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The Solution to the Sin Problem (Romans 5:15-21)

The Sin Problem

The Solution to the Sin Problem

Romans 5:15–21

 

We began last week a study of "The Problem of Sin". And even though we are only one week into the series, already you can see what a monumental problem it is.

 

Through one event that happened in the lives of the first human beings to live on the earth, sin entered into the human experience. And with the entrance of sin came the experience of death. And so severe is this problem, it has touched and continues to touch the lives of every human being that has ever lived or will ever live.

 

To use Paul's words in Romans 5:12, "thus death spread to all men because all have sinned." And history proves that to be true. It doesn't matter if you lived before the introduction of God's law or during the time of the law, whether you are a Jew or Gentile, male or female, all have sinned. There is none righteous, and because of this inherited sin nature, we the whole world stands guilty before God.

 

And the amazing point that Paul is making in this text is that by one act by one man, sin and corruption came into the human stream so that every human being born in all of human history is cursed with sin and headed for death. What Adam did impacted the entire human race. And the proof is we all die.

 

Now that one truth explains a whole lot of things, doesn't it? We wonder why the world is in the mess it's in and why people act the way we do, why families fall apart and why there is such death and destruction all around us. In this text, we find the answer.

 

When God created everything, it was good. And in particular, of man He said that part of creation was very good. That's chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. But then, chapter 3, Adam sins and everything becomes bad, and people in particular become very bad. And before long, brothers are killing each other and things continue to worsen and by the time you get to chapter 6, God decides to destroy everything and everyone and start over with Noah and his sons and families.

 

But unfortunately, they carried with them into the new start the same sin nature that was present before the flood, and as sinners, they produced more sinners and people kept dying and evidencing this inward nature that rebels against God until finally, you and I came along, and things are worse than they've ever been!

 

Therefore, we have a world full of crime and lawlessness. We are constantly having to create laws and courts and enforcements that attempt to l stopping people from committing crime and holding them responsible. We have more people who need to be incarcerated than the jails and prisons can hold! We have security systems and guards and policemen and armies on every corner and still we cannot control the sinful nature of man. And it all roots back to Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden.

 

Sin is a massive problem and it is almost beyond belief that one man's sin could affect so many and in such a negative way.

 

So what's the solution? Well, there is only One and that's where Paul is heading in this passage. Notice what we read in

 

Romans 5:12-21

 

So, by looking at Adam, it's easy to see how what one man did can affect many. But that is also true of the cross and what Jesus did also. Just as Adam’s sin brought death to all, Christ’s death brings life to all. And please understand, we are not talking about universalism which teaches that everybody goes to heaven. Rather, what we have in Christ is more than enough grace and forgiveness to deal with the sin problem.

 

And beginning in verse 15, Paul is going to help us make this comparison between Adam’s one act and the reign of death, and Christ’s one act and the reign of life. Remember, in verse 14 he told us that Adam is a type or a picture of the One Who was to come.

 

So Adam reminds us of Jesus in certain ways. He then spells that out by presenting five contrasting features between the two.

 

The first one speaks to their

 

1. Effectiveness

 

There was a certain effectiveness in what Adam did; there is a differing effectiveness in what Christ did.

 

verses 15

 

Now immediately, Paul introduces us to a contrast by telling us that the gift Jesus offers is not like the sin of Adam.

 

By the way, we saw last week that the little phrase "much more" is extremely important in this text. Here we see its first occurrence. Adam and Christ are alike in that what each of them did affects many, but what Christ did is "much more" effective than Adam's sin is destructive.

 

Paul is now building upon his initial declaration that by one man, sin and death came to humanity. As a result of the offense or transgression or sin, many died. But God's gracious gift also abounded to many.

 

Understand, the many in regard to Adam is everyone. That's the entire human race. The "many" who are affected by God's gift are all those who are in Christ. So here's what that means:

For all who are in Adam, there is death. For all who are in Christ, there is life.

 

And don't miss that what Christ did in His one act is much more. He does much more. The phrase occurs both in verse 17 and in verse 20.

 

Question: Is the effect of Adam’s sin devastating? Yes. Is it widespread? Yes. But the effect of Christ’s one act is much more. The evil gift of Adam is death. But the grace gift of Christ is life. And simply stated, life is much more than death. Christ is more powerful to save than Adam is to ruin us.

Adam had the power to kill, but Christ has the power to give life, and Paul piles up the expressions related to Christ in verse 15 and following. He talks about the grace of God, the gift of grace, the gift of righteousness, all coming by the one man, Jesus Christ. By grace, not by law, but by grace – free gift of grace.

 

So the grace that comes through Jesus Christ does much more than just repair the evil done by Adam. The grace of God that comes to us in Christ through His death on the cross does not just return us to a pre-fall condition, but rather, as we see at the end of verse 15, it has an abounding reality.

 

verse 15b

 

In simple language, the gift of God is better than the sin of Adam. That means the evil that entered the world through Adam has been more than neutralized or even cancelled in Christ.

 

It is not just that death is defeated. but we receive righteousness, holiness, reconciliation with God, conversion, adoption, eternal life. Sin in Adam brought death, but grace in Christ gives everlasting life.

 

Now here is a simple way to understand what that means. The effect of Adam’s sin can be and, in fact, is nullified. Let me repeat that: The effect of Adam's sin can be and is nullified in Christ. However, there is nothing in heaven or hell that will ever nullify Christ’s effectiveness through His one act.

 

Adam’s one act has been, is, and will be overturned but, never will Christ’s be negated.

I think that's what Christ had in mind when He said in John 10:27, , “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

 

“I give them eternal life and that is settled. None of them will ever perish.” What Adam brought can be overturned; what Christ brought cannot. So in the sense of effectiveness, Adam’s impact for many was temporary; Christ’s impact, for all who were in Him, was everlasting.

 

The second comparison Paul makes is the comparison of

 

2. Impact

 

verse 16

 

You will notice immediately that this verse begins in a very similar way to the previous one. He is giving us this statement of contrast. And his point is not only are they not alike, there is a huge and incalculable difference between the two. And the big difference is that just as judgment and condemnation were the results of one, justification is the result of the other.

 

Again, Paul is amplifying an earlier point. The whole human race is not just dying, they are dying as a result of judgment. The human race is a condemned race. All of us are born sinners, therefore all of us must die.

The whole universe has to be replaced. It will be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and earth. That’s how powerful sin is. One sin by one man curses the entire universe and condemns the whole human race to sin and death.

 

But on the other hand, just to show you how much greater the free gift is, what Christ gives results in humans who used to be condemned sinners being justified. The extent of the grace gift is incalculable. How do you calculate the sum total of the billions of sins that God's grace covers?

 

Let's try to wrap our brains around this idea. Think about this: Condemnation came by one sin. It only took one sin to damn the whole race. And, by the way, it was the sin of eating. That's kind of scary isn't it? One bite from one piece of fruit started the whole mess.

 

But the focus is not the fruit, but rather the eating of the fruit. That's where disobedience entered. That is a reminder that God hates sin. And remember, Adam and Eve were placed in a position of subjection. They were under the authority of God.

 

And if God says, “Don’t eat,” and you eat, that’s enough to damn the whole human race and curse the universe. That’s how bad sin is. One transgression demanded the condemnation of all.

 

On the other hand, justification cancels all the sins of all the people who are connected to Christ. What Christ did on the cross has such massive impact that even though we are damned by one sin by one man, we can be justified by it. That's the extent of forgiveness!

If the evil from which Christ saves us is incalculable, then how much greater must be the grace of God if He can save us from that sin? In fact, what Christ has done not only removed the effect of the one sin, it offers forgiveness for all the results of all of the sin of all those who ever lived!

 

Hanging on a cross in three hours of darkness, Christ absorbed the fury of God against all the sins of all the people who would ever believe. And while the suffering is inconceivable, so much greater is Christ's one act of the cross, it is also sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world!

 

Let me give you a third contrast:

 

3. Accomplishment

 

When you look at both what the sin of Adam and the sacrifice accomplished, it's easy to see the contrast between the two.

 

verse 17

 

Adam's sin produced death, and, by the way, death reigned. It was the ultimate ruler over all of human life. After all, everyone dies. That is a massive kingdom!

 

But again, Christ accomplished "much more" in that those who receive God's grace will reign in life through Jesus Christ.

 

Because grace overpowers the results of sin and the result of the work of Christ overpowers the result of the work of Adam, grace is much more able to accomplish its intended result.

And the intended result is that we should "reign in life". So what does that mean? let Paul answer with what he wrote to the church in Ephesus.

 

Ephesians 1:3-8

 

What does it mean to reign in life? It means to be lavished with all the blessings of heaven. We are kings, we’re a royal priesthood, and we have literally been lavished with all the riches of heaven.

 

Or we could let Peter answer. Listen to what he wrote in 1 Peter 1:3-5

 

The grace of God accomplished the intended result of giving us an imperishable, undefiled, unfading, eternal inheritance. That’s what it means to reign in life. That is God’s promise to us.

 

Again, Peter writes in 2 Peter1:2-4

 

That’s what it means to reign in life. Grace provides to us everything heaven can possibly lavish on you. You’re royal, therefore you rule and reign.

 

In fact, the Revelation talks about the fact that one day we will sit on the very throne upon which the Lord sits, and reign with Him.

 

There is no question that the one act of Christ accomplished far more than the one act of Adam. After all. Adam did was produce death. And death ain't no big deal to God! Through one act, Christ not only destroyed death, He made it possible for us to reign in life.

 

There’s a fourth element to this magnificent comparison that we'll call the

 

4. Nature

 

verses 18

 

Again, all men refers to all men in Adam being condemned, and all men in Christ being justified.

But what is the very nature of those acts?

 

verse 19

 

The nature of sin is disobedience and the nature of righteousness is obedience. In a nutshell, that is the very nature of sin.

 

Sin is an act, a thought, a word that is disobedient to God. God is the supreme authority. He establishes the law in the heart, as well as written and revealed in His Word, and when we disobey His law, we are simply demonstrating the nature that is on the inside.

 

It is the most natural thing in the world for unsaved people to be disobedient to God. That's what they do. In Adam we all sin and that simply means we’re all disobedient. In Old Testament terms, we disobey the law of God. And in New Testament terms, we disobey the gospel. The whole human race is characterized by disobedience to God.

 

Therefore, I’m not surprised, and you shouldn't be either, when the world rejects God’s law and God's Word. It's no surprise that the unbelieving world laughs at the Bible and disregards its account of creation and history.

That's what children of Satan do! We are born disobedient. In fact, the book of Ephesians identifies us at "the children of disobedience." What does Paul say in verse 19? Through Adam, many are made sinners. We didn't become sinners; we were made sinners. It gets passed down. It's in our DNA. That is our nature.

 

But on the other hand, by the obedience of one, Christ in His one act of obedience on the cross, the many will be made righteous. And that’s true.

 

When we trust Christ, God doesn't just equip us to do better and make better decisions. He gives us His very nature. We are made righteous. In the same way that we were born sinners, we are born again righteous. Now think about what that means: If disobedience is the normal function for those born in Adam, then obedience is the normal function for those born in Christ. We've been transformed and remade!

 

So if we’re talking about effectiveness, Christ’s work is greater than Adam’s. And if we’re talking about the impact, Christ’s is greater than Adam’s. If we’re talking about what was accomplished, Christ’s work is greater than Adam’s. And If we’re talking about the nature, Christ’s work is greater than Adam’s;

 

And one final point, and that is

 

5. Power

 

In Adam, there is a power that was unleashed in the world that cannot be stopped. In fact, even the law of God couldn't stop it.

 

verse 20

 

What happened when God's law showed up? Sin got worse! For all those who think they can be saved by keeping the law and doing good need to understand that the exact opposite happens! That means the law actually increases that sinfulness.

 

So how does that happen? It does it in two ways:

 

First, the law shows us all kinds of sins that we would never have thought of without it. For instance, God said we were to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And not to do that, not to be obedient is sin. We would have never thought of that as sin without the law telling us it was sin.

 

And, secondly, not only does the law reveal sins we would have never know about, it actually increases our sinfulness by tempting us to do those things that are prohibited.

 

When the law says, "Don’t do that!", there is something eerily seductive about how alluring that thing becomes! There is something about the sin nature that cannot resist forbidden fruits.

 

So, according to verse 20, the law actually has the power to increase sin. And unfortunately, while there is power in the human nature to sin, there is no power to control our sin. And even when we are given rules and laws and commandments, we get worse, rather than better. By the way, that’ why any religion based up keeping moral laws is fighting a losing battle.

The law, God's law or any other law has never been a means of salvation. God didn’t look at the world and say, “Boy, this world is a mess. I drowned them all, started over with 8, and they are still messed up!

I think I’ll give them the law and that’ll stop all this nonsense!”

 

No, the law was never a part of redemption because the law has no power to save mankind from sin. It can't change the heart and nature on the inside. In fact, it does just the opposite. All the law does is show you your sin and tempt you with things you aren't supposed to do!

 

But on the other hand, look at the end of verse 20: Where sin increased, grace – ” what? “ – abounded all the more.”

 

Here we find the same thought we discovered in verse 15, except now it is intensified. It's the Greek language's way of saying that the power of grace is far, far beyond; way, way beyond; infinitely beyond the power of sin.

 

How powerful is the grace of God? It is so powerful that whenever and wherever the law shows up and increases sin, Christ comes and increases grace far beyond, way beyond, over and above so that the sin is completely covered and those who commit the sin stand sinless before God.

 

It covers, it forgives, it removes guilt. It changes your standing from guilty to innocent, your judgment from condemnation to justification. The law puts depravity on display, stimulates sin and dooms the sinner.

 

But grace puts love and holiness on display, stimulating obedience, and has the power to change the heart.

 

Such is the one act of Christ on the cross compared to the one act of Adam. Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more!

 

Paul's final conclusion is found in

 

verse 21

 

How can what one man did affect so many? One man, the first Adam, brought the reign of death. But another Man, the second Adam, has brought the reign of life.

 

Okay, that was the introduction. Now, here’s the message in one final point. You may be saying, "I get it that when Adam did what he did, it affected us all. He was acting for us. He was our representative, and in a sense, we were there in Adam when he acted. But how does Christ’s resurrection affect us the way Adam’s sin affected us?

 

The answer is found in just a couple of verses later.

 

Romans 6:3

 

Wow. We know we were in Adam in his sin, but now we find out we are in Christ in His death. And please understand, the reference to baptism is not water baptism, but spiritual baptism. He's talking about being immersed into Christ Himself. That happens at salvation. That's when your real baptism takes place. The water baptism is just a picture of what's already happened at the moment of salvation.

So we were in Adam when he sinned, but salvation means we were also in Christ when He died and rose again.

 

verse 4

 

Since we were in Adam when he sinned and when he disobeyed, we all died, those who are saved were also in Christ when He rose and they all live.

 

verses 5-11

 

Now in the coming weeks, we're going to look at what it means to be freed from sin, but don't miss what he's saying here:

 

When Adam sinned, we were all there and when Christ died, we were all there. We died in Him and we rose in Him. What’s true of all of Adam’s people is also true of all of Christ’s people.

 

So why did Adam’s sin affect all who were in Adam? Because God designed it that way. He was our representative; he was acting for us; we were in him when he acted.

 

And in the same way, how could Christ’s death and resurrection affect us? Because God designed it that way. Christ is our representative and we were in Him when He acted.

 

We were in Adam naturally and we were in Christ spiritually. This is why the resurrection is so important. We celebrate the resurrection not merely as a historical fact, but as our resurrection. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.”

 

So again, the important question is, "Are you in Adam or are you in Christ?"

 

We move from one to the other only through a saving relationship made possible by the abounding, overflowing, victorious, powerful grace of God.

 

Let's pray.

 

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