Romans 5:12-21- Death in Adam, Life in Christ
Explanation- When Adam sinned, all of the world fell with him. He became the ‘federal head’ of all those who would come after and passed the curse of death along to his offspring. In turn, those who came after Adam, even if they did not sin in the same way that Adam did, have come under sin’s dominion. Even before the Law was given to Moses on Sinai, death was present. This is a difficult concept to grasp since where there is no law, sin is not counted. Yet, as Paul states and history testifies, death reigned from Adam to Moses. This plague of death was the result of Adam’s sin, and because of it, we, to this day still experience its sting. In this sense of ‘federal headship,’ Adam was a type of Christ. Just as the sin of Adam spread to all of his offspring because of his act of disobedience, so the offspring of Christ receive justification and imputed righteousness as a result of His obedience.
While the free gift of Christ does share similarities with the consequence of Adam, there are differences as well. The main one which I would like to highlight is found in verse 16. Paul says, ‘the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.’ (emphasis mine). It only took one act of disobedience on the part of Adam for the whole world to suffer the consequence of sin. Death came, and in a very real sense, the world died. Yet when it came to the free gift of God, it is astounding that as trespasses increased more and more, this gift came and brought justification to those under the curse. It is for this reason that the free gift of God through the work of Jesus Christ is greater than the trespass of Adam. As Paul goes on to say, ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20). Through one man (the first Adam) came sin into the world, and through one man (the second Adam, Jesus Christ) came eternal life and grace.
Application- Adam’s sin plummeted the whole world into death and decay. Not only was mankind affected by the fall, but the natural order was cursed as well. Since that time, all of creation has been subject to the disastrous effects of sin’s consequences. Left to itself, creation, and we, along with it, would continue on is a state of decay and corruption until finally, our planet tore in two, and we all perish. Praise God that this is not the end of the story! God was not content to leave creation in its miserable estate but sent forth His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem that which had been lost. There is now hope for the fallen man who finds himself under Adam’s burden, and that is the hope of the righteousness of the Second Adam, who succeeded where the first Adam failed. Christ accomplished that which could not be accomplished by mere man and established Himself as the federal head of all those who would come to believe in His completed work! When we look to Christ, we have great hope and assurance in the life to come. A life free of sin, guilt, death, and misery. This is a life that is spent in the very presence of our dear Savior forevermore!