Introduction: This lesson will complete chapter 5 and begin chapter 6. We begin with Paul’s discussion of how humanity divides into two communities.
Have you ever thought about the principle which is the basis by which the sacrifice of the one God-man, Jesus Christ mad possible salvation for countless people?
The principle involved is “federalism.” It is the same principle by which the consequences of the Adam’s sin is imputed to all his natural descendants.
In general, federalism is a form of representation in which one person legally acts on behalf of others. Scripture recognizes two federal heads – Adam and Jesus Christ.
Adam was not only the federal head of humanity, but he was also its common natural parent. In Eden, God required Adam’s obedience as the condition for continuing to possess his created righteousness and holiness.
The constraint of “obedience” meant Adam was on probation before God. Because Adam was their federal head, the human race was also on probation.
Very likely having all humanity accountable for Adam’s actions seems wrong to you. To complete the picture you need to know the answer to the question we asked earlier, “how can the one man Jesus save large numbers of people?”
The answer is federalism, the legal representation of the many by one. As Adam is federal head of humanity, Jesus Christ is the federal head of all those out of the human race whom the Father gives to Him.
Romans 5 clearly shows that Adam is federal head of the human race, as well as, that the judicial consequences of his actions areimputed to all whom he represented.
Adam’s federal headship brought spiritual and physical ruin to humanity.
James Montgomery Boice says, federalism is “a proof of God’s grace.”
Adam’s failure as our first federal head brought terrible results, but federalism with Jesus Christ as federal head is the only way God could undo the consequences of Adam’s sin.
God appointed Jesus Christ as federal head of those He chose from humanity to be spiritually born again as new creatures “in Christ.”
Adam and Jesus Christ are each God’s chosen legal federal representative of a group of people. Those they represent, God regards as being “in them.”
Everyone begins life “in Adam.” God can intervene and move them from being “in Adam” to being “in Christ.” Having been born “in Adam” they must be born again to become “in Christ.”
As a person became “in Adam” through natural birth, so a person becomes “in Christ” through“ “new spiritual birth.”
Adam’s status of “in the wrong before God” is imputed at birth to everyone.
Christ’s status of “in the right before God” is imputed to all who are “born again” into Christ.
Romans 5:12-14: “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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 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.
Adam disobeyed God bringing sin and death into the world. As federal head of all humanity, the consequences of his disobedience were imputed to all.
Adam’s natural descendants are born with a sin nature and an inclination to sin. All share their federal head’s guilt and consequences.
This is what Paul means when he says in verse 12 that “all sinned.”
Adam was given dominion over the original creation, but sinned and lost it.
All natural descendants of Adam are at birth “in Adam” and “in the wrong before God.” All are condemned and under a death sentence through federal imputation of the consequences of Adam’s sin as well as their own sins.
Adam is said to be a type of Christ. That is true in the sense that, as Adam is the federal head of all his natural descendants, Christ is the federal head of those who have been spiritually “born again.”
Those “in Adam” are born into Adam through natural birth. Those “in Christ” are born into Christ through supernatural regeneration or being spiritually born again.
In many ways, Christ and Adam are very different.
Christ came in obedience bringing grace and life. Adam brought sin and death through his disobedience.
The “in Adam” community is composed of all natural descendants of Adam.
The “in Christ” community is made up of all who are spiritually “born again.”
Adam’s natural descendants are “in Adam,” both genetically and federally.
God’s supernatural spiritual regeneration creates new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) who are spiritually and federally “in Christ” and receive the blessings of salvation earned on their behalf by Jesus Christ.
When a person is spiritually “born again,” they are born into “union with Christ” or in Paul’s shorthand, they are “in Christ.” They have a new federal head and are no longer “in Adam.”
What is the status before God of unregenerated people? Unregenerated people remain “in Adam” and are “in the wrong before God.”
Christ came into the world to enable those “in Adam” to be freed from condemnation and to become “in the right before God.”
In our natural state, we sin and are under God’s condemnation and wrath. No human can do anything in their own power to alter that condition.
But God, through the incarnation of His Son as Jesus of Nazareth, provided a Lawful federal substitute who satisfied all requirements of the Law vicariously for all who believe in Him.
Jesus did so by living a perfect life under the Law, dying bearing our sins, and receiving the punishment due sinners. As our substitute, He took our place and suffered God’s wrath for us.
He was resurrected, returned to the Father, and intercedes for believers.
Based on Jesus’ sacrifice, God justifies (declare righteous) all who believe.
Those justified receive the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide the process of sanctification which gradually eliminates their sin nature.
Ultimately everyone who is justified will be glorified, becoming like Christ in experiential righteousness and holiness.
Adam and Christ each affected countless numbers of people through one deed.
But there the analogy ends. How far can the giver of life be compared to the man who brought death into the world?
Adam is the head of fallen humanity during the reign of mortal death, but Christ is the head of the redeemed throughout the reign of eternal life.
Verse 12 focuses on sin and death. Completion of those thoughts is interrupted by verses 13-14 which explain what he meant in verse 12.
The thoughts of v. 12 will be completed in verses 18, 19, and 21.
Romans 5:15-17: “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. 16 And the one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 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.”
The grace consequences of Jesus Christ’s free gift and the consequences of Adam’s trespass are contrasted.
The results of Jesus’ obedience and Adam’s disobedience produced very different results (“the free gift is not like the trespass”) differing both in immediate effect and ultimate consequences.
Adam’s trespass was a self-assertive act of disobedience to God resulting in a fall from being holy and righteous to being unholy and unrighteous.
Christ’s gift was a God-approved act of self-sacrifice resulting in redemption for those who believe and totally unlike Adam’s act of self-assertion.
The enormous disparity between the actions is expressed in 15b, “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.”
God’s judgment of Adam’s one action immediately brought condemnation, but God’s approval of Christ’s action brought justification.
Though those being saved have committed many trespasses not merely one like Adam, God’s grace bestows on them justification (legal righteousness).
By the usual rules, increased trespass would bring more condemnation. But grace does not follow the usual rules. In this instance grace brings redemption to all who believe in spite of their huge accumulation of trespasses.
The ultimate consequence of Adam’s action is sin and death.
The ultimate consequence of Jesus Christ’s action is righteousness and life.
Romans 5:18-21: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
As the consequence of Adam’s trespass and Adam’s federal headship, all his future natural progeny were condemned.
As the consequence of Jesus Christ’s self-sacrificing obedience and His federal headship, everyone who believes receives justification and life.
As Adam’s disobedience was ground for everyone to be declared sinners, so Jesus Christ’s obedience is ground for all believers to be declared righteous.
If redemption and eternal life are through Jesus Christ’s obedience alone, what is the purpose of the Law?
Paul says the Law’s function is to help clarify what is sin and what is not.
Attempting to perfectly obey the Law to obtain righteousness reveals the extent and seriousness of sin and the human difficulty of avoiding it.
Attempting to perfectly obey the Law will convince anyone that they sin. They become aware of specific sins.
Attempting obedience makes us increasingly aware of the sins we commit resulting in increased awareness of God’s redeeming grace.
The overwhelming difficulty of perfect obedience to the Law prepares the way for Christ and His gift of justification by faith, apart from the Law.
God purposes that “as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
As John Stott says in his commentary, “Nothing could sum up better the blessings of being in Christ than the expression ‘the reign of grace.’ For grace forgives sins through the cross, and bestows on the sinner both righteousness and eternal life. Grace satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry with good things. Grace sanctifies sinners, shaping them into the image of Christ. Grace perseveres even with the recalcitrant, determining them complete what it has begun. And one day grace will destroy death and consummate the kingdom. So when we are convinced that ‘grace reigns’, we will remember that God’ throne is a ‘throne of grace’ and will come to it boldly to receive mercy and to find grace for every need (Hebrews 4:16). And all this is through Jesus Christ our Lord, that is, through His death and resurrection.”
Romans 6:1-14: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Sin’s mastery over the lives of those who believe was broken by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s emphasis on God’s gift of justification by faith alone led some to conclude he was saying that more sin was OK because grace would always grow to cover the increase in sin and the sinner would still be OK.
That accusation was brought up earlier in chapter 3 (Romans 3:8 “And why not do evil that good may come?”). At that point Paul simply dismissed the charge without refuting it which he now does.
Paul begins his refutation of the attack on “justification by grace through faith” by asking “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”
His answer is “By no means!” In the next few verses he explains why.
His critics’ claimed the gospel of free grace encouraged lawlessness by promising sinners that continued and increasing sin would not affect their access to heaven.
The theological word for this view is antinomianism which simply means moral law can be ignored without penalty.
Paul answers this charge by pointing out God’s grace not only forgives sins but also delivers from sinning. Grace not only justifies; it also sanctifies.
In the first half of chapter 6, Paul stresses that through grace we are united to Christ (Romans 6:1-14) and saved from slavery to sin.
In the second half, he stresses that through grace we are initiated into a new slavery to righteousness (Romans 6:15-23).
A believer’s “pre-conversion life of sin” in effect dies with Christ on the cross. Because of the sin nature, though they strive to not sin, believers will sometimes sin after conversion. They should be conscious of the wrongness of their sin and seek God’s forgiveness by confessing their sin to Him.
The crucifixion of the “old self” frees a person from slavery to sin and enables believers to live for God because Jesus’ resurrection gained mastery over sin.
In Jesus’ death we die with Him as we die to our sin that caused Him to need to die for us.
All of chapter 6 reacts to the question of whether God’s grace undermines ethical responsibility in a way that ends up promoting reckless sinning.
It is emphatically insisted that it is absurd to think a truly justified person will continue in regular and routine sin.
Antinomian inclinations are traced to ignorance particularly with regard to Christian beginnings.
A radical discontinuity occurs between pre-conversion, pre-baptism life and new, post conversion, post-baptism life. For the justified to continue to sin, as they did pre-conversion, is incongruous with salvation.
Salvation is by grace through faith alone.
Believers’ confirm their faith through words of acceptance of God’s gracious offer, but their faith itself is an internal, invisible gift of God.
Baptism is a public statement of faith in God and His gospel.
Baptism symbolizes union with Christ which means a believer benefits from all Jesus’ earthly accomplishments, His life, death burial, and resurrection.
As Jesus hung on the cross, our sins were placed on Him and He suffered death and the wrath of God in our place as He paid the penalty for our sins.
John Stott uses the meaning of “died to sin” as the key to understanding this section. The phrase appears in verses 2, 10, and 11.
Verses 2 and 11 concern allbelievers while 10 is about Christ. “Died to sin” occurs 3 times in the same context with the same meaning each time. What does it mean?
Obviously the sinless Christ was always unresponsive to sin. So it can’t mean Christ stopped being responsive to sin.
In Scripture death is identified as the legal penalty for sin.
Here, the phrase must mean that on the cross Jesus paid the death penalty due the believers’ sins which were placed on Him.
He paid that penalty for all who believe. Because Christ paid the full penalty for believers’ sins, in Christ their “old fallen nature” died to the penalty due sin once and for all.
The overall consequence is that believers are no longer under God’s condemnation and wrath for sin.
Believers are freed and able to not sin but to grow in practical righteousness to match the gift of legal righteousness.
In sanctification, the indwelling Holy Spirit works to transform each believer into a likeness of Christ!
By faith, through His death, believers enter into Christ and His matchless benefits! They are given a new nature designed to live in God.
A believers’ old nature is legally dead to sin. Their new nature is alive to God in Christ. Yet the old nature, though legally dead and sure to disappear ultimately, continues to live. Paul warns believers in statements in 12-14.
The sanctifying Holy Spirit gradually eliminates the old nature. When we stand before Christ in heaven, the old nature will be gone and we will have only a glorified new nature.
An Aside on Satan: What role does Satan play in human sin?
Satan and his minions are tempters who understand human nature. They know how to tempt people in ways that bypass human moral constraints.
Satan is a fallen angel of great, but limited, power. For reasons we do not understand, God permits him to tempt people attempting to draw them away from any interest in Christ.
Other fallen angels joined Satan and participate in his work of opposing God.
Unlike God, Satan is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent.
Yet his power is great and he is spoken of as the current ruler of this world and one who hold the power of death.
Traditional interpretation of passages about Satan is that he is the ruler of this “world system.”
What is meant by “world system”? Does it include all of nature or only the world of unbelieving people and spiritual beings?
The traditional view is the “world system” is confined to people and spiritual beings who oppose God.
Satan is and has always been under God’s control (e.g., Job 1& 2).
Yet, his power is enormous within the boundaries God sets on him.
When a person becomes a believer, they cease to be a part of the “world system” ruled by Satan. Believers are members of God’s own family and ruled by our loving, gracious, and merciful God.
Though not a part of the world system ruled by Satan, believers remain subject to Satan’s attempts to intervene.
Believers are to resist all attempts to draw them into Satan’s system; avoid him. He is a murderer and a liar. Like a lion, he searches for people to devour.
Satan received God’s permission to attack Job’s family, possessions, and ultimately Job’s person. There is no reason to believe we are immune.
All creation is God’s work, not Satan’s. Satan is under God’s control.
Satan’s enormous power can have dreadful effects on believers both through direct action by Satan and/or indirect action as Satan influences people.
While it was God’s plan that Jesus die for us, Satan’s influence was instrumental in His death.
Out of Satan’s evil intent against Jesus, God brought salvation for the many.
Jesus defeated Satan. The Father gave “all things” into Jesus’ hands.
Ultimately, the “world system” will cease to respond to Satan’s influence.
My understanding is that will not happen until Jesus comes again.