Sunday February 21st
You know it’s been over 50 years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, but a lot of people still don’t know about the first woman astronaut to walk on the moon.
Here is the transcript of her talking to NASA after the lunar module had just landed:
"Houston, this is the lunar module - we have a problem."
Lunar module this is NASA. What is the nature of your problem?
Lunar module please repeat. What is the source of the problem?
Lunar module, if there is a problem you need to tell us.
Lunar module are you there?
"Houston, you should know what the problem is without me having to spell it out for you."
In Romans chapter 5 we aren’t going to talk about the first woman on the moon or the first man on the moon, but we are going to talk about the first man, Adam.
All of this will come in the context of a discussion about justification. Starting with the first two verses:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God.
Paul says “therefore” because the last word of Chapter 4 was “justification”. Justification is the process by which we are made holy and righteous – we are “justified” – not by anything we have done, but simply by what Jesus has done for us, by dying on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
And because of that justification we have two things, peace and hope. When we accept Jesus’ forgiveness, peace is established. We are no longer at war with God, no longer separated from God, and we now have access and are welcome to be in God’s presence.
And along with this peace we are given hope. Hope is the expectation and assurance of something not yet fully experienced. We know that this hope is guaranteed by the love of God that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts. And this hope can carry us through the challenges and trials of life, so much so that rather than being frustrated by our trials, we celebrate them! What? Yes, that’s exactly what Paul says next:
3 And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
When we have hope, we recognize that God is using our tribulations to teach us patience and perseverance, which builds godly character, which leads to even more hope.
Now look at what Paul identifies as our greatest source of hope:
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
The nature of our hope is the tremendous love poured out by Jesus on the Cross. God acted to save us “at the right time,” in the moment of our deepest need, while we were “still helpless” and “still sinners”.
Why would someone do that? Why would anyone choose to die for helpless sinners, people who were literally God’s enemies? That incredible mystery is what Paul addresses next:
7 For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11 And not only this, but we also celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Never forget the powerful truth of these two simple words – Paul says that Christ died “for us” More specifically I want you to embrace the incredible reality that Jesus died “for you”! And by His death He achieved for us “reconciliation” by our broken relationship with God.
Our separation from God was erased by Jesus removing the cause of it (our sin and our guilt).
And in verse 9 Paul adds that we’ve actually received “much more” than just reconciliation. If God would do that “for us”, the work of reconciliation, at the cost of the suffering and death of His own Son, He surely won’t withhold anything else from us that we might need.
We’ll see this emphasized again later in Romans 8:32
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Okay, so remember how I said this would all come back to the “first man” Adam? That connection starts with verse 12:
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not counted against anyone when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the violation committed by Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Paul uses another “Therefore” just like he did at the beginning of the chapter. This indicates that what follows is connected in Paul’s mind with what has already been said regarding justification and reconciliation. Paul is now laying out a comparison between the “one man” Adam and the “one man” Jesus Christ.
In the case of Adam, the focus is on his “one sin” by which we all “were made sinners”. All of humanity had Adam as our representative before God, and that’s why his sin made us all sinners.
Keep in mind that Adam wasn’t meant to die. None of us were. Mankind was originally created to have eternal life.
Death is not a natural phenomenon, it is the direct result of sin.
Adam, the first man, was the divinely appointed representative of all of humanity, and his sin forfeited eternal life for all those he represented.
(Thanks a lot Adam!)
In the same way, Jesus, who was equal with God, became a man so that He could be the representative of a New Covenant with humanity so that His obedience would nullify or counteract Adam’s disobedience. And because of this we regain our eternal life through this thing called justification.
That’s what Paul addresses next:
15 But the gracious gift is not like the offense. For if by the offense 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, overflow to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one offense, resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the gracious gift arose from many offenses, resulting in justification. 17 For if by the offense of the one, death reigned through the one, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
When Paul says that the free gift is not like the offense, he is pointing out the contrast and the significant difference between Jesus and Adam. Not only are the acts of these two men antithetical, or completely opposite in nature, but the grace of Christ is much greater than the sin of Adam in the way it brings new life to ruined souls.
It’s easy to cause death. It takes supernatural power to restore life! Jesus power beats the power of death!
18 So then, as through one offense the result was condemnation to all mankind, so also through one act of righteousness the result was justification of life to all mankind. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
There is a parallel between Adam and Jesus in that condemnation (in Adam’s case) and justification (in Jesus’ case) are the direct results of their actions.
On the basis of the actions of “one person” “many people” are made either sinners or righteous. Adam is root of all sin, and we all sinned and fell when he sinned. In contrast, “by the one man’s obedience” those whom Christ represents are “made righteous”.
Adam ruined it for us all. Jesus fixed it for us all.
Keep in mind that Paul grew up as a Jewish man, under the Law of Moses, so he always wants to distinguish the role of the Law in God’s plan for reconciliation. And as Paul will point out over and over again, the Law has no power to justify or to forgive sin, it can only point out sin.
In fact, what he says next about the Law might really shock you:
20 The Law came in so that the offense would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, so also grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Did you see what he said there?
The Law came in so that the offense would increase!
Listen to this commentary:
The Law was given as an additional element in God’s dealings with His people, so “to increase the trespass.” While sin was in the world before the law was given, the law reveals sin in its specific character as trespass, lapsing from a set standard.
Let me explain this in a little more detail.
Stealing is wrong. Even if nobody ever tells me that stealing is wrong, it’s still wrong.
In our courtrooms there is a principle that says “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.
So I can’t escape the punishment for my crime by claiming that I didn’t know that bank robbery was against the law! (My bad)
But from a moral perspective, my guilt would be even greater if I knew that I was breaking the law and still did it deliberately.
That’s why God laid out the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. He wanted the people of Israel to understand that their behavior was clearly in violation of His standards, for their own good.
His goal was to increase their awareness of their sinfulness so that they would recognize their need for a savior and cry out in repentance.
That’s the biggest reason why the Pharisees had such a hard time with Jesus. They didn’t want to admit their own sinfulness.
So Jesus turned up the heat even more, saying that hatred is just as bad as murder, and lust is just as bad as adultery. The simple fact is, the sooner we accept the truth about our own sinful nature the better.
But here’s the good news. In the face of this increased awareness of sin, we see those wonderful words in verse 20 “grace abounded all the more”.
The grace of God is able to not only keep pace with the offenses of sin, but grace outdoes sin, overrules sin, erases sin by way of the great work of salvation accomplished through Jesus Christ.
Have you had enough of Sin? Ask for more grace!