|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|What did Jesus do that broke the power of sin and death in our lives? What power have we been given to allow us to live “in Christ”? Dr. Barber gives us Paul’s answer from Romans 5.|
When you’re in Adam, you don’t know what good news is until you hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to live in Adam any more. Jesus broke the power. Because of His grace, we have the free gift, charisma. Remember ma means the result of His grace, that instantaneous change that He brings into your life when you put your faith into Jesus Christ. He broke the power of Adam’s sin. He broke the power of death. He broke all of that so that you and I could have His life and could be declared righteous before God.
Not only have we been identified with His death, but we’ve been identified with His life. It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the resurrected life that we’re now attached to. Jesus said in John 15, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” When you graft a branch into a tree, the branch begins to reap all the benefits of the life of the tree! So it is with the life of Jesus. One of the things that hit me in this verse was He didn’t just do what He did so that one day when we die on this earth we can have all this inheritance. He did what He did so we can reign in His life right now! How many Christians understand that?
Well, we move into verse 18. You sort of see the flow of what Paul has been doing. Really he is just showing us the difference of what Jesus has done compared to what Adam did.
In verse 18 he says, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” That little word justification there is the word dikaiosis. It comes from the word dikaioo, which is only found two times in the book of Romans. The word means to declare righteous, to declare someone righteous.
We want to see that, because of His resurrected life, now we can be declared righteous. It’s because of His resurrection. This really takes what we have just said and magnifies it in verse 18.
When you talk about the death of Jesus, you’ve got to remember the death of Jesus was not enough for us to shout about. There had to be a resurrection. It is all one event, but it doesn’t all focus on the death. It focuses on the fact, “Did He resurrect?” If He hadn’t been raised, there would absolutely be no hope for us.
Romans 4:25 gives both sides to this. First of all, it says, “He who was delivered up because of our transgressions.” This is the horrible price Jesus paid. The word “delivered up” has the idea of being handed over to somebody else’s hand. They are going to take Him to the cross, and they are going to crucify Him. Can you imagine? He is the Son of God! The Son of God willingly allowed Himself to be handed over into the hands of those who were going to put Him to death. That’s what it says. It speaks of the cross. It speaks of the crucifixion.
When He was lying there, and they were nailing the nails in His hands, they didn’t know that He created the oxygen they were breathing to give them the energy to put Him on the cross! He is the Son of God! He is the God Man! But He willingly allowed Himself to be handed over. That’s the death. Don’t ever forget the death. Don’t ever forget how horrible it was. He didn’t die of a heart attack. He didn’t die falling. He died a cruel, horrible death on the cross. We must remember that. We must continue to remember. This is what our sin cost God.
But that’s only half the picture! It goes on in the verse and says, “and was raised because of our justification.” You see, the work was not finished until He was raised. He couldn’t just go to the cross. This is the whole focus again coming back in on the resurrection. The death and the resurrection must always be included because it is the resurrection to life. If you didn’t have that, we couldn’t go into chapter 6 because it is going to say that we are united with Him in His death, but we are also united with Him in His resurrected life.
“Do you mean to tell me that when I put my faith into Jesus Christ, I’m propelled two thousand years back and His death is now my death and when He died I died and when He was raised I was raised?” Yes! That is what he is trying to get across to us. Jesus didn’t just reverse the penalty of Adam. He regenerates us and puts His life in us. Where death used to reign in us now life reigns in us. If He had not resurrected as a man, bodily, then we would have absolutely nothing to hang onto today. But He did rise from the dead!
Go over to Romans 8:34. What a chapter when it talks about suffering and about who shall separate us from the love of God in verse 35. But look at verse 34: “who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” The resurrection! It’s the resurrected life of the God Man. Remember, on the cross Jesus dismissed His own human spirit. Jesus as God did not die. The man died. He dismissed His own human spirit. Then He raised Himself from the dead. He raised the man up, and in the man, the God Man, we have the resurrected life. It is in that life that He has given to us that we can now live. It’s infused into us.
Look at Romans 5:10 again. The little preposition there can be “in” or it can be “by.” Either way, it still has the picture. In verse 10 it reads, “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” or “in His life.” It’s the resurrected life. That’s what we are attached to. Oh, we have got to see this! This is what makes me different! This is what makes me a brand new creation!
We are going to see a word in chapter 6 that is going to excite you. I’m going to go ahead and tell you now. There are two words for “with.” One is meta. If I am with my wife, we are together, but not necessarily in any other way.
However, the word sun, the other word for “with,” is going to be used in chapter 6. There it says that we have been united together “with” Him in His death and we are united together “with” Him in His life.
Let me explain that little word. Take the ingredients of a biscuit and mix them all together. Put them in the oven and bake them. When you have baked them, all of those ingredients that you mixed together when you were putting them in the pan are “with” each other in such a way that no scientist on this earth can ever separate them. That’s the word! We are united in His life! This is shouting ground! We are now, I mean forever, united in His life. It is His life that gives us the victory! And because of His life, we can be declared righteous. There could be no other way. It’s because of His life which we have.
In the Old Testament, only when the High Priest took the blood within the veil and sprinkled it on the mercy seat was the offering for sin completed and the covenant fellowship with God established. Only then! You can have all the covenants you want, but until you went on that Day of Atonement into the Holy of Holies, the High Priest taking the blood and putting it on the mercy seat, it was then that covenant could be established. It had to happen.
Do you realize Jesus’ work was completed when He Himself raised from the dead and went into the heavenly Holy of Holies? You do know that the Holy of Holies down here, the Tabernacle and all, was just a pattern! There’s one in heaven! Hebrews says He went in as our High Priest with His own blood. When He went in THEN all that we have NOW in Jesus Christ can happen because it was accepted. It was the propitiation for our sins, and therefore, God gave Him a name above every name and exalted Him. He is not only the just one, He is the justifier. He is the one who can declare us righteous.
So Paul is saying, “Look at the difference in what Jesus did as opposed to what Adam did. Adam selfishly sinned and the whole human race was plunged into it. Death now reigns inside the person who is in Adam. But Jesus, becoming a man, with no curse of sin in Him, put Himself up under the consequences of sin, went to the cross, identified with us fully, died as a man, and rose as a man, and now His resurrected life as the God Man is what we are attached to. That is what justification is all about!
When you start looking at what Adam did and what Jesus did, you just want to stay there from that point on. You see, it is in His life that we now have victory and can reign! Look in I Corinthians 15:17. Paul is talking about the bodily resurrection of Christ. He says, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
So if we come back to Romans again, we see what Paul is talking about. He says, “So then, through one transgression, there resulted condemnation to all men.” But now he points to the one act of righteousness. He says, “through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” So we begin to see the difference in what Christ did and what Adam did. Because Jesus died and raised, now we can be justified. We are declared righteous.
If we move into verse 19 we see even a clearer picture of what Paul is saying. In verse 19 he uses two words to show the attitude of Adam and the attitude of God: “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”
The two words are the disobedience of one man and the obedience of the other man. They really caught my attention. Both of the words come from the little word akouo, which means to hear. However there is a different preposition in front of each one of them. The difference is like night and day!
When Adam disobeyed, the word used there is the little word para, which usually means alongside, and then the word akouo, which means to hear. He heard alongside. He heard amiss. But it also means he heard without the serious intention to obey.
Look in Hebrews chapter 2. Hebrews is written, of course, to a group of Jewish believers. Persecution was going on at that time and they had not yet striven unto blood, so therefore it couldn’t have been that bad. You could be a Jew and practice Judaism, but you couldn’t be a Jew and practice Christianity. Some of the Christian Jews said, “Hey! We’re Jewish by birth. We’ll just be in the secret service. We’ll go through the sacrifices until the heat gets off. Then when the heat gets off, we’ll come out of the corner and say, ‘Fooled you! We’re Christians!’”
The author of the book of Hebrews says, “What are you doing? Jesus is better than Moses.” He is saying, “You are walking away from the very thing that saved you out of where you are headed.” In other words, go back to Christ! He is better than the prophets. He is better than the angels.
Then we come into chapter 2: “For this reason we pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
Do you see the attitude that is built into this word? It’s a person who hears but who neglects; a person who hears but who willingly says, “I don’t really have a strong intention to do anything that I’ve heard.” Now that’s a word that we all need to get familiar with. I think we already are, because sometimes that’s the way we are with truth, isn’t it? We hear it without any serious intention to obey it. That’s what Adam did, and the one sin that he committed in disobedience cursed all mankind. So you see how serious it is.
The second word comes from the same root word of akouo, but it puts the little word hupo in front of it. It means, “to hear up under.” It’s the attitude. We need to learn it because it’s the attitude Christ demands toward Himself of every person who is a Christian. That’s the attitude we need, to be hearing up under. Every time we hear Christ, we need to hear Him with an absolute intention of obeying and a surrendered heart with no other focus whatsoever.
The Lord Jesus obeyed. As the God Man he subjected Himself to the Father and stayed in complete obedience without any neglect or any other intention in His life except to fulfill what He came to do. What a gorgeous picture. One full of selfishness, the other filled with selflessness. He came to die for us, and that was His focus. He never altered from that focus.
That word “obedience” is a significant word. It shows us the attitude, the motivation. Adam was only concerned about Adam. So Adam, having heard God, neglected what God said and went on and did what he wanted to do and cursed the human race. Jesus, before the foundation of the world, before Adam ever did that, knew he was going to do that, and planned to be the Lamb who would come to be slain on the cross for you and me to be redeemed. So, which would you rather turn to? Would you rather turn and listen to what Adam did, or would you rather turn and listen to what Jesus did? You see, the difference is so clear in our hearts.
Look at Philippians 2:3-9. I want to make sure you are hearing what I am saying here. What I’m trying to get you to see is the attitude. The attitude Adam had was a selfish attitude. The attitude that Jesus had was a selfless attitude. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.”
So you see the attitude and the difference between the two, what Adam did and what Christ has done. Christ did it willingly. Christ came with an attitude and a focus that never stopped, and He never had in His mind anything but doing what He had come to do.
When you start teaching on justification by faith, you start talking about the results of the grace of God, there are two groups of people who are going to take issue with you. They are false teachers, both of them, and they hate what Paul has just said. They can’t stand justification by faith alone in Christ Jesus. They think you’ve got to add something to it. One is a group called the “legalizers” which were predominant all through the letters of the New Testament. Paul dealt with them everywhere he went. He could spot them because he used to be one of them! He knew them. He knew how they worked. He called them savage wolves when he met with the elders of the church of Ephesus. They jump on the message of justification by faith. They jump on the message of grace, salvation by grace and faith alone. They can’t stand it.
That’s not the book of Romans! The book of Romans says you’re helpless. Remember chapter 5? The word “helpless,” asthenes, means you are feeble, you are weak, you are paralyzed all the way down. You can’t move. You know you’re in a dilemma and you can’t do a thing to help yourself. Jesus came to do it for you. Put your faith into Him! You see, the “legalizers” were everywhere trying to add Law to grace.
But there was another group in that time. This was the group called the Antinomians. Nomos means law. That’s the other extreme. Here’s the legalist over here saying, “You might be saved, but you had better cut your hair! You had better carry a Bible as big as I carry. You had better wear certain kinds of clothes.” They take the convictions that they might have and cram them down the throat of a new believer. They say, “This is what you have to DO to be saved.” They add Law to grace.
The Antinomians were the party-goers. “We’ve been saved by grace! You can do whatever you want to do. We’re saved by grace. We’re FREE in Jesus!” It’s the same pole, just two opposite ends of it.
The Antinomians are the ones Paul is anticipating opposition from. He is about to address that as he starts off chapter 6, but you have to finish chapter 5 first. So in verses 20 and 21 he shows you the purpose of the Law, the compassion that God had in giving it, and then he leads us into a statement which invokes a question that starts chapter 6. There are two questions in chapter 6, in verse 1 and in verse 15. The whole chapter is spent answering those two questions.
Look with me back in 5:20 as we ease down toward chapter 6: “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” That phrase “the Law came in” is also used in Galatians 2:4. I thought it was interesting how it is translated. It says, “But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.” The idea is to come in alongside. It’s not as if God sneaked it in. God is not a sneaky God! He did it in a subtle way. He didn’t take the Law as a hammer and beat man over the head with it saying, “I’m sick of you guys.” That’s not what He did. It was out of His love that He brought the Law alongside of man.
Why would He bring the Law alongside of man? To show man that he is a sinner, not just that he had sinned. He had sinned, and that must come from someplace. God wanted to ultimately show him THE transgression that is in his life, causing the sins that are in his life.
Look at the verse. “And the Law came in that THE transgression might increase; but where THE sin increased, THE grace abounded all the more.” When I study this, I see a definite article popping up at me everywhere I look. I know that grace is bigger and extended far beyond salvation experience. I know God’s grace is something that we’ll not fathom until we see Him one day. Salvation is certainly a part of it. But I see Paul speaking here of THE grace of what Jesus did for us, THE gospel message. I see him speaking of THE sin of Adam with its penalty and its power. And I see him speaking of THE death which was tagged to Adam. So if you follow that line of thinking, the context stays the same and he just continues talking about what he has been talking about.
“THE transgression might increase” simply means more and more people would begin to understand that they are sinners! THE sin. So therefore THE grace can abound. What do you mean, THE grace? The gospel message of what Jesus did for you and me. You see, when a man hears the gospel message, first of all he’s got to hear in it that he’s a sinner. The hardest thing in the world is to get a man to understand that he’s a sinner. He’s in Adam. It’s not so much what he does, it’s what he IS! Then the grace of what God has done can abound the more to the people who are beginning to see that they are sinners. So the Law was given for a good reason. Paul said it is good. It’s not bad! Something good has been given to us.
The compassion is in the verse. It says, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Then in verse 21 it continues, “that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You see, the Law was given to expose mankind. But the statement says that where sin increased, grace abounded even more.
You can hear that old Antinomian thinking, “I’m putting two and two together here. The more I sin, the more grace will abound! That’s fun! So let’s go out and just have ourselves a good time. Let’s go out and sin. We can call ourselves Christians because the more we sin, the more grace is going to abound.”
That statement and that reaction is what Paul anticipates. Therefore he leads us with that right into Romans 6:1. Look at the statement: “What shall we say, then? Are we to continue in [THE] sin that [THE] grace might increase?” What is he going to end up saying? “May it never be!” That’s the strongest repudiation that’s found in the New Testament. Paul uses it almost ten times in the Book of Romans. It is absolute absurdity to think that a believer who has been taken out of Adam, where death reigned and sin reigned, and has been put into Christ can somehow go back and live in what he has been taken out of. There has been a death and now there has been a new life.
First John says you can’t live habitually in sin and claim to know Christ. I was preaching one night in I John chapter 3 and I saw a man sitting out there who had that distasteful look on his face. I thought to myself, “Why would he respond that way? Why would it seem so abnormal to say that a person who had put his faith into Jesus Christ cannot go back and live habitually in sin?” Well, maybe he had never studied Romans. What Paul says in Romans is, “If you’ve been taken out of Christ and you’re dead to THE sin, which is its penalty and its power, and you’ve been put into Christ, how can you continue to live therein? FOR you have been united in His death, and you have been raised to walk in newness of life.”
If you start understanding Romans you’ll see you’ve been made a new creature. Don’t you go around telling somebody you can live in sin like you want to live in it. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t sin. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with sin. But the fact that you habitually go back and live as if you were in Adam completely strikes against what took place when you were born again. That’s why what Jesus did for you is so totally radically different than what Adam did to you. Jesus ended the reign of death and put in the reign of life. You have now been plugged into it. We need to get a handle on that. From the penalty and from the power we have been saved.
Do you know the song “Rock of Ages?” It says, “be of sin my double cure, save from wrath to make me pure.” There are the two things. Jesus saved me from the penalty and now His life is in me to make me holy and to save me from its power. We cannot go back and live as if we were still in Adam. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. Well, we’ll get into all of that.
Do you see how the Antinomians would take that? “Good deal! We’ll just sin some more and get some more grace!” Paul says, “May it never be!” I can’t wait to show you how that expression is used in Romans. He means, “It’s an absolute absurdity that it should ever come up.” You think the doctrine hasn’t been watered down today? Ha! That almost sounds like an abnormal doctrine, doesn’t it? After you live so subnormal for a while, you see something that’s normal and you think it’s abnormal. That’s the way people are. Are you grateful for what Christ did in your life?