12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 5.12 introduces a new topic for Paul.
Paul’s topic from Romans 1.18- Romans 5.11 has been consistent: how God has completely dealt with the fact that man has sinned. You and I have done unrighteous things, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, God has dealt with the problem of your sins by placing them on Jesus. Jesus bore your sins and now you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The correct theological term for this is “justification”.
Justification is the process where God declares an unrighteous person righteous by virtue of the fact that Jesus died for their sins. You cannot be justified by any action or any religious ritual, but only by believing in Jesus Christ. This is called justification by faith.
Romans 5.12 introduces another section of this book, which continues to the end of Romans 8. The topic of Romans 5.12-Romans 8 is not justification as much as sanctification. What this word means and how it applies to a Christian shall be explained as we work through the next few chapters.
By now I want you to realize that in addition to the problem of your sins, you have a second problem. A far worse problem: the problem of sin.
Sins and sin. It is a subtle difference but one that is so important for you to live in victory. In the previous 5 chapters Paul has expertly explained that Jesus has paid the price for your sins. Now he is going to show you how to deal with sin.
So what is the difference between sins and sin. A good analogy, and I am greatful to Watchman Nee for this analogy, is to imagine a factory making a product. The product is the same as sins, but the factory is sin. Even if you went all throughout the country destroying the product, you wouldn’t ever be able to complete your task as the factory would still be making the product.
Even, in the same way, you have committed sins. The work of Jesus has completely dealt with your sins, by placing them all on Jesus. Jesus paid the price for your sins. Every single action that was selfish, unrighteous, destructive, disobedience to God, dishonouring to God, disrespectful to other humans: Jesus paid the price. And we are declared righteous because Jesus paid the price, not because of anything we have done or could ever do.
But the fact is this: inside your heart, before you became a Christian, was nothing short of a sin-factory. All the sins you ever committed came from somewhere: and they came from your heart. You acted selfish because you were selfish. You lied because you were a liar.
This is contrary to much of modern thinking about psychology and behaviour. Many people today will determine your behaviour by your actions: if you lie, then that makes you a liar. That is not true: you are a liar, that is why you lie. There are clinics and self-help programmes all over the place that are dealing with behaviour and managing behaviour. But people do these programmes and after a few months are doing the same things again and again. The product has been destroyed, but the factory is still there.
The beauty of the gospel message is that Jesus doesn’t just deal with the product: he destroys the factory. He doesn’t just forgive all your sins, He gives you a new heart. So many Christians are told that Jesus forgives, but are then left to struggle to live right and live a life of victory and joy. Paul outlines the full gospel in Romans, and in the next few days and weeks we are going to learn how not just to know that you are righteous, but how to live a righteous life in the world.
12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world
Like he does with the problem of sins, Paul starts in Romans 5.12 by introducing the problem. The problem is this: by one man (Adam – who was a real person made by God in His image just as the Bible says), sin has been brought into the world. Adam sinned.
and death by sin
Death is brought into the world by sin. Sin always leads to death. If there is no sin, there is no death. You are going to die because you sinned. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will be going to hell. That is the reality of the situation. Sin leads to death and hell, and without Jesus paying the complete price, you would die and enter hell. But because Jesus dealt with your sin, you can enter heaven and enjoy heaven on earth.
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Adam sinned. Adam, like every human, was made up of three elements: spirit, soul and body. When Adam sinned against God, immediately his spirit died. Adam could no longer communicate freely with God without fear, without shame. From that moment, gradually his soul started to die. He has his first argument with his wife, one of his son’s murdered another, his thinking and his emotions became darker. Eventually at the end of this death process, his body died.
That happens now to every son of Adam. Adam’s entire nature changed due to sin. It happened to you and it happened to me. We were born on the planet spiritually dead. We do not care for God, we do not seek God. Over time our soul – our emotions and our thinking and our decision making power – dies. We lose the ability to think, we lose the ability to empathize. We start getting pleased and having positive emotions at negative and sinful situations. Eventually our body will die, and our sin-filled dead spirit and soul will descend into hell for eternity.The fact is that you were by nature a child of wrath. By believing in Christ, you have been made righteous, and you can now enter heaven. All your sins have been forgiven.
The only escape from this is to be born again. Being born again means that your dead spirit is reborn and is now a living spirit. Now you can hear the voice of the Lord, your conscience is restored. Your living spirit will start to influence your soul, and your thinking will become clearer. And when your body dies, you will ascend to heaven and enjoy heaven. At an appointed day, your body will be re-created as a sinless and incorruptible body, and you will enjoy a new heaven and a new earth, in the presence of the Lord, forever.
But you don’t have to continue living the same way when you become a Christian. Becoming a Christian isn’t just God wiping the slate clean so you can get into heaven when you die: it is God throwing the slate away and giving you a brand new life: a resurrection life, the life of Christ. How this works and how you can enjoy this life is the theme of Romans 5.12-Romans 8. And in the next few days and weeks, we will unpack this for you.
I hope it excites you as much as it does me,