Romans 5:18-21

As Paul winds up Romans 5:18-21, he continues to compare and contrast Adam and Jesus. From this passage, Adam and Jesus are sometimes known as the two men. Between them they represent all humanity, and everyone is identified in either Adam or Jesus. We are born identified with Adam; we may be born again into identification with Jesus. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” Guzik explains “The idea of Adam and Jesus as two representatives of the human race is sometimes called Federal Theology, or Adam and Jesus are sometimes referred to as Federal Heads.

This is because under the federal system of government, representatives are chosen and the representative speaks for the people who chose him. Adam speaks for those he represents, and Jesus speaks for His people. Someone may object: “But I never chose to have Adam represent me.” Of course you did! You identified yourself with Adam with the first sin you ever committed. It is absolutely true that we were born into our identification with Adam, but we also choose it with our individual acts of sin. The outcome of this election – choosing Adam or Jesus – means everything. If we choose Adam, we receive judgment and condemnation. If we choose Jesus, we receive a free gift of God’s grace and justification.”

If we boil it down, Adam’s disobedience makes mankind sinners. Jesus’ obedience makes mankind righteous. We have to choose which will represent us. The reality is that all of us will start in Adam’s bucket as sinners.  All have sinned and fall short of God’s standard. It didn’t happen to us, we made intentional choices to sin, but we are all sinners. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Jesus was sent by God to give us the opportunity to overcome our sin and become righteous, justified by His sacrifice on the cross that can become ours through faith.

Paul ends by reminding us that the law doesn’t make us sinners – we make choices that do that. The law makes man’s sin clearer and greater by clearly contrasting it with God’s holy standard. “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sin is rampant among all of humankind. But God’s grace through Christ is abundantly more – we cannot out sin God’s grace.  We can’t sin more than God is willing and able to forgive. We can choose to reject His grace and forgiveness but it is ours for the claiming through faith in Christ. If we don’t receive it, there is no one to blame but ourselves. He’s made it available to all!

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