Monday, July 29, 2013

Grace, Adam, and Christ by Martin Wiles

Romans 5:13-21

A. Do you ever think about how your sinful actions or attitudes affect others?

B. Actions always have consequences and sinful actions do as well.

I. Sin and the Law (13-14)
A. Consider the question: Is it possible to break a law even when there is no law against what you have done?
1. Suppose I live in a country that has no law against stealing.
2. Have I broken a law if I steal?
3. If we believe God has ordained moral laws, then the answer is yes.
4. In building his case for responsibility to God and in favor of the sinfulness of humanity, Paul says sin did not arrive after the giving of the law to Moses or when people broke that law.
5. Sin arrived long before the giving of the law. It was started when Satan rebelled against God. It was then perpetrated in the human race through his temptations and as Adam and Eve gave into them. Their acquired sinful nature was in turn passed to all their descendants.
6. The commandment against murder had not been given when Cain killed his brother Abel, but it was still a sin and one God charged him with.

B. The law has nothing to do with salvation-the loss or gaining of it.
1. Obedience to the law does not issue in salvation as some of the Jews supposed.
2. Disobedience to the law does not lead to death.
3. Sin is the base line problem. It brings death, and the only way to escape its consequences is by forgiveness and God’s grace.
4. Physical death (what some believe to be one consequence of sin) took place long before the law was given.

C. What was the purpose of the law?
1. It was not to lead to salvation or to take away the experience of death.
2. Paul will explain in verse 20 that it was given to show what God’s standard was, and by comparison, to show humanity how far they missed the mark.
3. The law was also designed to drive those now aware of their sinfulness to God for mercy and pardon.
4. The law also reminds us we are responsible for our sinful actions.
5. The disadvantage of the law is that it offers no remedy for our problem. With that in mind, it was designed to drive us to Christ.

II. Adam And Christ’s Contributions (vv. 14-19)
A. Adam’s contributions are somewhat negative.
1. Paul seems to place all the blame on Adam, but when we read the temptation account, we see Eve was actually deceived by the tempter.
2. As mentioned previously, the race was considered in Adam, so Paul uses him when contrasting his actions and their results with those of Christ’s.
3. As you will remember, Adam entered into the sin willfully while Eve was deceived.
4. Adam brought death by his sin (this death was certainly spiritual even though scholars disagree over whether physical death was also a consequence of his sin).
5. This death was not only for him and his wife but extended to their children and all their descendants.
6. Not only was their spiritual death but there was also condemnation for the sin that brought death.
7. Since God cannot look on or accept sinful people, and since sin is an affront to his law, it must be punished, and it places us under a sentence of condemnation.
8. Death and condemnation rule over us like the most despicable despot we could imagine. We cannot escape it, and in our fallen state there is no hope.
9. Adam’s sin meant all who were born from him were sinners also.

B. Christ’s contributions are all positive
1. There is a significant contrast between the work of Adam and Christ.
2. The gift of Adam was a sinful nature, but the gift of Christ involves the opportunity to have all our sins forgiven and the relationship destroyed by Adam and Eve restored.
3. When Paul says Adam’s decision brought death to many, this is not to be taken to mean that some escaped death. Many is a general reference signifying that the number of people affected was great. In fact, all were.
4. In like manner, Jesus’ gift of himself on Calvary brought forgiveness to many. The contrast somewhat breaks down at this point. No one escapes the consequences of Adam’s sin. All have received a sinful nature. Believing some have escaped leaves open the possibility of not needing Christ’s forgiveness.
5. On the other hand, all are not automatically forgiven simply because Christ died on the cross. Yet the atonement was sufficient to save all and will affect the salvation of all who turn to Christ for forgiveness.
6. Thus, all have been infected through Adam’s decision and all who ask will be affected by Christ’s work on Calvary.
7. Condemnation and forgiveness are the two polar extremes of the gifts given by Adam and Christ.
8. While condemned for our sins, experiencing God’s forgiveness means having the condemnation removed.
9. Even though we are guilty of many sins, God’s forgiveness means we are not condemned by God. He no longer holds us accountable for those sins but sees the blood of Christ covering them. Not only does he take us into his family but he also refers to us as his friends.
10.  Nor does the curse of death rule over us any longer. Now you may say, “Well Christians die every day” and this is true, but not spiritually.
11.  Salvation does not remove the curse of physical death if in fact physical death was part of the penalty of sin to begin with.
12.  Nevertheless, our state of spiritual death is rectified. In Christ, we live triumphantly over sin and death.
13.  Physical death may take our bodies, but it cannot prevent our spirits from rising to our heavenly abode nor prevent Christ from infiltrating our dead bones with resurrection life.
14.  Again, verse 18 must be tempered by verse 19 as well as the overall message of the Bible.
15.  Just because Christ died on Calvary all people are not automatically saved, but it does create that possibility. Paul recognizes this in verse 19 when he acknowledges that many will be saved because of what Christ has done.
16.  Further, the making of one right with God also involves repentance and faith on their part.
17.  Yet the benefits of knowing Christ are not all reserved for heaven. We enjoy many benefits now.
18.  Christ promises abundant living. We do not just live; we have the opportunity to live abundantly.
19.  God also promises to supply all the needs of his children. He will sufficiently give us everything we need to exist and do his will.
20.  We have power. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

III. The Purpose of the Law and Christ (vv. 20-21)
A. God’s purpose in the law.
1. Paul’s Jewish hearers certainly would not like what Paul had to say about the law.
2. Not only was it not effective for salvation, it was not an antidote for sin and in fact actually increased sin.
3. We can understand this by looking at our own nature. At least as a child-but sometimes even as an adult, we want to do the exact thing we are told we cannot do. For example, the sign that reads, “Wet paint. Do not touch.”
4. This is similar to the argument some make that morality cannot be legislated. This doesn’t mean we don’t need laws dealing with morality, but it is true we cannot make people be moral.
5. Purposes of the law: to point out sin which would in turn make people aware they had sinned, to give people a greater knowledge of sin which would in turn lead to more conviction of humanity’s sins, and to make people aware of their responsibility for their sin.

B. God’s grace outpaces the consequences of sin.
1. God’s grace became more apparent as people sinned.
2. Now this is not an excuse to sin more so we can see more of God’s grace manifested. Sin simply magnifies God’s grace or puts the spotlight on it. Paul refutes this philosophy of sinning more so we can see more of God’s grace in the next chapter.
3. Sin is an example of how God can take something evil and bring good from it.
4. By his grace, we have right standing (justification) with him as well as the hope of eternal life.

A. The power of sin is devastating.
B. The grace of God conquers the power of sin and ushers in forgiveness, abundant life and the assurance of eternal life.

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