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The Deadly Nature of Sin (Romans 5:12-14)

The Sin Problem

The Deadly Nature of Sin

Romans 5:12-14


I find that very often as I'm preparing for a sermon, if I will keep my ears and eyes open, God will point me toward another subject that needs our attention. Such was the case recently as I was preparing to preach on the family.


In one of the messages, I dealt with two of the things that compound the difficulty of parenting. One is the culture that surrounds our children and the other is the nature within our children. And as I was processing all of that, it occurred to me that both of those problems root back to a sin problem.


And that sin problem is what I'd like to spend some time exploring over the next few weeks. We refer to sin a lot, and we read a lot about it in our Bibles. The entrance of sin occurs very early in Scripture and maintains a constant presence until the closing chapters of the Bible where we finally come to a place prepared by God for His children that is free from sin.


So we know a lot about sin, both intellectually and experientially. Not a day goes by that each and every one of us deals with sin, both in the world around us and present within us.


But what is sin? And if it really is the problem the Bible presents it to be, how did it gain such power and influence? Well, that and the answers to many other questions is what I want us to discover.


Perhaps the best place to begin is by exploring the root of sin. Where do all our evil thoughts, words, and actions stem from? What is beneath our sin?

At its most fundamental position, what is sin?


Now many would respond by saying, "That's simple! Everyone knows what sin is! It is disobedience to God. It is doing wrong things instead of right things!” And that is a very common answer. Most people interpret sin as doing bad things, and that is true. However, it doesn’t go far enough in that it falls short of the Biblical definition of sin.


Many people never learn to successfully deal with the sin in their life because they are dealing only with the fruit of their sin instead of the root of their sin.

So what is the root of sin? What is behind all the sinful actions and words and attitudes and thoughts?


Some might say, well how do you know there is something deeper? Maybe sin is just doing wrong things. I believe there is something deeper because of something Paul wrote in Romans 7. Listen to


verse 8


Did you catch it? Paul says that sin produced all manner of evil desire. In other words, sin produced sins. There is a presence, a force, a part of us that causes all these evils to flow from us. All the evil in the world flows out something that is part of the core of every person’s being. And that something is what theologians refer to as our sin nature.


So my aim this morning is to discover what is the essence of this sin nature. I want to begin today with what many people believe to be the most difficult passage in the book of Romans. And I will admit, at first reading it sounds intensely complex, and in a sense it is. It is a profoundly complex text.


But in another sense it's wonderfully simple and extremely clear. And I think by the time we're finished today, you'll be able to fully comprehend what it says to us about the nature and presence of sin. Listen to what we read in


Romans 5:12-21


Notice in verse 12 we are told that "death passed upon all men" And notice, in particular, the phrase in verse 14, "death reigned". And if we continued reading, we would see that phrase again n verse 17 and again in verse 21.


I bring that repetition to your attention simply to point out that Paul is teaching his hearers that death is king over the human race. Death reigns. Because of sin, death reigns over human beings.


And we know that to be true and we don't have to travel any farther than the local cemetery to find all the evidence that we need. All of humanity, at some time, comes to face death. Millions of people die every year and that is the fate of everyone except those who will be alive at the rapture of the church.


In fact, I read about some undertaker somewhere who signs his correspondence, "Eventually yours." Everyone dies and death reigns.


But why? Why is it that death holds such power? Why is it that everyone must die? How did death come to be the reigning monarch of the world?


The answer is found right here in our text. But I want to point something out to you. Even though this passage tells us why people die, the intention of this passage is not primarily to teach us why people die. There is a bigger and more important lesson to be learned and this information about dying just comes along with the bigger subject.


It seems to me the primary point that Paul wants to make is that the action of one man can affect many people. That's the primary principle. Keep that in mind and we'll return to that thought in a moment.


If we were to take the time to study the first chapters of Romans, we would find Paul describing the lostness and sin of all humanity. In fact, in the first chapter alone, he says that sin suppresses the truth about God. Even though God has revealed truth, people ignore it or refuse to believe it.


Not only that, sin doesn't honor God or give him thanks. Sin hates the idea of glorifying and thanking God. It hates the truth that God is infinitely worthy of all honor and thanks. In fact, sin always searches for a replacement for God and in Paul's words, winds up worshipping creation rather than the Creator.


And the end result is "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge" which simply means, people don't like God. They don’t want God. They would rather the true and living God did not exist, because they don't want to be confronted with God's truth.


So notice how God responds to being ignored:


Romans 1:24-28


Those verses are telling us that the sinful behaviors of mankind are the product of a sinful nature. Then Paul goes on to list 21 different outward sins that flow from this inward sinful nature. And the bottom line is as a result of a sinful nature, we don't like God, we don't want God and we will do anything we can to avoid God. And the final assessment is found in


Romans 3:10-18


In fact, as verse 19 tells us, all the world is guilty before God. And the reason is


Romans 3:23


Now, that's the bad news. But then, beginning in the second half of chapter 3 and in chapter 4 and in the first half of chapter 5, he tells how Christ has done something about man's sin and lostness. Through His death on the cross, Christ has justified all who come to Him in faith.


Now the logical question that any thinking person would ask is, "How is that possible? If the whole world is guilty before God, how can what one Man did 2,000 years ago make it possible for all that sin to be forgiven? How can what one man did at one time affect so many?"


Well, verses 12 to 21 of chapter 5 is Paul's answer to that question. And he answers with a comparison between Adam and Jesus.

In one act of sin, Adam affected the whole human race. And just as one man's act of sin affected many so does the death of Christ affect many also. In fact, that is Paul's summary thought in


verse 19


In Jesus Christ all men can be reconciled to God just as through Adam all men were alienated from God. That's his whole point in the text.


And in making that point, Paul provides the answer to our question about why people die. Now the answer to the question revolves around three primary words or phrases. One of those words is used eleven times in this passage and that is the word "one". The other word is the word "reign" and it is used five times.


On the one hand, we have one man named Adam who reigns over the kingdom of sin and death and on the other hand, we have Christ and He reigns over the kingdom of righteousness and life.


The other phrase is "much more" and it used five times. And Paul uses it to say that everything lost in Adam is gained and much more in Christ.


So that's what we are looking at in this comparative analogy. We are looking the action of one man who influences the entirety of the human race through one act. On the negative side is Adam and his sin, and because of that one act, all men are condemned. On the positive side is Christ, and because of his obedience, all men are offered pardon.


Because we are considering the nature and influence of sin and for the sake of time, we'll limit our study to Adam and the reign of death.


verses 12-14


So here we are told that Adam is a picture of the One Who was to come. So that means he is a picture of Jesus, but understand he is a picture in opposites. One is positive; the other is negative.


That means the picture is of Christ only in the sense that one man could affect so many. Everything else about the analogy is an opposite. In Adam you have sin and condemnation and death. In Christ you have obedience, righteousness and life. But it is similar in that something one person did a long time ago is still affecting people today. That is Paul's point.


As we study these three verses, I want to point out four progressive truths in Paul's presentation. And what these four truths do is take us all the way back to the origin of sin in the human experience. If you want to discover the root of the sin problem, as far as mankind is concerned, here it is.


This is the key to understanding everything. It tells us why man is the way he is. It tells us why death is the reigning king. It tells us why human history has gone the way it's gone. It tells us why man has a sin nature that opposes God. All of those are understood in light of this text. So it is a tremendously important passage.


Here's the first truth:


1. Sin Entered the World through One Man


Isn't that what we read in verse 12? And please note, it does not say that Adam originated sin. Sin had already originated prior to Adam. The Bible says the devil sinned from the beginning. Now I don't know what beginning that was, but it was before the beginning of creation of the world, therefore sin predates Adam.


So Adam didn't originate sin, nor did Eve. They learned it from the one who originated it, the devil. Adam was simply the one who introduced it into the human realm. That's why it says as by one man sin entered not into existence, but into the cosmos, into the human system, into mankind.


Let's go back to Genesis 2 and see how it happened.


Genesis 2:15


So here we find the first created man in a perfect garden paradise, without any sin.


verse 17


That is a very simple prohibition. Anyone here who doesn't understand what God meant? I didn't think so.


Chapter 3:1


Enter the serpent and as he converses with Eve, he questions God's Word. Did God really say that?




So she understand what God meant also! In fact, so serious is this command that either she or Adam added this prohibition about even touching the tree! Maybe Adam added that when he told her about it just to make sure she left it alone.


It's kind of like when us men say to our wife, "We absolutely have to leave by 7:30." And you really don't need to leave until 8:30, but you also know your wife so you stress the time!


We don't know whether Adam is putting up a fence to keep Eve away or whether she just threw that in. But she knows that she's not supposed to eat the forbidden fruit.


verses 4-6


So what we've just read is a description of outright disobedience. And that is the fall of man. Their eyes were opened, they knew they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together for coverings because they were self-conscious and embarrassed. They wanted to hide from God. They tried to run and hide but He found them and He cursed them in verses 14 and following. Not only did He curse them, He cursed their marriage and creation and Satan. And that's the Fall of mankind.


Now, I want you to think about something: God gave Adam only one command and that one thing kept Adam in a position of submission to God. In other words, God gave the commands and Adam obeyed or disobeyed. If there had been no commands, then Adam would have had the same right to rule as God had.

But by giving him just one prohibition, God put Adam in a position of being under His authority. It was God's way of saying, "I'm God and you're not. And to prove it, I'm going to give you this one thing to remind your of that."


But you know as well as I there is something about man that can't stand to be ruled, even at that one small point. What did we read a moment ago about man and God? He did not like to retain God in his knowledge.


Man didn't want to obey God. He wanted to be like God and not answer to anybody and that was the temptation. By the way, that's the same sin that brought down Satan. He wanted to be God also and that's why he was kicked out of heaven.


So Satan, who wanted to be like God, came and tempted Eve and Adam to want to be like God and to not be under submission to anyone or anything, and when they sinned, something terrible happened.


What was it? We just read it back in Romans 1:28? God gave them over to a debased mind, sin entered the picture, took up residence in mankind in very nature. The sin of Adam and Eve brought a change of unholiness into the very nature of mankind. That which had been pure and unstained by sin or disobedience was suddenly corrupt and sinful.


Now I want to point out a critical word in verse 12. Please notice that it says in verse 12 that "sin", not "sins" entered the world. Understand, he's not talking about acts or deeds or individual examples of disobedience. He's describing the nature and character of mankind.

When Adam sinned, the sin principle, the corrupt decaying nature of sin entered into the human stream. And just like Adam passed on to his posterity a nose, and eyes, and ears, arms and legs, he passed on the nature of sin.


You see, God made us as a procreating race so that what we are is passed on to who we bear. So once Adam and Eve were corrupted with sin, there was no way for any descendents of theirs to escape being sinful. Once the human bloodline was polluted, it guaranteed that everybody born would be polluted.


In fact, the pollution intensifies through history and Paul says in 2 Timothy that evil men get worse and worse. Instead of evolution, it's devolution, and if you need any evidence, just look around at the world in which you are living.


So, truth number one, sin entered the world through one man. Number two:


2. Death Entered the World Through Sin


Romans 5:12


What did God tell Adam? “In the day you eat you shall surely die.” So with the sinful, corrupting principle came some consequences. And the consequences for sin is death. God gave that warning from the very beginning and repeated it often.


Ezekiel said, "The soul that sins will die." Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death."


That means death entered the human experience as a penalty for sin, which means the man that God created was not created to die. Death is not natural to the constitution of man as created in the image of God. It came as a punishment for disobedience.


We were never made for death which means hell was never made for us. It was made for the devil and his angels, not for us. That was never to be our place. But when we sinned in Adam and the evil was passed on through all the generations, along with that evil came its consequence of death.


So if Adam hadn't sinned, what would have happened? Well he would either have been taken to heaven without ever dying or life on earth would have continued as Adam and Eve enjoyed in the first place. Maybe the experience of Enoch and Elijah would have been the norm and you just blasted off one day and went to heaven!


But we would never have known or experienced death if sin hadn't entered the picture. Death is the unavoidable outcome of the poison that sin injected into the human race.


So through one man, Adam, sin entered the world and death came because of the sin. And notice, the reference again, is singular. Don't miss that. People don't die because they commit sins. They die because they are sinners. It is a nature problem not a conduct problem.


Now to be sure, when sin entered the human realm, it resulted in sins. But we need to be reminded that we are not sinners because we sin. Instead, we sin because we are sinners.

You're not a liar because you told a lie. You told that lie because in your heart you're a liar. You thought it up and planned it before you ever said it. And you're not a murderer because you killed somebody. You kill them because in your heart you're a murderer.


Jesus said evil and murders and so forth proceed out of the heart. So we are sinners, no doubt about it. But we are sinners because of the sin nature that was passed down to us from Adam. And the result of the sin is death.


So what kind of death is this text talking about? Well, to answer that, we need to understand there are three kinds of death. There is physical death which is separation from the living, there is spiritual death, which separates us from the Living God, and there is eternal death which separates us from the living God and the living who are living in the presence of the living God.


So what kind of death is referenced here? powerful is the effect of sin, it affects every level of death. When Adam disobeyed, sin entered the human race and its influence is such that every human ever born enters the world spiritually dead. We come into the world heading for physical death and if something doesn't happen to make us spiritually alive, we will experience eternal death.


And it all happened from one man. One man did that to the whole human race. You say, "Well if I would have been there I wouldn't have done it." Doesn't matter. I guarantee if Adam could have backed up five minutes after he did it and done it over again, he wouldn't have done it either.


Sin came through one man and death came through sin. And it just keeps getting worse. The third truth is


3. Death Spread to All Men because All Sinned


Now at this point is where the teaching becomes a little more difficult. Up until now, it's pretty straightforward. And the concept is fairly easy to understand. But the little phrase included at the end of verse 12 muddies the water a little bit.


"death spread to all men, because all have sinned"


The first part, we understand. We just talked about that. Death spread to all men and nobody escapes because everybody has a sin nature because Adam sinned and introduced the whole thing and passed it on. And just like we got eyes and ears and noses and arms and legs, we got sin from him. So far, so good. But he adds that phrase at the end of verse 12, "because all have sinned."


So when did that happen? How could Paul say that of people who hadn't even been born yet? What he means is it all happened in the loins of Adam. We sinned in Adam because he is who we are.


Now if you find that hard to understand, I'm glad because it's impossible for me to understand! And I sure don't want to be all alone in trying to figure it out! So how do we handle this phrase? We just accept it by faith. We were born dead in trespasses and sin. And if we never lived long enough to commit an act of sin, we would be worthy of death because we sinned in Adam. That's what Paul is saying.

You say, "Well, I'm not sure I've done that." Yes you have. Just give it enough time, and you'll prove the sin nature is alive and well and fully operational.


Let me give you a critical key to understanding sin: Our sinfulness is not the result of our sinning, it is the cause of our sinning and all we need is time to demonstrate that truth. When a baby comes into the world you don't have to teach a baby how to disobey. You take the necessary measures to teach him how to obey.


I promise you, the sin nature is at work from the very first breath. And if you don't believe that, just leave him alone and see what happens. You'll have to put him in prison by the time he's eight. Because of the bloodline we share with Adam, the sin nature is present and accounted for.


By the way, do you know why Jesus had to be born of a virgin and bypass a human father? He had to be created in the body of Mary by the Holy Spirit, bypassing the human race and an earthly father or else, He would have been born a sinner. People say, "Is the virgin birth important?" Yeah it's important.


And if you want to understand how strong is the temptation to sin, think about this: Adam sinned and didn't even have a sin nature. And by the way, he wasn't even tricked or deceived. He just flat out sinned, willfully, deliberately, in full consciousness of what he was doing. Even understanding the consequences, he still deliberately chose to sin.


And when he did, he was indwelt with a brand new experience called a sin nature and through that one act of disobedience, he brought death upon himself and he passed it on to everybody else because we all sinned in his loins, as he represented all of human history.


Now I know this is difficult to understand and it raises all kinds of questions. For instance, people ask: Well, how can I sin in Adam when I wasn't even there? How can I be held responsible for doing something I didn't physically do?


Well, let me ask you this: Are you willing to accept that you died and were resurrected to a new life in Christ? If you say "yes", then how could you do that when you weren't even there?


After all, you didn't literally die on the cross. And you didn't literally go into the grave. And you didn't literally come out of the grave. But you welcomed the understanding that in a spiritual sense, somehow in the marvelous miraculous mind of God, He put you in Christ on the cross and in the grave with Christ and out to walk in newness of life, and you're eager to accept that and excited to accept it.


To be honest, I can't understand either one! But I can accept them by faith! I can accept that I sinned in Adam and I'm accountable to God, and I can rejoice that when Christ died on the cross and rose from the grace, He took me along for the ride and I can be saved from sin through Him!


Someone says, "Well, it's just not fair that God would hold me accountable for something I didn't do or have any say in.


I didn't ask to be born and when I was born I had two sinners for parents. And it wasn't their fault because they had four sinners for parents. And if you just keep going back you're going to find a whole bunch of sinners till you get back to Adam. I didn't ask to be born. I just arrived in the hospital and there I was, a sinner, condemned to hell. Is that fair? Is that just?


Again, let me respond with a question: Is it fair that Jesus had to die for you? Is it just that millions of sinners should be saved by the grace of God? Is that just? Is it fair that you should be able to go to heaven when you had nothing to do with the payment for the penalty of your sin? After all, you weren't there when it happened! Somebody else acted on your behalf.


You don't want to be a sinner when somebody else sinned, but you sure don't mind getting saved when somebody else paid the penalty for your sin. It's the same question. That's why this analogy is so amazing! It just boggles my mind and the longer I think about it the more frustrating it becomes! It's like the man said, "You're trying to unscrew the unscrutable." It's just profound!


And the truth is the answer is bound up somewhere in the character of God and that drives us to say with Habakkuk, "God, I'm resting in knowing that You're of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on iniquity. You're from everlasting to everlasting. You don't make mistakes because you are a holy God!


Therefore, as the prophet says at the end of chapter 3, "If the figs don't grow and the fields don't produce” and nothing goes right, “I'm still going to rejoice in the God of my salvation."


In other words, what he is saying is when you can't understand things with your own human mind, you back off of the quicksand of your own lack of understanding and get on the rock of the character of God. Is God just? Yes. Is God wise? Absolutely! Is God loving and gracious and merciful? You know that He is!


Therefore, we are comforted, not in the answers that we have, but in by the character of the God that we know!


Sin entered the world through one man, death entered the world through that man, and death passed on all men because all have sinned. One final thing I want you to see from this text.


4. History Proves This to be True


verses 13-14


Now watch how Paul presents this truth: The main thought is that death reigned from Adam to Moses. Question: When did God give the law? He delivered it through Moses. So if death reigned from Adam to Moses, and they did not have God's law to guide their behavior, then why did people die?


Verse 13 says sin can't be charged to one's account when there is no law. In other words, you can't be guilty of breaking a rule if there is no rule.

So from Adam to Moses we have a period of time where there was no law and yet, people still died and death reigned.


So if they didn't die because they broke a law, then what caused them to die? They died and death reigned, not because of their behavior, but because of their nature. It wasn't what they did they led to their death. It was who they are.


And just like everyone else, born before the law or under the law or after the law, everyone is born on their way to hell because there is this sin nature present that was passed down to us from Adam.

And notice


verse 14


In other words, Adam sinned by breaking a direct command. God said "Don't" and he did. And God's law operates in the same way. So in a sense,

Adam's sin was a sin against God's law. But from Adam to Moses there was not an established, God-given law. So in general, sin was not like it was with Adam. People weren't violating known, revealed law. But they still died.


And his point is it wasn't because they broke God's law like Adam did. It is because of the sin nature within us.


Sin entered the world through one man. With sin, came death. Death touches every person who has ever lived because everyone is a sinner. And history proves that's true.


Now, all of that is only an illustration. Adam, in particular is a type or a picture of "Him Who was to come."


That means Adam and his place in history, including the introduction of sin into the world and the resulting death that came with it, are an illustration of a similar truth found in Jesus.


Just as one man's sin affected all, so there will come another man, the second Adam, the last Adam, and His one act will affect all as well. That man is Christ, and through His death, burial and resurrection, salvation is made available to all those who have fallen with Adam.


We'll look at that in more detail next week, But for now, you need to know you are included in the world that is touched by Adam's sin. There are no exceptions or exclusions.


That means death is inevitable. It awaits us all. You can fear it, or you can anticipate it. It can be the beginning of a worse death forever without God and without those that are alive forever. Or it can be the beginning of eternal peace and joy in the presence of the living God and those who live in His presence.


The choice is yours. Yes, you were there in Adam, and you sinned and you'll die. But you can also be there in Christ with the payment of your sins made in His death and you can rise in His resurrection to newness of life. Which will you choose?


Let's pray.


Rev.Mackie Prince
I pastor a church in Tennessee your sermon on Sin is great
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