Adam’s sin was powerful enough to condemn us all to death and judgment. But Jesus is more powerful than Adam! Jesus is strong enough to deliver us from hell and give us back the eternal life that Adam lost for us in the Garden of Eden. Adam stands as our representative in sin and disobedience. If we stay as his children only, we die forever. But if we receive the gift of God’s grace by accepting Christ’s sacrifice for us, then we get to live forever instead. Christ becomes our new head or leader, and we become children of God the Father by faith.
Adam’s “offense” or sin brought death to many (i.e all people because we all die), but in Christ many (a small percentage of all people, but across thousands of years it adds up to millions) are saved by grace through faith (Romans 5:15). While our offenses were many, the one gift that Christ gave us by laying down His perfect life was strong enough to cancel the penalty and power of every sin His followers committed or will commit (Romans 5:16). Death reigns or rules over the lost because of Adam, but we will reign or rule through eternal life with Jesus, both now and in heaven (Romans 5:17). Christ’s righteous sacrifice for us ended a life of perfect obedience on our behalf, and His obedience was strong enough to defeat the disobedience of Adam in all those who know Him as Lord and Savior (Romans 5:18-19). The law of God could not save us – it could only show us how bad our sin problem truly was. But no matter how bad our sin, God’s grace is better and can forgive us and make us new through what Jesus did for us with His life, death, and resurrection (Romans 5:20-21).
So that’s what Romans 5:12-21 is all about. We all must die because of Adam. We are all born with the first man as our leader. But in Christ we can live. We can break away from the line of death and join the team of the last man, Jesus, the team of life! The question is: Who is your leader? Which group do you belong to? Do you follow Adam and your sin nature, or do you follow Jesus and the new life He gives?
The Text (Romans 5:15-21)
15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Questions to Think About
- In what ways are Adam and Jesus similar? In what ways are they different?
- Why do you think that Paul chose to compare the lives of Adam and Jesus to teach us about salvation?
- Why is important to believe that Adam was a literal person and that all people are descended from him instead of from monkeys and slime?
- Why is it important for Christians to see Jesus as their leader and to see themselves as spiritually represented by Him instead of by Adam?