Summary: The cure for those who are in Jesus by faith is much more powerful than the curse for those who are in Adam by nature
It seems that in our world, doctrine has gotten a bad rap. Perhaps you’ve seen or heard people use a slogan like “Love unites, doctrine divides” or one of its relatives like “Service unites, doctrine divides” or “Justice divides, doctrine divides”. While those kinds of sayings might be appealing to many people, they are really rather silly if you think about it what, in essence, are each of those slogans? They each reflect a belief or a way of thinking so essentially they are doctrine – right?
Unfortunately, a lot of people have come to believe that Biblical doctrine is boring or that it really isn’t relevant to our lives. I know because I was once one of those people. And in some cases, I and some of my fellow pastors are at least partly to blame because we probably haven’t done a real good job of explaining why doctrine matters and showing how it is relevant to our lives.
But I would submit to you that within the body of Christ doctrine does matter because what we believe will determine how we live. That is not just true of Biblical doctrine either. Think about how doctrine matters in these other areas of our lives:
• Would you all agree that the doctrine of gravity matters? Just ask Jonathan Ponzo about that. And because all of us believe in that doctrine, we don’t go around jumping off tall buildings or go skydiving without a parachute because we know what the results will be.
• Would you agree that the doctrine of the second law of thermodynamics matters? Many of you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about here. But even if you don’t know what that law is, if you like a hot cup of coffee that doctrine matters. Since that particular doctrine means that the temperature of the coffee and the temperature of the air around it will eventually come to a point of equilibrium, it requires that if I like hot coffee I will either have to drink it in a very warm room or drink it quickly before it approaches room temperature.
• Would you agree that the doctrine of the laws of aerodynamics matters? Once again, some of you are probably thinking that you don’t even what that doctrine is. But guess what, if you’ve ever flown on an airplane you rely on that doctrine even if you don’t understand it because that is what keeps your plane in the air.
When it comes to God and the Bible, there is no doubt that doctrine matters. In its simplest terms, doctrine is merely what we believe about God. And that doctrine, that belief, will impact the way we operate in every area of our lives.
This morning, I’m going to engage in some rather deep doctrinal teaching, perhaps some of the most important doctrinal teaching in the entire Bible. I’m going to tackle a passage that many pastors, commentators and theologians have called the most difficult passage in the Bible. So it is going take us the next two weeks to study this passage and even then we aren’t going to be able to cover everything that we could learn from it.
With that in mind, turn to Romans 5 and follow along as I read verses 12-21. But before I start reading, let me briefly explain the structure of this passage. Paul begins his train of through in verse 12 and then he does as he often does and takes a moment to explain something in that verse before he picks up with his main train of through again in verse 18. If you’re using the ESV translation you can kind of see that since there is a dash between verses 12 and 13, but the problem is that the other dash that should be between verses 17 and 18 to properly set apart Paul’s parenthetical comments is missing for some reason.
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—
[There is the dash I mentioned. Also notice the word “so” that Paul will use again in verse 18 to show he has now picked up his main teaching again. Verses 13 – 17 that we’ll read now are Paul’s explanation of what he just wrote in verse 12 about death spreading to all men.]
for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.