Summary: Jesus coming has brought in a new world order. His obedience to God means we are no longer tied down by the death that came from Adam’s rebellion
If you can remember back 2 weeks ago to Rom 5:1-11 you’ll recall that we discovered there that the gospel brings us peace with God. That’s because Jesus has reconciled us to God through his death and resurrection. What’s more, we also discovered that a proper understanding of the gospel gives us peace within ourselves. That’s because in it we discover that God’s love for us is unconditional, since Christ died while we were his enemies, that our salvation depends on Christ’s righteousness alone, since we were still sinners when he died for us, and that because he did it while we were still his enemies, still sinners, we can have confidence now that nothing can separate us from that love. So we can have true peace: peace of mind based on the actual peace that exists between us and God. But now as we read on in Romans ch5 we discover there’s now a new world order in place. Here we find the reason that we can have this peace with God, and why it is that this is a message that needs to be passed on to all people, to everyone we know.
Di and I went to a play a few weeks ago, called "Life X3." It was set in an apartment with a couple and their young child. The husband was an academic working on a theory in astronomy. They had just finished dinner and put their daughter to bed. There was nothing to eat in the house because they were planning a big shop the next day in preparation for a dinner to which they’d invited the husband’s professor, who was supervising his research. Well, they’re in the middle of an argument over whether their daughter should be allowed something to eat after she’d cleaned her teeth, when the door bell rings. It’s the professor and his wife. They’ve got the date wrong. Well, the scene progresses from bad to worse until they end up in a ding-dong argument, with the Professor and his wife walking out in a huff. Then the stage falls into darkness and it all starts over again. The same scenario, but this time their reactions and words are slightly different. And the end result is different. Then again the scene starts over for a third time. Again the reactions of the various people is different and the final scene ends up with almost the opposite conclusion to the first time round. The point of the play, of course, was that small differences in the way we respond or the things we say can make enormous differences in the way situations work themselves out. If you’ve seen the movie "Sliding Doors" there’s a similar message there. Something as simple as missing the train can make a huge difference to the way your life works itself out.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, because that’s something of the idea that we find here in Rom 5:12-21. What we discover here is that a single decision made thousands of years ago has had far reaching consequences ever since. He says: "sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned." Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and as a result they died, spiritually, and were removed from the place of God’s blessing physically. Their death was, at the same time, the result of their sin, the sign of their sinfulness, and the determinant of their future and the future of their offspring. This diagram tries to represent what happened when they sinned:
Now this is a bit tricky. We need to think carefully about this. We know that we continue to live outside the realm of God’s blessing, in our fallen state. But sometimes we think that this is simply because of our own failings. We’re just repeating Adam and Eve’s mistake. Well, it’s true that we are doing that. He says: "death spread to all because all have sinned." Yet it isn’t as simple as that. If it was just that we’ve repeated Adam’s mistake, that is, that we’ve rebelled against God’s lawful commands, there’d still be a question mark over those people who lived between Adam and Moses. You see, the people who lived, say, in Noah’s day didn’t have a law to tell them how to live. So in a sense there was nothing for them to rebel against, was there? Yet they continued to die. So why did they die? They weren’t disobeying God. God hadn’t given them commands as such. In fact, we’re told, they died because sin ruled them, death exercised dominion over them even though they hadn’t disobeyed God in the same way as Adam and Eve did. So why was this so? Because the death that Adam and Eve suffered was passed on to all their descendants. So we find now that all of us are constitutionally unable to do the right thing. All of us continue in the line of Adam, unable to help ourselves.