Pastor David B. Curtis


Salvation's Security - Part 3

Romans 5:18-21

Delivered 03/19/2000

Everybody in this room is seen by God as either in Adam or Christ. If God sees you in Adam, then you stand before him condemned. If God sees you in Christ, then you stand before Him as righteousness. All of us were born in Adam. The only way a person moves out of Adam's headship and comes under Christ's headship is by being born again. We were born in Adam; we must be born again to be in Christ.

Romans 5:12-21 is a comparison of two men - Adam & Christ. The comparison is very simple; there are two men, who each performed a single act that brought forth a single result, and the result is experienced by every member in their respective races. The emphasis in this section is on how one man's act affects all he represents.

The portrayal of Christ as the last Adam, the counterpart of the first Adam, is given to us in:

1 Corinthians 15:45 (NKJV) And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

So, we have two men, Adam and Christ, and all of humanity is represented by one or the other. The acts of the representatives are imputed to all whom they represent.

In Romans 5:12-21, we see that sin is imputed to us through Adam, and that righteousness is imputed to us through Jesus Christ. The word "impute" means: "to put to somebody's account, to credit someone."

Paul says in writing to Philemon about Onesimus:

Philemon 1:17-19 (NKJV) If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay; not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.

Paul tells Philemon that if Onesimus owes him anything, to put it on his account. This is exactly what Jesus Christ did for believers. God took what we owed him, an unpayable debt, and put it on Christ's account, and Christ paid it in full. This is imputing, and if we are to understand our salvation and its security, we must understand it.

Three Great Acts of Imputation in the Bible:

1. Adam's sin is imputed to us, this is condemnation.

2. The sin's of the elect are imputed to Jesus Christ, this is propitiation.

3. Jesus Christ's righteousness is imputed to believers, this is justification.

Do you have to be perfect to go to Heaven? Yes! Any violation of God's law is sin, and sin, all sin, any sin, separates us from God. This is why Jesus Christ's righteousness is imputed to us.

The main thought of Romans 5:12-21 is found in verses, 12, 18 and 19. Verse 18 picks up the comparison "as" that was started in verse 12 and completes it, "even so." Just "as" one act of Adam affected every member of the human race "even so" the one act of Jesus Christ affects every member of the elect race.

Romans 5:18 (NKJV) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

First we are reminded of what happened to us in Adam. One sin of Adam resulted in all men being condemned. Paul is saying that because of that one sin of Adam the whole of mankind are "treated" as sinners. That is what he said in verse 12. Then verse 19 goes further than 18, and it says that not only were all "treated" as sinners, but all were "made" or "regarded" as sinners.

Romans 5:19 (NKJV) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.

The Greek word for "made" is kathistemi, it means: "to set down in the rank of, or to place in the category of, to appoint to a particular class." This word is used in:

Luke 12:14 (NKJV) But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?"

Jesus is asking, "Who appointed me, who constituted me judge?" The word "made" is not causative, but declarative. Those in Adam were declared sinners. It is imperative that we understand this: "By one man's disobedience many were regarded as sinners." He doesn't say, "made sinful", but "made sinners."

The whole human race has been constituted legally as sinners. That is our judicial standing before God. And it is based entirely and solely on Adam's one act of disobedience.

Because of Adam's one sin, we are all made sinners, this is God's judicial act. He decreed that the whole of humanity should be represented by the first man and should suffer the consequences of that man's actions. We all sinned in Adam and with Adam because he was our Federal head or representative, and, therefore, God pronounced all to be sinners.

That is one side, but thank God there is another side to the parallel - "even so". By the righteous act of one man, the Lord Jesus Christ, came justification that leads to life.

Romans 5:18 (NKJV) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

All men? The text says that the "free gift came to all men." We looked at this last week, the "all" must be limited to their representative heads. "The free gift came to all men who Christ represents."

Romans 5:19 (NKJV) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.

"So also" - the great truth that we see here is that all we are and have comes out of the obedience of the last Adam - the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation is based entirely on Him, and from Him, and in Him. As my being a sinner came entirely from Adam, all my righteousness comes entirely from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your assurance of salvation comes not from your feelings but from your understanding. Look at yourself in Adam; though you had done nothing, you were declared a sinner. Look at yourself in Christ, and you see that though you have done nothing, you are declared to be righteous. That is the parallel. We must get rid of all thoughts of our actions as far as gaining or keeping salvation. We are justified, declared righteous because of the obedience of Jesus, and Jesus alone! Jesus Christ lived a sinless life in total obedience to the law of God and then died a substitutionary death on our behalf.

1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.

The end of Romans 5:19 says, "so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." The people who belong to Christ are "made" righteous. The word "made" is kathistemi, it means: "to set down in the rank of, or to place in the category of, to appoint to a particular class." The word has the same meaning and the same force on both sides of the parallel. We are declared righteous on the grounds of Christ's obedience alone.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus Christ was regarded and treated as a sinner that we might be regarded and treated as righteous in the sight of God. As a believer, I am righteous, and I will always be righteous because I am in Christ, and Christ never changes, so neither will I.

Are you certain of your salvation? Your salvation and mine depends only, and entirely, and exclusively upon the obedience of Christ. Now, someone is probably thinking: It sounds like you are giving people a license to sin. That was people's response to Paul's preaching.

Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

When you present the gospel, if it doesn't sound like you are preaching antinomianism, you are not presenting the true gospel. The gospel is God's free gift to guilty sinners.

If you have put your trust in Jesus Christ, God no longer looks at you as a sinner, you are righteous, just as righteous as Jesus Christ. Do you see yourself as "in Christ"?

I am righteous, in spite of all I know to be true of myself, because I am in Christ. I am no longer a sinner in God's eyes, I have been constituted a righteous person.

When you look at yourself, you must see your sin. But when you look away from yourself unto Jesus Christ, you see your new identity, your perfect righteousness, your glorious position with God in the heavenly places. Your life in the world, your peace, your joy, your contentment is dependent upon where you look.

Because we have been made righteous, we should desire to live up to what we are. Living a life in obedience to the Word of God should be done out of gratitude for all God has done for us.

Romans 5:20 (NKJV) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

"Moreover" - he still has something to say, it is not essential to the argument, but he knew it would be helpful, especially to the Christian Jews.

If Adam and Christ are the two sources of sin and righteousness, where does the Mosaic law come in? Between Adam and Christ stood Moses, revered by the Jews and often seen as the most significant figure among the sons of men because of the giving of the law to Israel. According to what Paul has told us, the law does not justify, and the law does not even condemn us - we are all condemned by the one sin of Adam. What, then, is the purpose of the law?

Verse 20 says, "Moreover the law entered." The word "entered" here is from the Greek word, pareiserchomai, which means: "to enter alongside." The law entered in by the side of sin that already entered. The word is used in secular Greek of an actor that played a subordinate role. Paul tells us by the use of this word that the law in and of itself is not something that is of fundamental importance to us. The law was never intended as a way of salvation.

Romans 3:20 (NKJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

God didn't give the law to Israel in order to give them the opportunity to save themselves by obeying it, as some have taught. Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote, "There are two widely different, standardized, divine provisions, whereby man, who is utterly fallen may come into the favor of God" (Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 93, 1936, p.410). That is wrong! The only way anyone can come into favor with God is by faith.

Why was the law given, what was its purpose?

Romans 5:20 (NKJV) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,

When God gave the Ten Commandments, he wasn't trying to tell us how to go to heaven. No one gets to heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments. You can't do it because no one ever truly "keeps" the commandments perfectly. And God won't accept anything less than perfection. He doesn't grade on a curve. It's all or nothing with him.

No, God gave the Ten Commandments so that we might realize the depth of our own personal sinfulness. Without the law, we would go merrily on our way, patting ourselves on the back, congratulating ourselves on how good and clever we are. But let a person just once take a good look at the Ten Commandments, let him consider the words and the depth of their meaning, let him carefully scrutinize his own life, let him be ruthless in his self-examination. When a man does that truly and honestly, the only result can be, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." The more we understand of God's law, the greater our sense of our own sinfulness.

Romans 5:20 says, "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" This translation is a bit misleading because it uses the word "abounded" in both sides of the statement. But they aren't the same words in the Greek. They are actually completely different. When he says, "Where sin abounded," he uses a word that speaks of addition. But when he says "Grace abounded," he uses a word that means multiplication. The first "abounded" is pleonazo, which means: "to increase." The second use of "abound" is huperperisseuo, which means: "to super abound, to abound beyond measure." Where sin increased, grace super abounded.

Principle: What grace has done is not merely to counteract exactly what sin has done. If the effect of grace had merely been to wipe out and to cancel all that had happened on the other side, we would have had reason to praise God through all eternity. But grace super abounds. It not only cancels our debt, it gives us the righteousness of God.

The story of JOHN NEWTON is one of super abounding grace. His mother died when he was seven years old, but she had taught him many verses of Scripture. He was reared in the home of a relative, and became an apprentice seaman. Wild and dissolute, he deserted from the British Navy and ran away to Africa in order, as he put it in his memoirs, "that I might sin my fill." He had the reputation of being able to curse for two hours without repeating himself. In Africa he fell in with a Portuguese slave-trader, and while this man was absent from his home, John Newton was treated like a dog by the chief black woman of the trader's harem. For months he was forced to grovel in the dirt and pick up his food with his mouth from the ground, being lashed by a slave if he touched it with his hands. Thin and emaciated, he decided to attempt an escape. He reached a spot on the coast where, with a signal fire, he attracted the attention of a passing ship. The master, thinking that he was a native wishing to sell ivory, sent a small boat which took him to the ship. Since he was a skilled navigator, he became first mate; but while the captain was ashore one day, John broke out the ship's rum and got the whole crew drunk. Upon his return, the captain struck him so violently that he fell overboard and would have drowned in his drunken condition, had not a sailor speared him in the thigh with a boat hook, making a wound so great that ever afterwards John Newton could put his first into the scar.

Weeks later, while the ship was returning to Britain, a great storm arose. She passed north of Ireland and, off the coast of Scotland, almost sank. Newton, who had been manning the pumps for days, cried out to God, and was wonderfully saved.

John Newton became a pillar of the Church of England, chaplain to Parliament, and even preached before the King. This old African blasphemer wrote the song, "Amazing Grace".

No wonder John Newton was a great preacher of grace. He had learned that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; grace overflowed; grace was infinite. And he was an astounding illustration of the fact that grace is not withheld because of sin.

Romans 5:21 (NKJV) so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin involves us in a situation where we are not dominant but subordinate. We cannot break free from sin, so it reigns. We cannot escape death, so it reigns. Spiritual death cannot be conquered by man.

"Even so" - grace reigns through righteousness. Grace is God's unmerited favor shown to the undeserving. Remission of a penalty is not grace. Grace did not deliver the lawful captives without paying the ransom. It did not trample on justice. It reigns by providing a Savior to suffer in the place of the guilty.

Romans 3:24-26 (NKJV) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Our salvation is a righteous salvation. When we get to heaven, we'll have a right to be there.

Grace leads to eternal life. Our salvation is forever! Eternal life lasts forever.

With Adam is bound up the entrance of sin into the world and the reign of sin, condemnation, and death. With Christ is bound up the entrance of righteousness and the reign of grace, righteousness, justification, and life.

These two men are the pivots of redemptive revelation; the first as making redemption necessary; the second as accomplishing and securing redemption.

Our salvation is secure. We are much better off now than we would have been had Adam never sinned. We possess the very righteousness of God.

In conclusion, then, it is Christ's obedience which saves your soul for eternity. Not yours, but His. It was Adam's disobedience that damns you, and Christ's obedience which saves you. As Adam and you owe a perfect life to merit heaven, so Christ lived that perfect life on earth for you, and so merited heaven. Now the scriptures are clear -Christ did this only for His elect, but are you elect? Ask yourself this: "Do I truly trust Christ alone for my salvation?" If you can say, "Yes" to that, then I can assure you of this: though by the disobedience of Adam you were made a sinner, by the obedience of Christ you have been made eternally righteous.

Birth is both the cause and the cure for man's sin. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

How was it that the human race fell into sin? It was on account of Adam. But how did each individual fall under the curse? It was by being born. Birth made one a son of Adam and thus a sinner. The solution to the guilt of sin encountered at birth, was another birth, a second birth. In order to be saved, men must exchange their identity with Adam (by which they are condemned) to an identity with Christ (by which they are justified). As birth was the source of a man's sin, so another birth is the solution.

This is what the gospel is all about. Jesus Christ came to the earth to provide men a cure for the curse which Adam's sin brought upon all mankind. The gospel calls us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is ceasing to trust in what we are, and clinging to who Jesus Christ is. It is finding our identity in Christ, rather than in Adam. It is turning from condemnation to justification, from death to life, and from Adam to Jesus Christ.

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