As in Adam, So in Christ

Adam and Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:18
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As Adam’s transgression and its resulting condemnation was imputed to all who are in Adam, even so Jesus’ righteousness and its resulting justification is imputed to all who are in Christ Jesus!

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The Whole Argument

I would like to start today by reminding you of the whole argument which Paul has been making in these last 9 verses of Romans 5.
As Adam’s transgression and its resulting condemnation was imputed to all who are in Adam, even so Jesus’ righteousness and its resulting justification is imputed to all who are in Christ Jesus!
If you recall some weeks ago when we were beginning this section, I had given you a sort of rough outline, a sketch if you will, to help ensure that we not go off-course in our thinking, but understand the whole of what the apostle is teaching here. And I think it very appropriate this morning that we revisit that, having now spent several weeks in the midst of these rich and important verses.
As you may recall that when we started these last 9 verses of Romans 5 I had laid out the structure for you in this manner: v12 had started introducing us to the theme, vv13–17 formed a digression, vv18-19 picked the main argument back up, and then vv20–21 provide us with the essential understanding as to the place of the Law.

Introducing the Main Theme (5:12)

Paul started this whole section very specifically and deliberately in order that we would understand he was writing one single, unified section right from the onset, writing:
Romans 5:12 (LSB)
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned⁠—
I say that he introduced the theme, but he never really completed it - he was starting an analogy by saying “just as”, but never completed the thought, he never finished the balance of the analogy. Now we understand he did so out of the necessity that we truly comprehend just what it was that he meant when he declared that “death spread to all men, because all sinned”,
So then, he digressed in Romans 5:13-14, saying
Romans 5:13–14 (LSB)
For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the trespass of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

Understanding the Imputation of Sin (5:13-14)

This was a true digression here, Paul was most anxious that we not mis-understand what he was saying, knowing that in order to understand the main thrust of his argument, we must, of necessity, understand just how it is that sin is imputed to man, being dealt with in a federal and representational manner.
For Adam’s one act of sin he did, did not just effect himself, but all of his entire race; he was our head! He was the first of our kind and served as our head and representative before God, in a similar manner as Aaron would represent the people of Israel before God as high priest, not only that but also in the same way as Levi was represented before Melchizedek through Abraham his great-grandfather.
In every sense of the word, Adam’s one act of disobedience doomed our entire race, every single one of us! The evidence of our guilt is clear, in that death reigns. It reigned even from Adam until Moses, when there was no law, no directive from God, the law which came later could not possibly account for the death which laid waste to the many generations from Adam until Moses. No, the only command which was given was given to Adam, who had willingly and purposefully violated that command.
This answer the question we may have of how the actions of one man might effect so many, the answer is clear in that it has indeed happened already, one man’s one act has already effected us in a profound and damning manner.

Grace Greater than Sin (5:15-17)

So now that we truly, fully understand the true nature of sin, that on account of the one act of sin by Adam, we all sinned; sin had not been in the world but through that one act of Adam, sin entered the world, Paul now of necessity digresses a second time in Romans 5:15-17
Romans 5:15–17 (LSB)
But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression 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, abound to the many.
And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the gracious gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
For it is not sufficient for us to solely understand the similarities between the transgression and the gift; though the similarities are vitally important, the contrasts and differences between the transgression and the gift are also vitally important to our understanding! For this is great analogy is not an analogy of equals, but of opposites, and if you fail to understand that it is certainly likely that we would take this analogy too far, so he introduces these great limits on it, emphasizing again and again that “the gracious gift is not like the transgression!”
For the gracious gift is of faith, the faith according to that of Abraham, who “believed God, and was counted to him as righteousness.” I digress myself a bit, but I assure you for good reason, turn back to Chapter 4:
Romans 4:3–5 (LSB)
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Now to the one who works, his wage is not counted according to grace, but according to what is due.
But to the one who does not work, but believes upon Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
So it is solely on account of faith that a person may be justified before God, not works – never works! Turn back now to Chapter 5:
Romans 5:1–2 (LSB)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
You see, my friends, this grace in which we stand is what we are speaking of now in verses 12–21, it is this gracious gift which we receive on account of our introduction by faith into grace!
It is not that we are born into it unconsciously and do it without thought, oh no! That was characteristic of being in Adam. But now in Christ, through consciously turning to God in faith, is far different than being in Adam, for though the one act of sin of the one man Adam, and its effect upon all men was profound, the one righteous act of the one man Jesus Christ, and its effect upon all who receive Him in faith, is even more profound!
Indeed, to be saved is the most profound thing which can ever happen to a person – even dying is not so profound as being “rescued from the authority of darkness, and [being] transferred to the kingdom of the Son of [God’s] love”! For death itself is merely the carrying out of our condemnation in Adam!

As we were in Adam, So now we are in Christ!

And now, having concluded both digressions, Paul has at long last brought us to the point where we are now capable of comprehending his real point. This bringing of us to understanding, was the whole point of these digressions, the Holy Spirit didn’t just meander through these last 134 words aimlessly, nor were they meaningless repetition – it’s that without them we would be completely incapable and unequipped to cut straight and rightly handle the statements to which we have now arrived, the central argument of these nine verses, marking this shift back to the main argument off for us, and calling our attention to the fact that he is doing so, by saying “so then”, or as some translations use, “therefore”.
Romans 5:18–19 (LSB)
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.
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous.
This is the case in full; this is the point; the analogy can now be understood correctly! And this really should be no surprise to each of us by now, for all through this section Paul has presenting us one side, and then the other, at each step he has first spoken of the one act of transgression, followed by the one act of righteousness (although that may not be made clear in some translations, that has indeed been the order), but one, then the other.
We should now be clear that it was indeed through one transgression, the one act of Adam, even what we in our pride and arrogance would consider most minor, so slight a thing as eating what he was told to “not eat”, that one act of rebellion against God’s supreme authority condemned our whole race.
That death was the result of God’s legal declaration regarding Adam’s one act of sin, the willful disobedience against the command of God. And, as Adam was our head and representative before God, his sin caused the condemnation of all of us; the transgression resulted in our condemnation.
But thanks be to God that there is this phrase, “even so”! Because here it is clear, that in the same manner that we have been condemned in Adam, meaning that we have been dealt with in a federal and representational manner, the act of one man causing our condemnation, even so does the one act of righteousness, in the same federal and representational manner, results in justification!
You must realize now, that Paul’s point is not really to teach us about Adam’s sin and its condemnation unto death - it certainly does so, but the reason and purpose is found here in the even so, for by understanding that, we may now understand the imputation of Jesus’ act of righteousness, and its justification unto life!
Just what was that one act of righteous obedience? Didn’t Jesus not just do one thing right, but all things right? Paul’s letter to the Philippians helps put this in the best perspective for us, I think!
Philippians 2:8 (LSB)
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
This is what Paul was referring to – Jesus’ act of selfless obedience to His Father, such obedience that He was even willing to suffer and die at the hands of Roman soldiers upon a cross. He had asked His Father, you remember, if it was possible that there be any other way, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And the Father did not let the cup pass Him by,
Romans 3:25 (LSB)
whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith, for a demonstration of His righteousness...
So, then, Jesus obeyed His Holy Father, and died as the sacrifice of propitiation, giving His precious blood that we might be saved through belief in Him! So then we read in v18,
Romans 5:18 (LSB)
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.
Recall if you will, the “all” who are justified here are limited, it is not talking about “all men everywhere at all times”, no! That would be to contradict everything Paul has said up until this point, it’s monstrous to say such a thing! Rather, the apostle is talking about those who in v17 “received”; as he said in v1, those who have been justified by faith. This is why we took the time to review just this very thing moments ago.
It is this truth that is monumental, such that the apostle Paul took so much time to ensure we can comprehend it – so much so, in fact, that by the time we arrive here, we realize he’s told us this one thing many times already, it is clear and unambiguous – we are guilty due the imputation of Adam’s sin, therefore we are justified unto life due to the imputation of Jesus Christ’s righteousness.
This is no concoction of a monk named Luther with a guilty conscience, this is historical, Biblical Christianity!
As Adam’s transgression and its resulting condemnation was imputed to all who are in Adam, even so Jesus’ righteousness and its resulting justification is imputed to all who are in Christ Jesus!
But we must not stop with this here, the Holy Spirit says that this condemnation and justification is not all that has been done! Read the next verse!
Romans 5:19 (LSB)
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous.
He continues on, v18 was in essence something of a restatement of what he has already said, but now he comes to v19 with an entirely difference essence, in which he goes further than ever before, growing and expanding our understanding with yet a new leap of doctrine, a new revelation from God!

In Adam, Made a Sinner

This day, the 11th of September, we here in the United States remember a tragedy which struck our nation, a tragedy in which evil men did evil things. Why? A prior generation solemnly remembered December 7th. Why? Before that, the Armistice. Before that, the Alamo. Our secular history abounds with examples of sinful people doing sinful things in sinful ways.
Why do people sin? Do they just following the path of their forefathers? Did they do this thing because they were made sinful by God, having a nature which predisposed them to sin in such a way that they inevitably chose to sin and then incur condemnation and death?
Obviously not! This is the very thing that we’ve spent a great deal of time discussing, that we are condemned by the sin of Adam
But why then do we sin? Why is it that Paul writes in Romans 3:10-18...
“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
If we are condemned because of Adam’s sin, why do I sin?
Because “through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners.” It’s also often translated that the many were made sinners. And although accurate, the actual meaning has far more force than these words would suggest!
This word, καθίστημι, is used in the sense of setting a person down, appointing and assigning them to a particular rank or position. This is the word Stephen used of Pharaoh when describing his appointing of Joseph as ruler over Egypt in Acts 7, it is the idea of assigning a particular position to a person, but much more than that it also includes giving them the properties and capabilities to carry out that position.
In other words, this is not merely a legal or forensic pronouncement! It also includes causing the thing itself to happen!
When you see, then, Paul write that “through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, that we were made and constituted to be sinners - every single person begins in Adam by virtue of our parents, every person therefore is from the moment they are conceived, a sinner.
Note that we are made sinners, not sinful. God is not referring to making and appointing us as sinful, as an adjective being used to describe the possibility and likelihood that we might sin, and then most likely did sin causing our condemnation and punishment. This isn’t it at all!
Rather, we are appointed – made and constituted as – sinners, using the word as a noun, that is the whole nature of our being. It tells us we have already sinned, and will continue to have that sin characterize our lives. It is on account of this that Paul declared in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” because we are sinners.
And sinners sin. It is inevitable, because that is where the heart is of everyone who is in Adam – everyone in Adam is made a sinner, no exceptions! And that sin will ooze out of their lives, from every pore and every thought, though science has found no “sin” gene, no “sin” molecule, it is nonetheless pervasively there. In Adam, it is there universally, in each and every single individual; even those we look at and say “look, this must be a good person!”, when we realize the bar which God Himself set, that bar where we wouldn’t go, where we say “it’s just a small thing, it’s just a snack, just a piece of fruit!” God still cannot accept even the slightest disobedience to His holy requirement!
So what hope do we have? We have the hope and assurance of “even so”!

In Christ, Made Righteous

Because the point Paul has been working towards, the purpose of this new revelation he is now making, is here in the last half of the verse:
even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous.
What glory! What amazing truth! What blessed assurance!
For in the same way that those in Adam are appointed sinners, those who are now in Christ are appointed righteous!
In the same way that the actions and thoughts and deeds of a sinner are inherently characterized by sin, now the actions and thoughts and deeds of the righteous person are characterized by righteousness!
This righteousness, too, is not merely a legal and forensic determination, for when I am saved through faith in Jesus Christ alone, I am made to be righteous, in spite of all that I know is true about myself! The word has the same force and meaning on both sides of the argument – now in Christ, I am appointed – constituted and made, being set down in the position and righteousness, and caused to be made righteous!
Why? Because just as I was constituted a sinner while I was in Adam on account of Adam’s act of sin, when I came to be in Christ through faith in Him, I am constituted righteous on account of Jesus Christ’s act of obedience!
To draw it out, and to ensure that we understand, my righteousness has nothing to do with my own actions, my own deeds! Remember when Paul wrote “there is none righteous, not even one”? He was writing that to believers regarding their former life in Adam, before they came to saving faith in Christ Jesus! I didn’t have righteousness –no, even more, I couldn’t have righteousness – the moment before I believed in Christ, I am righteous the moment I do have saving faith in Jesus Christ! Why? Because just as in Adam I was a sinner, even so now that I am in Christ I am righteous!
This one principle is repeated over and over again throughout these verses, so that we would understand this very point – that salvation, in whole and in its parts, comes from God: in the act of obedience, in the legal determination and judgement of justification, in the appointment and constitution of righteousness – it is all, it is entirely and only the result of the obedience of Jesus Christ!
We are not only forgiven (which we are), we are not only justified (which we are), but when we change from being in Adam to being in Christ, we are made to be actually righteous, not a theoretical or merely forensic righteousness.
Our very nature has been replaced, we have been unalterably transformed into something entirely new. Just as God formerly constituted me a sinner due to my being in Adam, even so, God now not only regards me as righteous, but He has made me to be righteous, He cannot lie, He cannot call a thing other than it is, so for Him to call us righteous, we must indeed be righteous!
That I may sin tomorrow, does not negate that God has made me righteous, with a righteousness not my own. The sin I now do does not change this standing before God, for instead of dealing with me as a sinner, He deals with me no longer as a criminal, but as a child. For nothing is “able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What an amazing, assuring truth!
Let us pray!
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