Pastor David B. Curtis


In Adam or In Christ, Pt. 2

Romans 5:15-17

Delivered 06/19/2011

We are continuing our study "In Adam or In Christ"; this could be one of the most important studies in helping to anchor your soul to the truth of your security in Christ.

Can you imagine the emotional state of a child who does not know from day to day whether or not he is a member of the family? Today, since he was a good boy, he is considered a member. But tomorrow, if he misbehaves, he may no longer be a member. Today he is loved by his father. Tomorrow he may not be. This child would be a neurotic mess! You are a part of your family, regardless of your behavior; so it is in the family of God, too. If you belong to Christ, you are part of the family and can enjoy the emotional security our Heavenly Father wants us to experience.

When they built the first section of the Golden Gate Bridge, there was no safety net to protect the workers. Twenty-three workers fell to their deaths in the perilous waters far below the bridge. The city of San Francisco decided to spend an enormous sum to put a safety net under the next section, but once the safety net was in place, only a handful of workers ever needed it. The work went faster, and the workers could concentrate on their jobs without worrying about the danger of death.

To be a productive Christian, you need to know that your future is secure; that's why understanding our eternal security is so important. It allows our fears to be dealt with, gives us confidence for the task at hand, and offers the emotional stability that we need. If you understand what the Bible has to say about God's security, you would see that the God who saved you, keeps you.

The design of Romans 5:12-21 is to show us the parallel and contrast between Adam and Christ. Paul is demonstrating that we have the same relationship now to the Lord Jesus Christ as we had before our salvation with Adam.

Outline: verse 12 begins the comparison between Adam and Christ with "just as" but he does not complete the comparison with "even so" until verse 18. Verses 13-14 are a sort of parenthetical remark attached to the end of verse 12. Verses 15-17 form another parenthesis attached to the end of verse 14. The main thought, therefore, is found in verses 12 and 18.

Last week we looked at verses 12-14. We saw that Paul traced man's fall to the one sin of Adam, and from Adam's one sin we saw three things resulted:

(1) Sin entered the world.

Many teach that Adam's nature became corrupt, and he passed this fallen nature on to all men. They call this corrupt nature "Original Sin." So, they teach that all men are born with a sinful nature.

I don't think that this is the case, I don't believe that man has a corrupted nature or a sin nature. Original sin is about being in a condition of enmity towards God because of the sin of our father, Adam. All men are born into the sinful condition or status of Adam. We are born in covenant union with Adam.

Because of an unfortunate misinterpretation in some translations of the Bible of the Greek word "sarx," which directly translated means: "flesh," the doctrine of the sinful nature or indwelling sin has been propagated and preached with amazing conviction for centuries:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:8 NIV

Here the NIV translates sarx as "sinful nature," this is a bad translation. This idea of a sin nature reflects more of a Greek dualism than a Hebraic understanding of Scripture. The Greeks held to a dualistic existence; spirit is pure and matter is evil. Influenced by Greek ideas most Western Christians begin to think that flesh/body is evil. This is not a Jewish idea. The Hebraic view of man has no place for the dualism of the Greeks who see man as being tripartite: body, soul, and spirit. The First Testament understanding of man is holistic, that is, his being is indivisible.

I was asked this past week if Ephesians 2:3 teaches that man has a sinful nature:

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:3 NASB

The term "nature" here refers to the order to which the Ephesians belonged prior to salvation. It refers to the kingdom of darkness into which he was born in Adam. Before their conversion, the Ephesian believers had been, like the Jews in Egypt, living under a system that was in rebellion against God and was part of the order that was under God's wrath. Here, "nature" refers not to the ontological condition of man, but to his relational condition. As members of the community that is in Adam, the Ephesians were under God's wrath.

Instead of thinking of man as having a sinful nature, we must see him as in a fallen condition. He is born in Adam, born spiritually dead, under the wrath of God. The Scriptures teach that when it comes to sinfulness, humanity is totally depraved because Adam's sin has alienated all his offspring from God, leaving them enemies of their maker.

As I said last week, I think sin is part of being human. I don't know any human beings who don't sin. This includes Adam and Eve who sinned in a state of innocence and in a perfect environment. Because we are physical, human, we are subject to distorted, intemperate desires. We thirst for pleasure (no matter how much law-breaking that involves), and we run away from pain (no matter how much laziness or irresponsibility that entails). We are attracted to that which gives us pleasure, emotional as well as physical.

The question that was asked last week was, "What about Jesus Christ, He was human?" Yes, Jesus was human, 100% human, but He was also 100% God. At the incarnation, God the Son, the Second person of the one triune God, was forever joined to true humanity. This joining together has been designated as the hypostatic union. Hypostatic is from the Greek word hupostasis, which means: "substance or essence." In theological language, it means person. So the doctrine of the hypostatic union is the doctrine of the personal union of the two natures, the divine and the human, of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is where we get the theological term "theanthropic," which comes from theos, which means: "God and anthropos," which means: "man." Jesus Christ is the God-Man. He is One person with two natures. His human nature is sinless because it is welded to a divine nature.

It is taught that Jesus was born of a virgin so the corruption of humanity wouldn't be passed down from his father. I think that the reason Christ was born of a virgin may be to be the last Adam. Like the first Adam, His creation was a work of God and not a natural birth.

Our text in Romans 5:12 says that "sin entered the world." Let's talk about sin for a moment. What is sin? How would you answer that question? Most Western Christians understand sin as breaking a law. Sin is biblically defined as breaking a command, but it is much more than just that. Do you remember last week we looked at:

But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me. Hosea 6:7 NASB

Hosea lays the charge at Israel's door that she is being unfaithful to Yahweh, who is her husband. "This," says Hosea, "is what Adam did. Adam was unfaithful to Yahweh, He broke the covenant." He went after another god, himself. What I want us to see here is that sin is relational, it is a betrayal. Sin is rejecting Yahweh and going after other gods. Breaking God's law is the symptom of the problem.

This relational definition of sin is found throughout the First Testament. We see this in the Shema, which would have been the first Scripture a Hebrew memorized:

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB

All your love is to be toward Yahweh. You are to be faithful to Him. Later on in chapter 6 Moses writes:

"You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 6:14-15 NASB

Yahweh is a jealous God, He demands all of our devotion. We see sin as relational in:

"But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked-- You are grown fat, thick, and sleek-- Then he forsook God who made him, And scorned the Rock of his salvation. "They made Him jealous with strange gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. "They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread. "You neglected the Rock who begot you, And forgot the God who gave you birth. Deuteronomy 32:15-18 NASB

Jeshurun is a poetical name for Israel, literally meaning "upright one." So sin is not just a legalistic breaking of a command, it is betrayal of a relationship. Over and over Israel is accused of adultery. We must understand that sin is much more than breaking any of the laws, it is about the betrayal of Yahweh's covenant love.

God entered into a covenant relationship with Israel at Sinai. The Law was given to protect Israel's relationship with God. Israel violated the relationship and played the harlot with many lovers.

If a man betrays his wife and commits adultery, he is not just breaking a command, he is destroying a relationship. When we begin to think of sin as a betrayal of God's covenant love we will be less likely to do it. Sin is relational!

(2) Death came by sin.

Through Adam's personal sin, original sin came to all mankind, and all humanity was affected. We are all born in a state of spiritual death. If a man dies physically while in a state of spiritual death, he will spend eternity under the wrath of God.

(3) Death spread to all men.

Every human being born is born separated from God, dead in sin. All men are born dead in sin because Adam's personal sin is "imputed," that is, put to the account of every individual in Adam's race. So you were born spiritually dead because you were personally and individually charged with Adam's sin. That is imputation! When Adam sinned, he sinned as our federal, or representative, head. Adam's sin applies to and affects every individual that he was representing. His act was a representative act; you and I as being represented by our federal head, participated in Adam's act.

I can give you a rather weak illustration of representation from our own legal system. We know that if I hire a man to kill someone, and that hired killer carries out the contract, I can justly be tried for first-degree murder in spite of the fact that I did not actually kill anybody. I am judged to be guilty for a crime someone else committed because the other person acted in my place. Now, I know that we didn't hire Adam to sin for us. The illustration simply illustrates that there are some cases in which it is just to punish one person for the crime of another.

We must learn to read the Bible from a corporate, not individualist, perspective. The biblical perspective is that every person is a member of a community, and that membership determines his identity.

This section in Romans 5 is a comparison of two men, Adam and 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. Adam and Christ are analogous in that the status of all human beings depends on the work of Adam or Christ.

When God looks at the 7 billion people who live on planet earth--and the other billions who lived here in the past--he sees two people who stand out from all the rest of humanity. They are representative men. The whole history of the human race revolves around those two men--what they did, and what flowed from what they did.

Augustine said, "God has dealt with two people. He has dealt with Adam, and he has dealt with Christ. And the rest of us fall into the relationship that he has set forth in the Word."

Each federal head, Adam and Christ, committed an act which has a result that is experienced by every individual in their respective race. Every individual in their respective race participated in that act which their representative head performed. This is fundamental to understanding chapter 6.

Verses 15-17 amplify the end of verse 14. Before Paul gives us the other side of the parallel, he needs us to understand that they are not merely parallel:

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:14 NASB

In verses 13-14 Paul is explaining the Law and the death. Between Adam and Moses there was sin even though the Law wasn't pointing it out. That's what the Law does, it points out sin, it doesn't deal with it.

We see in the end of verse 14 that Adam is a type of Christ. How is he a type? Both are representative heads whose actions are imputed to those they represent. Verses 15-17 show in what points the type (Adam) falls short of the anti-type (Jesus). These verses give the difference in intensity between the destructive and the recovering power.

Remember what we said last week about types. Types move from the physical to the spiritual. In the First Testament types, truth is conveyed in an external, physical, and material manner to picture a spiritual reality. In the Old Covenant, God's people were physically part of the nation Israel. In the New Covenant, physical descent plays no part at all in being in the covenant. God's New Covenant people are spiritually born into the covenant. Look at how Paul breaks the physicalness of the Old Covenant types by what he says in:

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:28-29 NASB

Jew means: "a true son of Abraham who brings praise to God." Paul shows that to be a son of Abraham is no longer physical, it is now spiritual!

In Romans 5:15, Adam's offense is contrasted with Christ's free gift:

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. Romans 5:15 NASB

"But" shows a contrast. He has just said that Adam is a type of Christ, then he says, "The free gift is not like the transgression." And then in verse 16, "The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned." In the phrase, "not like" he is denying that there is a balance between them. The gift far outweighs the trespass. The point of verses 15-17 is to show how Christ is not like Adam. The only thing that is analogous is the one man, one act, affects all he represents. Everything else is in direct contrast. Adam's one act brought sin, judgment, and condemnation to his people. Christ's one act brought grace, righteousness, justification, and life to His people.

The Greek word used here for "transgression" is paraptoma, which comes from the Greek, pipto, which means: "to fall," plus a preposition that means: "by the side of." And so, the word transgression is a word that means a falling beside. Now we call what happened in the Garden of Eden "a fall," and so in that sense this is a very appropriate word. Adam's sin was disloyalty to his covenant relationship with God. And when Adam fell, we fell:

"For if by the transgression of the one the many died"--the "IF" is a first class condition in the Greek and should be translated: "since." We ALL sinned in Adam. The wages we receive are death:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NASB

Wages are payment for what you have earned, what you deserve. Because we sinned in Adam, we all get what we deserve, and we are all born spiritually dead. Paul says that the offense of one is the reason for the many being subject to death.

Notice the contrast: "But the free gift is not like the transgression." The words "free gift" are from the Greek word charisma, which means: "a gift of grace, a favor one receives without merit of his own." We are out of the realm of wages here, this is not something we earn or deserve.

"Much more"--this is an "a fortiori" argument, which in Latin means: "from the stronger," and the sense is that if we have accepted an argument, then, surely in the light of the acceptance of that argument, we will have to accept even more certainly the following argument. And so the apostle argues in that way. Much more does not express a higher degree of efficacy, but evidence of certainty. If the one thing has happened, much more certain may the other thing be relied upon.

Please remember that Paul's theme in this section is the absolute certainty of salvation, he is talking about our security in Christ. Paul is saying in verse 15, "Much more certain is the free gift to those who Christ represents than spiritual death is to those who Adam represents."

Our text goes on to say, "Much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace...." The "grace of God" speaks of God's disposition of gratuitous favor. And "gift by grace" speaks of the righteousness of God that is accounted to all who believe.

Our text says that this grace "abounded to many." The Greek word used here for "abounded" is perisseuo, which means: "to super abound, to be in excess, to excel."

Please get this: The grace of God comes to us and does more than just repair what Adam lost. God doesn't just remove our sins, He gives us His righteousness. This is super abounding grace. This is what Paul calls, "exceeding riches of His grace" (Eph. 2:7), and "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8).

We are much better off now than we would have been had Adam never sinned. Adam was in a state of innocence, but we have the very righteousness of God. We are "in Christ." Adam was in a condition where he was liable to fall. We are in Christ and have no possibility of falling. We are not merely restored to Adam's pre-fall condition, we are taken beyond that.

So, we see in verse 15 that Adam's offense is contrasted to Jesus Christ's free gift. Let me make some practical comments here. Death came to Adam and to all men, but death's power can be broken. Christ can break the power of sin:

but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10 NASB

The converse of this is not true, Adam and his sin and his death cannot break back into that which Christ has already accomplished. Only Adam's headship can be overruled. Our salvation is secure, eternally secure!

Many & All?

In verses 15 and 19, Paul uses "many" for the sake of his analogy, and in verse 18, he uses "all" for the sake of analogy. So which is it, many or all?

In verse 15, he uses "many" though he means "all." And when he says "many in Christ," he means "many," not "all." Later on he'll say "all" in Christ because he said "all" in Adam. "All" in Adam means "all," but "all" in Christ means "many," not "all." Got that? Good, let's move on. Just kidding, let's see if we can understand this.

There are people who say that "many and all" mean exactly what they say, and if it means "many" in one place then it means "many" in the other place. This sheer literalism results in universalism, which means: "everybody will be saved."

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. Romans 5:18 NASB

Is this teaching universalism? Will everybody be saved? NO! "All" must be defined by it's context. Often in Scripture the term "all" has a limited meaning. For example:

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. Luke 2:1 NASB

Was every single person living in the world to be registered? No:

And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him." John 3:26 NASB

Was everyone coming to Christ? No, just read the book of Acts, for example:

"Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence." Acts 19:27 NASB

Was everyone in the world worshiping Diana? No, there were many Christians at this time, and they weren't worshiping her.

The "all" of verse 18 is limited in verse 17 to those who "receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness." The "all" refers to all who are under the headship of that representative.

Look with me at:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22 NASB

Everyone does die in Adam, but are "all" made alive in Christ? Verse 22 "all" is limited in verse 23:

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 1 Corinthians 15:23 NASB

It is only "those who are Christ's" that are made alive. The "all" is for all whom they represent. Adam does represent all men. But Christ only represents "all" who put their trust in Him. The phrase "the many" could be used to contrast them with Adam and Christ, who were individuals. The "one" affects the "many."

One of the main hermanutical principles is called the Analogy of Faith. This principle teaches that Scripture is to interpret Scripture. No Scripture can be taken in such a way as to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture.

Does the Bible teach universalism? No!:

and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. John 5:27-29 NASB
"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46 NASB

The Bible clearly teaches that not all men will be saved. God does not love everybody. "Many and all" are used for the sake of analogy.

So, in verse 15, Adam's offense is contrasted to Christ's free gift. Then in verse 16, the extent of Adam's sin is contrasted with the extent of Christ's obedience:

The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. Romans 5:16 NASB

We see here that Adam's sin resulted in judgement, which is the Greek word krima, a sentence, or a decision on the part of a judge. This sentence from the judge resulted in condemnation. The Greek word that Paul uses for condemnation is katakrima. This particular word is only used three times in Scripture, all of them by Paul in Romans. Paul uses katakrima twice in Romans 5:16 & 18 and in Romans 8:1. Katakrima is defined by Suttor in his Lexicon as the punishment following the sentence. It is in a passive formation in the Greek, and it is not likely to refer to the sentence as an edict from the judge, but rather to the punishment.

If all are condemned by that sin, all must be guilty by it, because the Righteous Judge would not condemn the innocent.

"The free gift"--is righteousness according to verse 17--"the gift of righteousness." On the one side, the one sin of Adam led to condemnation of the whole world, and on the other side, the many offenses are covered by the act of the Lord Jesus Christ. God's action in Messiah did not start where Adam's sin started, and merely got it right this time. God's action began at the point where Adam's ended, with many sins and many sinners. Condemnation is a natural and fitting response to transgression. But justification is not a natural or fitting response to a transgression, let alone many transgressions.

If we had not sinned in Adam, we would have sinned on our own, and thus either way we would have been condemned. But if we had not been made righteous in Christ, we never would have been made righteous. We deserved condemnation, but righteousness is all of grace.

Practical note: how many sins did it take for God to condemn the whole human race? One. What does that tell you about God's attitude toward sin? One sin, and the whole race is damned. God hates sin, and He hasn't changed. Just one sin, and everybody dies. This is serious judgment.

We have adopted a scale of penalties for what we consider to be a scale of aggravation. No court in our country would inflict the death penalty on a man who committed adultery against his wife, not even if he had committed adultery with many women. But God is HOLY. Sin, any sin, all sin, brings judgement. This also tells us something about His grace. God has forgiven us not of one sin, but of every sin we have ever committed.

We need to get God's view of sin. Look at the cross, what do you see? Do you see God's hatred for sin as He butchers His only Son? One sin by Adam damned the race, but God gathered up many offenses, and in a gracious act bore them all unto justification.

In verse 17, the two reigns are again contrasted:

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17 NASB

Again the stress falls upon the one man. One man, one sin results in death reigning. Death came in as a conqueror, death triumphed over all. And so the whole of mankind, as the result of this one sin of Adam, has been subject to death.

"Much more"--the reign of death is certain. Just as certain as death reigns through Adam, "much more" certain is the fact that we reign in life through Jesus Christ.

"Those who receive"--does not mean "accepted," but those who were made recipients of--"abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness." God's righteousness is given to us as a gift of His grace. This is another way of saying, "Those who believe the Gospel." When Paul says "those who receive the abundance of grace," he implies that there are those who do not receive it.

Adam lost his own righteousness, but you and I are not merely given back a human righteousness, we are given the very righteousness of God. I stand before God perfectly righteous, totally obedient, never having sinned.

When God looks upon those He has saved through the death of His Son, He sees nothing but the perfect obedience of Jesus. In other words, God declares His people righteous, innocent, and sinless, with all traces of the effects of the fall eradicated.

"Will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ"--He looks forward to the future when men who have received the abundance of grace shall reign. When is that fulfilled? It is fulfilled at the Parousia, which happened in A.D.70.

So we reign in Christ. What does this mean? The consequence of Adam's sin was death reigning over mankind. The consequence of Christ's obedience was mankind reigning over death:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:4-6 NASB

We reign in life, eternal life. We reign in life as kings inheriting all of God's promises. Spiritual death cannot touch us, we reign in life!

Our salvation is secure because we are saved and secured, not by our works, but by virtue of the one act of our representative, Jesus Christ. If death is certain in this world, and it is, much more certain is our reign in eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Are you grateful for the eternal life that you have received in Christ? Is that gratitude manifest in your life? How?

Since my salvation is secure in Christ's obedience, does it matter how I live? If you are asking, "Will how I live affect my eternal destiny?" The answer is no. But how you live will affect your quality of life. When you sin, it cost you. When you are disloyal to Christ there is a temporal price to pay. God disciplines His children in this life.

Let's look at King David, a man after God's own heart. David's sin cost him dearly. He didn't lose his salvation, but he temporally paid for his sin. David's sin cost him and his family:

'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 2 Samuel 12:10 NASB

Notice that God didn't say, because you broke a rule, but "you have despised Me." Sin is relational. David said that the man in the parable who took the lamb should pay fourfold:

"He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion." 2 Samuel 12:6 NASB

And we see that David is judged fourfold from his own house:

1. His child, born of Bathsheba, died (2 Samuel 12:14-18).

2. David's son, Amnon, raped his daughter, Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1,14,21-22)

3. David's son, Amnon, is murdered by David's son, Absolom (2 Samuel 13:28)

4. David's son, Absolom, attempts to kill his father and take over the kingdom. David flees the city, running for his life from his own son. Later in the battle, Absolom is killed:

Then the king said to the Cushite, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" And the Cushite answered, "Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!" The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2 Samuel 18:32-33 NASB

This should give us some idea of the temporal cost of sin. Don't ever take sin lightly, sin is an affront to God and it will always cost us. Our salvation is secure, but God will chasten us in this life if we fail to walk in obedience to Him.

Continue the Series

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