There is a great battle raging for our allegiance. Will you be ruled by guilt or grace? This battle began in the Garden of Eden. Guilt is both a status and a feeling. Adam felt and behaved guilty because he was guilty. He had broken God’s law. His guilt made him feel ashamed. We are guilty of breaking God’s law too. And guilty people feel shame. Shame can move us to repent and turn to God, but often we are reluctant to repent. In Romans 5:12-21, Paul wrote to the saints in Rome that they no longer had to be ruled by guilt, but could reign in the grace of God received through faith in Christ.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageGood morning, church. Good to see all of you. This morning, I bring you greetings from Asheboro, North Carolina, where I just left; I got home about 12:30am last night from the 2019 Ironmen men’s retreat. A great number of our men from both campuses are there, and we’re having a very wonderful time.
Wives that are here, we hope your husbands will return not too beat up. If they come home with injuries, it’s probably self inflicted because of all the sports. All of the guys thought they could play basketball until about 2am on Friday night; we didn’t tell them to do it. They just did it. But it’s been a great weekend, with a lot of spiritual breakthroughs. It’s been awesome.
I would like to highlight one announcement in your bulletin; the reason I would raise that to your attention is because we’re combining with other churches in the Wilson area to do a serve day. Wilson is having a serve day on October 5th. We need people to go to the church center app.; you can download it free and get that on your phone or you can go to the site on your laptop. Sign up to go and serve from 10 am. to 2 pm at Vincent Bynum school right down the street from here. We are going to do a small project; hopefully you’ll sign up. If you want the T-shirt, it is really cool, you can sign up to get it. We need for you to sign up immediately. Please do that because we want to represent our church as we serve in our city on that day.
We are continuing in the book of Romans with Righteousness Revealed, part 2. In the Fall of 2018 last year , we covered the first four chapters. I promised, over the next few years, we would take it in four segments carefully, hopefully, as the Lord gives us strength. We’re in that second segment; we’re taking on chapters five through eight. So, now we’re in the latter part of Romans, Chapter five.
We found our title for the series in the first chapter. It says this in Romans 1:16-17 (ESV) “ 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed …” That’s what we’re talking about; here’s the beautiful thing about the book of Romans. God has said you can’t save yourselves by your own human effort. And so He sent His own son, Jesus, so that He might justify you. In other words, that you might be counted just, that you might be counted righteous through faith in Christ. This is the center of the gospel that God’s righteousness is revealed in Christ.
Tim Keller, as he talks about this particular section of Romans 5:12-21,says that this passage is “very carefully crafted,” forming a conclusion that gets us ready for the rest of Romans. John Stott writes that its readers may find it complex, but that most students have . . . “… admired its craftsmanship. It may be likened to a well-chiselled carving or a carefully constructed musical composition.”
We’re getting ready to encounter one of the more beautiful sections, one of the more beautiful, astounding books called Romans. Charles Swindoll sees in this passage both a summary of what preceded and an introduction to what follows. He seems to be summarizing previous sections and introducing and preparing us for that which is to come. He says that the first three verses actually summarized the theme found in the earlier part of Romans that humanity has been ruined by its sin. And then he takes note in versus 15 -19, but God, Christ has offered us a rescue. And then in the final couple of verses, he introduces where he’s going; that it is possible by faith in Christ, that we will no longer have sin reigning over us but we will reign in life with Christ Jesus. And so he’s introducing the rest of the book.
Take note of today’s sermon, Reining in God’s Grace. You see, there’s a great battle for our allegiance; a great battle. Will you choose to be ruled by guilt or by grace? How will you live this life? Will you choose to just live it under guilt or would you choose to come under grace and live that life?
This battle began in the Garden of Eden. A great battle took place there. Adam was given one command: to avoid one tree and not eat of that one tree. Yet, we all remember what he and his wife did. They couldn’t keep even obey one command. His decision to disobey changed everything for the entire human race. Afterwards, Adam and Eve, how did they respond? After they had eaten the fruit, they hid themselves from God in the garden. They covered themselves with guilt and hid from grace. You see, guilt is both a status and a feeling.
It’s, first of all, a status. The reason we feel guilty is because we are guilty. It’s a status because we have sinned; every one of us in this room, not one left out. We can all say I’m part of that group. I’m part of the family of Adam because I am a sinner, and the reason we feel guilt is because the status is true. But then the feeling takes a different kind of direction when we feel guilty because we’ve broken God’s law and we tack onto that, shame. And so we hide from God. That’s what we do. We hide from God and we try to cover our shame in our own human ways in self effort. We make fig leaf underwear to try to cover up; we are reluctant to repent. We are reluctant to come out into the light and step into the presence of God. So, rather than repenting, we stay shame faced and we hide.
In today’s passage, Paul will compare two men: Adam and Christ. Adam, the first Adam, if you will and Christ, the last Adam, because both of them, as Paul will tell us, they are also a type. In other words, there’s something to understand.
Here’s the question I would ask you, “Will you live your life in Adam or in Christ? I’m gonna ask you that again at the end. Are you in Adam; are we all in Adam? We’re all born that way, but have you died to that and are you now living in Christ? Would you live under the reign of guilt or grace?
In Romans 5; 12-21, Paul wrote to the saints in Rome that they were no longer ruled by guilt. They didn’t have to be ruled by guilt, but they could rein in the grace of God received and faith through faith in Christ. And we no longer have to be ruled by guilt. We could come out into the light, and we can rein in God’s grace through faith in Christ.
How’s this possible? Well, we’re gonna look at the text and we’ll see three ways to live by God’s grace, through faith in Christ. Are you ready to get into this passage? Let’s read. It starts at verse 12 in chapter five, Romans 5:12-21 (ESV) 12 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. 15 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 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. 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. 18 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. This is God’s word. Amen.
We’re looking for three ways on how we can live by God’s grace, through faith in Christ; how we can reign by God’s grace. Here’s the first (1) Understand our ruin apart from God, apart from Christ. We are looking at verses 12 – 14. We encounter that word again, therefore, and we always ask when we see it, “What’s it therefore?” It signals Paul’s intent to summarize what brought him to that grand and wonderful exultation in Chapter 5: 1-11 because all of Romans had been building a case. In Chapter five, he starts saying, we rejoice. We rejoice. , And so there’s this great up exultation this great, this great glorying in the justification in that word. That’s a big word, but believers, I want you to know that word. It means that God has counted us even though we are sinners, even though we are unrighteous, when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, He has counted us righteous. He has counted us just. What does justification mean? It means that God looks at us “just as if we never sinned.” He’s counted us just even though we’re not because of our faith in Christ, who is just. He summarizes that and then exults in it in the first eleven verses. But now he’s going to back up, so he’s using the ‘therefore’ to signal.
Let me, just in a couple of verses, tell you all the stuff I had told you before I got to chapter five. In verse one , he’s going to do this by means of talking to us about one man, Adam. He’s gonna talk to us about this guy, and then he’s going to compare and contrast Adam with Christ. It’s a beautiful way of helping us understand something.
He starts off by saying, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man…” So sin came to one man . Sin entered into God’s good creation. God made a beautiful creation in everything he made. He looked at man and said, ‘I did good. It’s good.’ But then, sin. ]What does sin mean? It literally means “to miss the mark.” It means you didn’t hit the bull’s eye; you fell short of God’s glory. It means to miss the mark; sin entered through one man.
I don’t know what they taught you in school. I don’t know if they how talked about the origin of life, the origin of humanity and the descent of man. These are things that we learn in school. The Bible says that humanity began with one man, not many men. One man. We believe this because we believe the Bible, that Adam is a real person. He really existed. God took the dust of the earth and he breathed life into him and he became a living soul. This is what we affirm.
Some would say, ‘well, you know, the first few chapters of Genesis must be discounted because they were written before the scientific era. It’s more like poetry. The problem is, if you take out Genesis chapter one and two, you have to also cut out Roman’s, chapter five and many other segments. You have to cut out the sayings of Jesus who believed in a literal Adam. There was a man. His name was Adam, and he was made in perfection without sin, and he was put into a perfect environment, perfectly made for him.
Listen , if you think you can live your life without sinning and you have been born into an imperfect environment, in an imperfect body, you better think again, because with all that going for him, Adam still sins.
We’ll see this word “one” thirteen times and nine times for “one man.” It’s either one man, Adam or one man Christ. As you’re going through, he’s trying to point out to us the importance of knowing which one you’re in, which one is the head of your house.
Warren Wiersbe says this, “The key thought here is that when God looks upon the human race, He sees but two men: Adam and Christ. Every human being is either “in Adam” and lost, or “in Christ” and saved; there is no middle ground.” Who are you in Adam or Christ? Verse twelve has a section that’s challenging. Many things about Romans have a need for long prayer, meditation and consideration. Paul gives us deep waters here. He says, just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin. So with sin came death, sin’s partner. They came in as a duo as a devilish duo. Sin and death came in together. They entered into creation.
Why is there suffering in God’s good world? If God is God and all powerful, why do bad things happen to children? And why do bad things happen to what we would call good people? We think they’re good. Sin has a partner named death. It’s death that has entered into God’s good creation. It entered through one man, Adam. It came via him. And so death spread like a cancer. It spread to all men. And so all die; we all die, and we all will face death. Paul’s explaining how this happened.
I cannot find in any human philosophy or religion a better explanation for the reality we see in our world. The Christian worldview is not only the right explanation as we believe by faith, but it’s the best explanation. I would challenge any other world view to explain how we came to be in the “fix” that we’re in. You have to remember I’m from the mountains; we say, “I’m in a fix.” This is what Adam has brought to us. We’re in a mess.
Then, he says something that’s kind of a challenge. Death spread to all men because all have sinned. The interesting thing about all have sinned is it’s in this Greek aorist tense and you don’t need to really understand a lot about this. I’m just explained to you we don’t have an equivalent for that in the English language. This aorist tense of a verb says that sometime in the past, at a particular point in time, something happens, and then it has continuous result ongoing. What’s troubling about this is it’s saying that when Adam sinned, all men sinned.
Here’s something I have to tell you. I don’t remember being there. I kind of wish I could have been there. I think it would have been nice to have been in the garden with Adam. Something about what Paul’s teaching here is he is saying that we are all present in Adam because he is our head. You know there’s something going on there. There’s something mysterious going on. I don’t want to dig into all the doctrinal possibilities because I don’t want to give you the spiritual headache I had earlier this week trying to understand it. . But all of humanity now came under sin and death because our head, Adam, sinned. When he sinned, he chose it for all of us. He sinned. He chose it for all of his children and friends, There are no races. There should not be racism because the whole idea is a lie. We’re all children of Adam unless we choose Christ by faith, and then we become children of God by faith. There’s really only two families. There’s the family of Adam and the family of Christ. Death spread to all men because all have sinned. We’re all, in that sense, in Adam.
Then it says for sin, indeed, was in the world before the law was given. So he’s now trying to explain to, maybe those people from a Jewish background, or today, maybe for those people from a Christian religious background that sin was in the world before the Mosaic Law was given. So from Adam, he goes on to explain it right in verse 14; he says, “Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses.” He’s on a timeline now; he started at creation. He’s talked about Adam, and here we are in just like a couple of verses. In chronology, he goes like in a time machine to you also from there to the law being given through Moses.
Did sin and death reign? Yes. . Was there a law yet? No. So why was sin and death reigning if God had only given one law, as far as we know and that was, ‘don’t eat the fruit.’ Adam broke that law. Why is that? Because God had given them a conscience. Romans, chapter one talks about that They had revelation through creation. They could see there was something bigger, but they denied it. So God was allowing sin and death to reign, even though they didn’t have the full revelation. He says this; sin is not counted where there is no law. In other words, that’s not what was being accounted to them. That’s not what had brought sin and death into the world. What had brought sin and death into the world was Adam. He brought it in and it spread. It wasn’t the ongoing sin. It was the first sin that introduced it. We’re understanding something; that sin got into the world and it brought death through this one man.
Roman says this earlier in chapter two. You could say, well, if they didn’t know, if they didn’t have the law, they’re sinning out of ignorance and they’ve never heard the word, how can God hold them accountable? Romans 2:12-15 (ESV) “12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law… 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” So, even if we don’t have the word, we still have in our hearts an understanding that we’re breaking that much, that we do know it makes us without excuse.
So, when Paul says that sin was not counted when there was no law, wasn’t Cain punished for murdering Abel? There was something that went wrong in his life after that, that God allowed. Wasn’t the world destroyed by the flood because of the sin of this is prior to the law. Didn’t God judge Sodom and Gomorrah? So it can’t be that people were excused during that time. It was that death and sin was reigning because it was already in the world.
Now, we look at verse 14, “ 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. So there’s this people who didn’t have a command from God written down somewhere, or that they verbally heard in person from God. But they were still sinning because the sin nature had been inherited from Adam. When he sinned in death, the fall of man took place so that humanity has a bent. It no longer leans towards God. It bends towards self. And so just like an odometer, instead of being full, it goes towards empty. Instead of going towards God, it goes towards self; at that point, we have a bent towards sin. And so he’s saying they didn’t seem like Adam.
Adam had a transgression. The word transgression means that there was a real boundary, a real command, and he willfully stepped over. Transgression speaks of an act of will. Whereas sin is a more general term; it means you missed the mark. You could have missed the mark because you didn’t know where the mark was. But this was a transgression; Adam knew. Adam knew, and he still ate the fruit. The transgression of Adam is different. It’s a deliberate stepping over the line.
First Timothy, chapter two, verse 14 said the woman was deceived, but Adam wasn’t. Women, you’re in a better shape. Actually, you were deceived. He wasn’t. He did it willfully. It was a transgression for him. He did it with his eyes wide open because I know I’m breaking God’s law right now, but I think I’d rather be that woman. And men have been doing that ever since. Thanks God or that woman. I’ll take that woman, huh? I needed some humor, didn’t you? And then in verse 14 he reveals this. There is something right here in Verse 14. In that period between Adam and Moses was not like the transgression of who was a type. In other words, an example of the one who was to come.
Who’s the one who was to come where we’re getting there. His name is Jesus. He’s the last Adam. Adam’s head ship is going to be replaced by a new headship.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 (ESV) Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now, we finally found out in the 1800’s that Lake Victoria. in the central African country of Uganda, is the headwaters of the Nile. But for years and years, europeans could not find the headwaters of the Nile. On August 3, 1858, John Hanning Speke discovered the headwaters of the Nile to be a huge inland lake in Uganda, that he named Lake Victoria after Britain’s queen. He discovered this huge inland lake in a place called Jinja Uganda. The head waters flow out. And it just so happens today that there is a Baptist theological seminary in Jinja today at the headwaters of that beautiful Lake, Lake Victoria. But it was all through that time, you know, people like Stanley and Livingston and all those wonderful stories trying to confirm that John Speke was correct because people didn’t believe him when he didn’t have proof to show. And it was Stanley of Stanley and Livingston who actually discovered Lake Victoria, which they weren’t calling it that by the way. They didn’t call it Lake Victoria in Uganda, but he named it after the British Queen in 1858. And then he found the headwaters, right? We’re looking at it here. You have been shown it.
If you look there, there’s two sources. This is called the White Nile. This is called the Blue Nile. And then from here on they combine in Khartoum and they spill all the way out into the Mediterranean. Not many lakes flow north. This one flows north. Here’s Uganda. There’s Jinja. There’s Lake Victoria. The europeans had found this area. They had found this head water, but they couldn’t figure out where this part of the Nile’s coming from. It was finally discovered in 1858. Adam is our headwaters, all of the river of humanity, flows out of Adam, and with him, sin and death flows downstream to us. Do you understand our ruin apart from Christ?
Here’s the second point; let’s get to this. (2) Recognize our rescue by Christ. Recognize our rescue by Christ. Let’s look at the next few verses. I like how verse fifteen starts off with the word, “but.” I need to shift years. I need to get away from Adam. 15 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. So one trespass, one man caused many to die, so from one to many, much more have the grace of God in the free gift. By the grace of that one man, here comes Jesus Christ.
For many, he’s talking about the superiority of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. He’s talking about the superiority of the grace. Here’s the question that we sometimes ask. Haven’t you heard somebody say this? ‘I don’t see how you Christians make such a big deal about a man who lived 2000 years ago. How does that affect me in the modern age? The guy, he was just like a country guy that lived on a path, you know, up there, in Nazareth. You know, even when he went into Jerusalem, they said, You know, can any good thing come from Nazareth? The guy’s got, you know, Southern Jewish accent, you know? I mean, like, if he could have at least had a British accent, he would have sounded a lot more impressive. We’ll do anything a British guy tells us today. Did he sound smart? And so why does he matter ?’ Don’t you have people ask you that? What’s the big deal about this guy?
He changed everything. If one man could bring sin and death, Paul reasons and rightly so, that one man who is obedient can bring life and grace and righteousness. He can undo what Adam did, and so he has. This is his logic, and it makes perfect sense. But he’s making this beautiful comparison now because there’s so many here and because it would take a while to unpack it. I’m going to fast track it a little bit with a chart. Here’s Adam. He was tested in a perfect world with a perfect outlook He had never seen, so he he didn’t have a bent will, but he willfully failed the test.
Jesus, the second Adam was tested in a fallen world. Matthew, chapter four, He was tested in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, and he was tested with the same three tests that Adam and Eve were tested. Jesus passed the test. Notice this; Adam ate from the forbidden tree. Jesus was crucified on a tree. There’s a contrast going on between this first Adam and the second Adam. He brought in one trespass. He broke one law about one tree through one man. Sin came and abounded too many, so that it’s flowing down from Adam’s river from the headwaters of Adam, which explains why sin and suffering and death are in the world today. But now, through one free gift, the Greek word for free gift is Karisma, from which we get the word charisma. It’s a free gift. It’s comes out of the root word Charis , which is grace. It’s a grace gift. It’s a free gift. He freely gave himself . Through him, through his one act of righteousness. There were many acts, but his singular act is He died for us, even though he was not a sinner.
Okay, many died as a result of Adam’s one trespass, and now many have received grace for the last 2000 years. They met a new river, the New Headwaters. Adam brought condemnation. You see one trespass, many die. Condemnation has the sense that you’re already under judgment. Perhaps you haven’t experienced the fullness of it yet. The fullness of what that implies separation from God in the eternal state, not just in this world, but in the life to become condemned already because you’re in Adam’s river. But if you died Adam and lived to Christ, you are justified. (Pastor Gary is going through the chart)
God’s free gift covers many trespasses, many sins. It covers all. Just as if I never sinned. Even though I did, God counts me just because Christ was obedient. As a result of Adam’s death reign but then we will reign in life. Verse 17, “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.” What do we talk about every time there’s a government vote; ‘ who’s gonna pay for my health care?’ Because we’re somehow under the delusion that if we could just live another ten years, we will be happy. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with that. We want to be healthy and those kind of things . But we’re somehow under the delusion that we can live forever through our own medical care or something like that. I’m not trying to overstate that argument, but to understand, I don’t think any of us have defeated death except one Man. All of Adam’s kids have died. Then I thought a Enoch who walked with God and he was no more. Then I thought of Elijah, who was carried away in a fiery chariot. I think maybe the grace of God earlier took ahold of these men, and I think maybe for all of us there’s a day coming when we’ll all be carried away. We’ll all be lifted up, all of us, that are in Christ. Death will not take hold of us.
But here he says, death reigned and it reigned over those in Adam. Much more will those who receive the abundance of grace in the free gift of righteousness. Reign is back up in that verse again. Paul loves that in chapter five. It’s like you have some ice cream and then you get to put some foam and a cherry on top until it runs off the plate. That kind of much more will those who received the abundance. Okay, let’s throw some more on there. Now it’s just running off on the table. Those are the ones who reign in life much more will those who receive. We don’t do anything except receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness. Who brought that? Jesus. So we received that. Those were the ones who will do what? Reign in life. Are you looking at the text with me? Those who receive will reign instead of death, reigning over you will reign in life, and so life defeats death through the one man Jesus Christ. And so we have this death reign, and now we will reign in life.
One man’s disobedience, one man’s obedience. made many sinners, made many righteous. That’s a summary of verses 15-19. It’s beautiful. Galatians 3:13 (NLT) “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” In order to be rescued, you have to cry out for help. If you take a class on knowing how someone’s drowning, you take a lifeguard class. If you go to a swimming course and you want to be certified as a lifeguard. How many of you have taken that course? One of the things they teach you is the signs of a person drowning. You would think it would look the person’s drowning, but it rarely does. It usually looks like someone working their head off trying to manage it themselves, especially if it’s a man, because they’re ashamed to ask for help. They are thinking, ‘Maybe I’m not drowning. Maybe I can get this under control.’ It’s usually almost too late before they will ask for help. And at that point, they’re so out of breath, or maybe already taking on water. So drowning is physically drowning.
We need a rescue. How do you get out of Adam’s river? How do you stop drowning in Adam’s river? You gotta ask for a rescue from the lifeguard; his name is Jesus. He started a new family. He’s the new head. You need to say, ‘I can’t do it myself,’ because everyone in Adam drowns. Everyone in Adam suffers. Everyone in Adam dies. We’re all made sinners in Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (ESV) “21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Amen. That’s what we’re talking about. Do you recognize that you need a rescue? Finally, the third way that we can reign in the grace of Christ is to (3) Receive our reign through Christ. Receive our reign through Christ. I need to look back at verse 17 b again because I’m just not finished with it. I just love it too much. And it’s so beautiful, Who are those who will reign in life? And if you look up there at 17 again, it says for if because of one man’s trespass, death reigns 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. We need to figure out who “those” are. They’re the ones who received the abundance of grace in the free gift of righteousness through the one man Jesus Christ.
Are you one of those? Are you one of those who said I need a rescue? You will reign in life. Much more will. Those will has a future tense to it. It starts now, but the best part is later. Some people, hoping to help someone who had a death in their family, as they’re standing in the funeral line at the funeral parlor, trying to think, ‘What should I say?’ If you’re thinking that, don’t say anything, just just tell them you’re praying for them. If you can’t think of what to say, don’t try. You’ll make it worse. Sometimes you’ll stand in line and you’ll hear people say, ‘Well, they’ve got their angel wings now.’ Well, that’s heresy because the scripture says that we will rule with Christ and the angels will be under our rule.
What has God done through Christ? He has made us children of God. We will reign in life with Christ, the head of our family. Listen, we are a family. If you’re a believer in Christ, if you have received Christ, you will reign in life. I don’t have time to go into all the implications that the Bible speaks of. And then there are the mysterious unknowns beyond that which are greater even than what is revealed I suspect to be co-inheritors with Christ, to reign with Christ and to reign in life. It’s in the future, but it starts now.
Let’s skip down to verse 20 because he’s going to come back to this reigning thing again. Let’s just read those versus again to get us back on track now. He went to the past. He talked about how we got in this fix we are in through Adam, how we ended up sinking in a river of sin and death, drowning in it, trying to make our way out. And then he goes on and he talks about there’s a new Adam. His name is Jesus and he will rescue you if you’ll just receive his rescue.
In verse 20, the law came. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass.” Why would God do that? You know what? They’re going to sin anyway. I’m gonna give them the law and let them, just make them sin more. Is that how he was thinking? I don’t think so, but that was what happened because here’s what happens. All you have to do is to raise a toddler and you’ll know this is true. You’ll agree with me. Tell them not to do something and see what happens. Just tell him not to do something. In fact, get a teenager under your roof. They will not do something. Now they’ve become a lawyer. Not only would they not do it, they’ll explain to you why you’re wrong for telling them. It’s human nature.
We are in the river of of Adam. And so if we hear a law, we immediately wanna break it because we have the “bends.” Remember this; we’re not bent towards obedience, we are bent towards disobedience. We’re not bent towards following God; we were bit towards rebellion. The first thing I remember my children saying when they could speak in complete sentences was, ‘I do it myself. I will do it my way.’ And so I think that when God gave the law, he didn’t do it so that our sin would increase. But it was grace that he gave it so that through the law we would see how far we have fallen. In a way, the law comes and says, ‘You’re drowning’ and perhaps we didn’t know it yet. And so when we encounter the law and the standard is this high, we go, ‘I’m underwater. I can’t get up to there. I can’t do this.’ And there’s grace in that because now you can call for help.
He says that law came to increase in verse 20 and and there’s grace in that. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. This is going to set him up for Chapter six’s discussion. We won’t open that yet but it’s coming. In verse 21, “so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If you’re in Adam, you’re under the reign of sin and death. You’re under its rule. You can’t break out; you can’t stop sinning. You can’t stop dying, you’re under it. That’s what it says. But here comes, “so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign.” We now see earlier is that those who had received God’s Christ grace and righteousness could reign. You can reign in life. Now here comes grace reigning. It’s both and not either. Paul hasn’t said something contrary; he is adding additional information. Grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pop up my chart again. I’m adding one item. Do you see it at the bottom? Here’s the additional item: law increased sins reign and death grace reigned through righteousness to eternal life. That’s a summary of 20 and 21. The contrast between what Adam brings and what Christ brings is grace; grace reigns. So we reign in life and grace reigns over us. What is Grace? It is freedom. What is grace? Unmerited favor. God is not against you.
Last week, someone came to pray with me and they told me about many tragedies in their life. They summarized, after tears, pointing out the death and the travail in their life. And they said, ‘I feel like God is punishing me. God’s against me.’ I led the person through a description of the Gospel. I said, “Hey, if you believe this , have you believed that Jesus died for your sins, that he was buried and that he rose on the third day? Have you believed that? And have you called him Lord of Your Life? And have you received the free gift of salvation through Jesus? Have you done this? You are under God’s favor now. You are his favored son. He will not be against you. He is for you.”
Grace is unmerited favor. I described this a little bit last week, and it’s this picture that I think was in Life magazine of John F. Kennedy’s son, John Jr., playing under his desk as he’s doing business in the Oval Office. The older people are shaking their heads and the younger people… go and Google it. We’re like John Jr.; not many people get to play under the president’s desk. You have to be a son. You have to be a daughter. That’s who we are. That’s who we are. We reign with Christ and we have over us the rule of grace, which is unmerited favor. And once you have received the gift of life through Jesus, the gift of grace, you can’t say, ‘I think you’re against me, Lord,’ because you’re saying something that would break his heart. It would be like going to your mom or dad, who are bending over backwards to do everything to take care of you, and saying them, ‘I don’t think you love me. I think you hate me. I think you’re trying to make my life miserable.’ You’re stomping through life like a teenager going, ‘You never let me do anything that I want to do. You never let me have what I wanna have.’ Grow up. God is not against you, Christian. You’re ruled under grace, under his favor and when this suffering comes, we talked about this last week, it gives us courage and endurance and perseverance through it. because we know he’s not harming us. He’s making us more like Jesus. So don’t waste the pain .
Adam had been given authority and dominion over the Earth. We read it in Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV) “26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Adam was supposed to be a king, but when he surrendered to sin and death, his crown fell sideways on his head. We’re still trying to be in dominion, and we kind of are, but we’ve introduced death into our world. Then, Christ comes.
Revelation 1:5-6 (NKJV) “5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” I’m not sure I totally get this yet, but he’s restoring the rights that belong to us through a new head, Christ Jesus. So we’re kings and queens. We are princes and princesses, if you will, under him, we reign with him.
Christ is the last Adam and the head of the church. 1 Corinthians 15:45 (NLT) “The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.” The first Adam, the first man, became a living person. But the last Adam, Jesus Christ, is a life giving spirit.
What are you doing? What are you doing now? Are you still drowning in the river called Adam? Are you trying to hide when you have guilt in your life? What will you do? Some of the most crazy things. We try to minimize it. So it’s not that bad. We try to hide from God like Adam did. I mean, that’s pretty crazy to make fig leaf underwear. We deny our guilt. We go to psychologists who gets to lay on couches and they medicate us and tell us we shouldn’t feel guilty. They try to deny it as if it weren’t there . The reason we feel guilty is because we are guilty, but we can do something with our guilt. Come into the light and get rid of your guilt. Stop denying it. Stop minimizing it. Stop blame shifting. Sometimes we get religious and think we can work it out. We can swim. We can do this. We can swim. No, you can’t. You’ll drown.
Unfortunately, since we’re children of Adam and Eve, we can’t cover ourselves any better than they did. We’re still trying to sew fig leaf underwear around our sins and they won’t cover it. God has come through Christ. Will you come out of hiding? Will you call for help? Let’s pray. Lord, take, this offering of exposition and, by your spirit, enlighten people’s hearts and minds beyond my attempt. Your words are so rich. I pray that you would expound them even in people’s hearts so that they have hearing ears that are hearing it. Right now, it’s sinking down to their hearts. I pray for that person right now that’s here this morning and they heard the gospel finally. Maybe they’ve been coming to church for a while. I’m praying for them right now that they recognize you can’t do this yourself. It’s a free gift. And after you get it, you can’t hang on to it yourself. You must let him hang onto you. Don’t fight him. Let him take you to shore. Oh, I pray for you right now that you’d stop your self effort and come to Jesus, our rescuer and that you’d let grace reign over you. God loves you. He loves you. Would you pray right now to come to Christ? Pray like this. Dear Lord Jesus, I believe you died for me that you died for my sins. I believe it. I believe that you were buried and on the third day you were raised and that you live today come and live in me. I invite you by your spirit. Forgive me of my sins. I turn away from them and I turn to you. I want to be in Christ. I want to be a child of God. Save me today. If you’re praying that prayer today, believe in your heart, he will change you from one family to the next. From the family of Adam to the family of Christ and a child of God. Others are here today, and you’re a child of God. But like the person who said, ‘I feel like God’s against me,’ would you just confess that you have accused God of something false. He has such favor for you. Would you just say God, ‘I’m going through some stuff right now but I’m not going to hide from you. I’m not gonna accuse you falsely. I’m going to say God, here I am. Take me through this by your power so that I glorify you. I know that you want me to reign in life and to be under grace and not law. Help me ton walk it out now in Jesus name.’ Amen.