Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So far, we have been taught that all men are sinners by nature. Whether we be Jews who have the Law of Moses or Gentiles who have the Law written on our hearts (that is, in our consciences), we are condemned for our sins. The Law condemns, but the Lord redeems us through faith.
We have the same faith that our father Abraham had, when he trusted God to deliver on his promises before he received either the Law or the covenant of circumcision. As Abraham was justified by faith, so too are we justified in that same faith. Because we are made heirs of Abraham in this faith, we are therefore heirs to the promises of God.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, 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:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Justified by Faith
We are all sinners who justly deserve eternal damnation, yet we are made righteous by faith. We need no longer fear our God’s wrath, because he has guaranteed us protection from that wrath. This grants us a deep and incomprehensible peace which we have received only through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We did not deserve this peace or justification, but in Christ we have been given access to these things through faith. This is grace – a gift which cannot be earned but which is received as a free gift. Because we have this gift of grace, we can stand as those who are righteous and rejoice that our Lord will return in glory (because we do not have to fear his wrath, which he has promised when he does return in glory). Moreso, we can rejoice in his glory because this glory will be shown to us redeemed sinners, and we will be permitted to share in that glory to a degree.
Trials and Tribulations
Our Lord has given us peace that passes all understanding. In this same peace, we can rejoice and become stronger in times of trouble because we know that our troubles will certainly end in glory. Even should we suffer and die, as the martyrs have throughout the history of the Church, we do not fear because death is not the end for us.
Instead, we can see what strength and benefit tribulations give us. When we go through troubles, we develop patience to endure all things; when we develop patience, we gain experience that allows us to weather trials ever more effectively; when we have that experience, we gain hope in our Lord and His promises to never press us harder than we can endure. This hope we gain is not a vain hope or a foolish dream, because our God has shown his love to us in our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit who now dwells with us. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter for this reason – He gives to us comfort and love that we can never fully comprehend but always value.
Christ Died for the Ungodly
Remember that Christ died for us while we were ungodly sinners. We lived our lives in defiance of our God, and our every action spat impotently on His face. We were weak and pathetic creatures, but God sent His only begotten Son to die for us anyway.
Think about that for a second. You may know a few people you’d be willing to die for, but they’re your close friends and family who you love very dearly. Even then, you’d probably hesitate to actually die for them if the need arose, and you’d have even more trouble dying for someone you think is a good guy but you don’t have a deep bond with. Your life has great value to you, and you’d hesitate to give it up to save someone you don’t care strongly about.
But our God showed his deep and powerful love for us while we were still sinners who hated Him. We were still sinners, and Christ died for us anyway. We weren’t good men, or righteous men, or even acceptable men – we were his sworn enemies who lived to spite Him. Even so, Christ died for us.
We are no longer ungodly men because of this. His blood justifies us in the eyes of the Law, and so we will not suffer the wrath promised to sinners since Adam first sinned. We were the enemies of God, but now we have been made a part of His family through His Son. We are reconciled as the prodigal son was reconciled to his father after cursing his life (figuratively – he demanded his birthright while his father yet lived, and he squandered it all). And so, because we are reconciled to God and justified in the Law, we will be saved by the life of Christ Jesus.
This is the gospel – the good news. We can rejoice with all gladness and relief because of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our atonement for our sins.
Adam and Jesus
Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to us. As it is written, “The sins of the fathers are visited on their children.” As the just punishment for sin is death, Adam brought both sin and death to all his children.
Now, Paul says something interesting in verse 13. Without the Law in the world, sin was not counted as sin in the eyes of God. If there is no law, there can be no transgression of the law. This seems to indicate that, at least prior to Moses, man may not have been necessarily condemned to hell for his sins. I cannot claim to be an expert on the subject, but it merits deep study.
Whether or not they were condemned to hell for their sins, however, they all died. Every man since Adam and Eve has died because of Adam’s sin, which we have inherited whether we wanted it or not. Death is the punishment for what we call “original sin” – the sin of Adam that we have inherited – but original sin does not inherently condemn us to further punishment.
Jesus is the mirror of Adam. Adam’s sin means we all must die – one man brought death to all men. However, Jesus’s death means we all may live – one man has brought life to all men. Jesus, being wholly God and wholly man, has the power to overcome death and sin (which he showed by living a life without sin and returning from death to life), and so has the power to show grace to many. Furthermore, Jesus’ work is greater still, because while Adam’s one transgression leads to one death for every man, Jesus’ one death and resurrection saves each of us from many sins.
One Adam gave us all death, and one Jesus gave us all life. This fulfills the promise God made to Adam and Eve in Genesis, when he promised their offspring would one day slay even death and sin.
Law and Sin
The Law came to us to make us transgressors. If we did not break the law (even though we defied God naturally), we would not be sinners. If we were not sinners, we would have no need for salvation. Adam’s transgression against the one rule God gave him brought us all death and made us all sinners, but Jesus’ obedience to all of God’s laws gives us the free gift of righteousness. The more we have transgressed against the law, the more powerful his grace. (As Paul already taught us in an earlier chapter, this does not mean we should continue to sin even more so that we can be saved even more. Why would we desire to spite such a generous God?)
Sin ruled all men after Adam fell. The Law made that clear to us. But because we know the depth of our wickedness, we can know the greatness of Christ in redeeming us. Now we live under the rule of grace, which makes us righteous and promises us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us Pray
Blessed Lord God, creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible, we thank you for your unending compassion toward us wretched men. Our father Adam sinned and brought both sin and death into the world, and we have all sinned and fallen short of your glory. Even though we deserve all punishment under your law, you have been compassionate and loving to us and given to us a means of salvation.
We fall on your mercy for the sake of your Son Jesus, the Christ, the anointed one who is your only begotten son, promised to our father Abraham and delivered in due time. Your grace, given to us through faith, is more than we could ever deserve or even comprehend. Forgive us all our transgressions by the blood of your Son, as you have promised, and preserve our faith forevermore.
You are our God, and there is none before you. You are the first and the last. Teach us to understand all things, for you are the font of all truth and understanding.
Let us place our trust only in You, for You alone have both the power and will to fulfill your promises to us.
Once again, I encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter. I’d love to start sending it out daily, but right now it just isn’t viable to publish emails for only a few subscribers.
Also, while I expect to have the next study ready for next week, I am going to a family wedding. If I fail to update, I’m truly sorry.
May the good Lord go before you to lead you,
Behind you to encourage you,
Beside you to befriend you,
Beneath you to uphold you,
Above you to protect you,
And within you to inspire you.