Tuesday, July 17, 2007

the gift and the trespass

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned"-- (NASB ©1995) Romans 5:12

"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." (NASB ©1995) Romans 5:15

"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." (NASB ©1995) Romans 5:16

One could attempt to argue the unfairness of it all. Christian doctrine teaches that sin entered the world through one man. One lousy guy (Adam) messed up big time, and consequently, all humanity down through the ages has been afflicted with the stamp of sin. Without the benefit of inductive study (not to mention the help of the Spirit!), the average educated and rational person may take affront to this truth. Alternatively, a steeped-in-Sunday-School-Christian might take a different track and snake the long pointy finger of blame directly back to big brother Adam. "Sin is not my fault. He started it."
Inductive study of the passage in question might clear the air altogether. The main subject of Romans 5 could be summed up as "results of justification". After reminding us of the peace and love that are ours as God's redeemed, the apostle Paul warms up to his case. His example of Adam's sin and the havoc it wreaked is merely a shadow that compels us to look to the image that cast it: Jesus.
Imagine yourself strolling down a country lane on a cloudless summer day. All at once, an inexplicable inky shadow ripples over the road before you. What would be your first physical reaction? Simple! You would give yourself whiplash looking upward to see what caused the shadow. As a compass points north, so the Scriptures point to Jesus and His work on the cross.
Back to Romans 5. After Paul the lawyer establishes that sin entered the world through one man, he points out the differences of Christ's accomplishment: more specifically, that the free gift is not like the trespass. Check this out: by the disobedience of one (Adam), many were made sinners. By the obedience of One (Jesus), the many will be made righteous. One trespass (Adam's) brought condemnation for all men. But one act of righteousness (Jesus') resulted in justification that brings life for all men. A closer look at Romans 5 brings the amazing work of Christ to the forefront, and leaves the shadow of Adam's sin in the dust.

I never cease to be astonished by God's perfect plan.


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