Friday, 10 May 2013
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, Romans 5:20
The previous verses concerned Adam’s trespass in contrast to Christ’s obedience. Paul demonstrated the superiority of Christ’s work in all ways concerning the two and the glory of what He accomplished. Now Paul returns to the thought in verse 5:13, “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
Sin was in the world and death reigned even though the law had not yet been introduced. However, or as Paul says it today “Moreover…” The “moreover” is intended to highlight the incomprehensible nature of God’s grace. The contrast between Adam and Christ is striking – “All hail the work of Christ!”… And yet there is more. “Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound.”
One sin committed by Adam in innocence (meaning prior to the knowledge of good and evil). Brought about death to all people. How much more will a body of law comprised of 10 major commandments and 613 total commandments bring in offense! The law was introduced as a tool to show to us “that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.” Romans 7:13
We can look at death in the world and we can rely on our conscience, even apart from the law, to know our fallen state. How much more do we see it when our actions are compared to God’s standard as outlined in the Law of Moses. And the law didn’t come without warning. There are promised blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. When Israel failed to be obedient, they could only expect punishment and exile. The law was such an immense demonstration of our inability to meet its standards that the people in Jeremiah’s time cried out –
“That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.” Jeremiah 18:12
What they had failed to see is that the law wasn’t an end in and of itself, but that it was a tool to get them to rely on God’s grace and mercy. Even under the Old Covenant this was shown to be true. But the people normally took one of two avenues –
1) Living out the law as a means to an end which brought about feelings of self-righteousness and contempt for others and even God or,
2) Simply disregarding the law because it could never be met anyway.
They failed to see that even under the law, God’s grace was available and evident, such as in the Day of Atonement feast. If they could, like David, understand this precept, then they would have seen that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” This is what Paul is saying. The immensity of the guilt because of the introduction of the law allowed an even greater demonstration of God’s grace. This could not have been evident without the law. Unfortunately, too few realized the scope of God’s grace until the introduction of the ultimate example of it, Jesus.
With the coming of Christ Jesus came One who could fulfill the law; and He did. After accomplishing this glorious deed, He gave His life as a Substitute for those who could never meet it. As Paul says in Galatians 3:24, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
The law was our tutor to grab us by the spiritual hand and walk us directly to the cross where the eternal fount of God’s grace pours forth. It is the place where grace abounds in all its fullness.
Life application: Nothing changes, those under the law rejected the premise that only faith could save them and they looked to law as a means to an end. In the church today are those with the same mentality, “I will prevail by my deeds.” Neither satisfies because both are based on a faulty premise. We can’t do anything to please God in and of ourselves. We can only look to Him for the righteousness which comes by grace through faith. Put away your deeds of self and cling to the cross and all its glory.
Lord God, when I read the many requirements laid out in the law, the beauty of the cross shines all the more brightly. Where the weight of the law crushes me, the majesty of the cross lifts me up and restores my weary soul. Thank You for doing what was impossible for me… but such is the nature of grace. And I receive it in Jesus’ name. Hallelujah and Amen.