forgiveness. Anyone who turns from sin to God through Christ receives forgiveness of sins. For true believers, their sins have been placed on Christ at the cross, as affirmed in Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross”.
No sin is beyond the grace of God. We receive all the benefits of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith means a commitment to Christ, trust in Christ, with our mind, heart and will. Saving faith is not passive, but it leads a person to look to Christ, embrace Christ, and receive Christ. The only way sin is forgiven is by faith in Christ – a relationship with Christ through faith.
God is rich in kindness, tolerance and patience (Rom 2:4). The Apostle Peter says that God “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance and faith always happen together. Without repentance, there is no forgiveness; where there is no faith in Christ, there can be no salvation.
There is a grave danger for a person who has heard the Gospel repeatedly without a heart response. A persistent and continual resistance to the Gospel may lead to a dull and hardened heart. Do not let that happen to you.
The command to repent and believe in Christ is clear. If you have heard the command of God, do not delay in your response to the call, as you do not know how long more you will live. Physical death will seal the fate of a person eternally. It is foolish to disobey the command of God for “Everyone who believes in Him (Christ) will not be disappointed.” for “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:11, 13).