Romans 5:16

Monday, 6 May 2013

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. Romans 5:16

There are different views on our state as human beings before God. Some say that we don’t bear Adam’s guilt at all. Some say we bear it after our first committed sin. And then there is the premise that we are “in” Adam and bear his guilt. The final option is the only biblically acceptable answer. The other two options come from an emotional response to the state of those who have died – maybe based on age or on whether they have or have not been given the gospel. In other words, for many theologians, the thought of death and its consequences is something that moves them emotionally in the direction of a stand which is unbiblical.

However, proper theology cannot be based on emotions. We are to be impassionate in our evaluation, acceptance, and instruction concerning the truths the Bible contains. Passion is to be a result of our understanding of God’s word, not the basis for it. When we set aside our emotions, we allow God to be God. He is the ultimate authority of our relationship with Him.

It is immensely hard to look at someone who is in emotional distress over the death of a loved one who was probably not saved and tell them that there is one way to be reconciled to God and that it is through the work of Jesus. And not only is it through Jesus’ work, but that His work came as a response to the misdeed of Adam, thus implying that all human beings are “in” Adam and must move “to” Christ. But this is what the Bible teaches – both implicitly and explicitly.

Paul tells us that “the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned.” The gift is Jesus; the one who sinned is Adam. He is making a contrast between the two. Adam’s deeds went in one direction, but Christ’s head in another. Next Paul states, “for” in order to show where the contrast leads.  

He initiates the thought with “the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation.” This is Adam’s sin and it is universal in its scope. There are no exemptions for age, level of intelligence, living in a land where the gospel hasn’t been preached, etc. All are in Adam and the judgment was pronounced on the human race because of his transgression. When he sinned, judgment resulted in condemnation. However, in the same verse we are given the good news – “the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”

The gift as noted is Jesus. His work stands in opposition to Adam’s offense and provides the release needed from Adam’s authority to that of Christ. It also results in our justification in opposition to Adam’s condemnation. This is the greatness of the work of Christ. Where man failed, Jesus prevailed. Where God was rejected, through Christ we are accepted. Where man stood condemned because of our earthly father, he can now stand justified because of the gift of our heavenly Father.

Is it fair that man who hasn’t heard the gospel stands condemned? The answer is yes. Adam was given both the gift of sinless life and the gift of free will. Adam willingly rejected the authority of his Creator when he exercised his free will. Along with this came his free will to procreate in his fallen state. Because he did, every person’s life after him has been a decision of man to continue in the state we are in. But from the beginning there was the promise that this state wouldn’t last forever. For those who have put their faith in this promise, there is a better hope.

When Christ came, He was the fulfillment of that hope and now a new direction is possible for the human race. But it must come by the same free will. This is why Jesus gave the great commission. If a person who had never heard the gospel could be saved, then it would be better to never tell anyone what Jesus did. But this would be completely contrary to the biblical message.

Life application: When evaluating the Bible’s message, be sure to keep your emotions from dictating your theology. Rather, let your theology dictate your emotions. When you see the glory of what God has done for you, rejoice in the message with all of your heart. And then let your heart be broken for those who haven’t yet heard it and determine in yourself to get the word out so that they too can know the glory of God in the Person of Jesus!

Heavenly Father, I know that I am here for a reason and that my life can bring You great glory if I live according to Your will. So Lord, please lead me to the truth of who You are and what You have done. When I know Your will, then help me to align my life and actions in a way which will bring You the most glory. Use me for Your good purposes O God. Amen.

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