Scripture References: Romans 5
The Basis of Our Justification – Continued
The two “one acts” are contrasted (verses 18–19) – Continued.
From last lesson: Justification is not merely a legal term that describes our position before God (“just as if I’d never sinned”); but it results in a certain kind of life. Our justification is the result of a living union with Christ. And this union ought to result in a new kind of life, a righteous life of obedience to God. Our union with Adam made us sinners; our union with Christ enables us to “reign in life.”
Law and grace are contrasted (verses 20–21). “The law entered,” literally meaning “then the Law came in beside.” Grace was not an addition to God’s plan; grace was a part of God’s plan from the very beginning. God dealt with Adam and Eve in grace; He dealt with the patriarchs in grace; and He dealt with the nation of Israel in grace. He gave the Law through Moses, not to replace His grace, but to reveal man’s need for grace. Law was temporary, but grace is eternal.
But as the Law made man’s sins (and knowledge of sin) increase, God’s grace abounded even more. God’s grace was more than adequate to deal with man’s sins. Even though sin and death still reign in this world, God’s grace is also reigning through the righteousness of Christ. The Christian’s body is subject to death and his old nature tempts him to sin; but in Jesus Christ, he can “reign in life” because he is a part of the gracious kingdom of Christ and it is a promise of that “life . . . more abundantly” (John 10:10).
An Old Testament story helps us understand the conflict between these two “reigns” in the world today. God rejected Saul as the king of Israel, and anointed David. Those who trusted David eventually shared his kingdom of peace and joy. Those who trusted Saul ended in shame and defeat.
Like David, Jesus Christ is God’s anointed King. Like Saul, Satan is still free to work in this world and seek to win men’s allegiance. Sin and death are reigning in the “old creation” over which Adam was the head, but grace and righteousness are reigning in “the new creation” over which Christ is the Head. And as we yield to Him, we “reign in life.”
In Romans 5:14, Adam is called “a type of Him who was to come.” Adam was a type, a figure, or picture, of Jesus Christ. Adam came from the earth, but Jesus is the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47). Adam was tested in a Garden, surrounded by beauty and love; Jesus was tempted in a wilderness, and He died on a cruel cross surrounded by hatred and ugliness. Adam was a thief, and was cast out of Paradise; but Jesus Christ turned to a thief and said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:43. The Old Testament is “the book of the genealogy of Adam” (Genesis 5:1) and it ends with “a curse” (Malachi 4:6). The New Testament is “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1) and it ends with “no more curse” (Revelation 22:3).
You cannot help being “in Adam,” for this came by your first birth over which you had no control. But you can help staying “in Adam,” for you can experience a second birth, a new birth from above, that will put you “in Christ.” This is why Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).
The choice is in your hands, remain “in Adam” and reign in death, or accept being “in Christ” and reign in eternal life, a life much more abundant.