Summary: This sermon communicates the truth that Christ has completely overturned the effects of Adam’s sin by comparing and contrasting Adam’s death-dealing sin and Jesus Life-giving gift.
The context of the message today has to do with your justification by faith in which you’ve benefited by receiving peace with God, access to God’s grace, rejoicing in God’s glory which means God will reveal Himself in you for who He really is thereby enabling you to become all that He intended you to be. The results of your being made just as if you never sinned or ever will again include rejoicing in your suffering which produces in you perseverance, character and hope as well as God’s love being poured out and demonstrated. All this is summarized in that through justification you receive reconciliation which means God has made you friends with Himself and He not only loves you, He likes you because He’s made you likeable.
So, since Christians have been fully delivered from God’s wrath, Christ has completely overturned the effects of Adams sin. What we have now in verses 12-21 is an extended comparison or contrast between Adam, the first man and the results of his Death-Dealing Sin and Christ the second man and His Life-Giving Gift of Grace. More simply put, this is a penetrating comparison between the effects of Adam’s disobedience and the effects of Christ’s obedience. In fact, Williams translates that first phrase in verse 12, “So here is the comparison;” a comparison of Adam and Christ. Adam introduced sin and death into the world. Christ brought righteousness and Life. In fact, verses 18-19 summarize the whole comparison. These two men also sum up the message of Romans thus far as well. Adam stands for man’s condemnation covered in 1:18-3:20 and Christ stands for the believer’s justification covered in 3:21-5:11.
Adam and Christ illustrate the central theme of this theological portion of Paul’s letter. In fact, theology is what the first eleven chapters are about and chapters 5-8 are the heart of Paul’s theology. Theology is what we think about God. And it’s so very important what we think about God because what you believe determines how you behave. You can’t behave right because you don’t believe right. So beginning with this comparison of Adam and Christ you need to begin nailing down some important beliefs because that’s how you will begin to reign in life through Christ Jesus. So, let’s begin our comparison by thinking about:
I. Adam’s Death-Dealing Sin verses 12-14
The first man on the face of the earth disobeyed God and led the entire human race in the wrong direction. Verse 12 reads “So then, just as sin entered the world through one man . . .” Just look at the devastating destruction done by the devilish deed of the initial individual, the first man – Adam! Sin entered the world by one man. It further describes Adam’s Death-Dealing Sin in verse 14 as “death reigned,” v.15 as “the many died,” v.16 as ”Judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation,” v.18 as “condemnation for all men,” and v.19 as “the many were made sinners.”
Now, Adam’s Death-Dealing Sin is named “hamartia.” This Greek word is a noun; a person, place or thing. The form of this word used forty times in chapters 5-8 doesn’t speak of specific acts of sin. It’s not a verb, but a noun. Rather, it’s personified and as such is a principle of sin, that is a ruling power to which all humankind is subject and which leads to spiritual and physical death. So when Paul says in v.12, “because all sinned” what does that mean?
In Paul’s thinking there was the belief of corporate person-ality or solidarity which came from the OT. One example is Joshua 7 where Achan sinned by taking some of the devoted things after the battle of Jericho and the Israelites were defeated at Ai as a result of sin in the camp. What you need to believe and understand is that you were there when Adam sinned so that his sin is your sin. In God’s holy and judicial eyes when Adam sinned, you sinned; when Adam died, you died; when Adam was condemned, you were condemned and God imputed to you his guilt. This is sometimes called the “seminal” view. You were in Adam in the same way as Levi was in Abraham when he paid tithes to Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:9-10 which is the NT example of this is. This is an important point of belief because when we come to our union with Christ the same holds true. So let’s think about:
II. Christ’s Life-Giving Gift verses 15-19
The point of these verses is to show how much more the effect of God’s grace the gift of righteousness surpasses the result of Adam’s Death-Dealing Sin. Paul says, “But the gift is not like the trespass.” The second man Christ obeyed God, did the will of God and died a sacrificial death which provides justification for all who will turn to Him in faith. No matter how devastating the sin of the first man Adam, the redemptive work of the second man Christ reverses the consequences of sin and restores you to favor with God. No matter how despicable your sin or destructive your lifestyle, the power of God’s grace can reverse the damage done. To show that, Paul uses several patterns of comparison. In verses 15 and 17 he uses “If A, how much more, B.” In v.16 he uses a negative form, “A is not like B.” In verses 18, 19 and 21 he uses the pattern, “Just as A, so also B.”