As was discussed last week, our society desires to identify itself by so many lesser things, but in Scripture we see something greater. Last week we saw that we are image bearers of God and so have eternal value. This week we will see that we are either in Adam or in Christ.

There are two groups of people living in the world today. There are those people who are identified with the world and its evil system of government and those who are identified with the Righteous government of God. There are those who identify with sin and death and those who identify with life. There are those who are identified as in Adam and those who are identified as in Christ. We have softened the blow of this upon our hearers in an attempt to be more likable but in so doing we acted as if there was no difference between us and everyone else. As A.W. Tozer said,

“What we need to restore power to the Christian testimony is not soft talk about brotherhood but an honest recognition that two human races occupy the Earth simultaneously: a fallen race that sprang from the loins of Adam and a regenerate race that is born of the Spirit through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

A.W. Tozer, “Man: The Dwelling Place of God”, Christian Publications, 1966, p. 21

Last week’s message applied to all people generally, this one applies to all people in a different way. In this humanity is not all the same. There are two groups of people. You are either in Adam or you are in Christ.

Who are you? Are you in Adam or in Christ?

Adam has made all of mankind sinful and Christ makes His people righteous.

Read Romans 5:12-21

Adam Made Me Do It—In Adam Sin Is Imputed And We Act Upon It (Vv. 12-14 & negatively Vv. 15-19)

As a kid, and then sometimes as a teenager, I would assign the blame for things I’d done wrong to other people. My brother was often the target of this ploy and I think this is something that anyone with siblings has at least attempted. One day my brother and I had been throwing a ball in the house while Mom and Dad were gone. The ball hit the lamp and broke the lampshade. Together my brother and I turned the shade in such a way that this would not be very noticeable. About a week later my parents noticed the damage. Both of us blamed the other and rightfully both of us got into trouble.

Romans 5 is a continuation of Paul’s discussion concerning salvation by grace alone through faith alone. The passage itself is a discussion about our inability to earn salvation ourselves, but how does Paul argue it?

Sin entered the world and with the ushering in of sin came death and this spread to everyone. But why did it spread to everyone? Because all people sinned. How is it that Paul says that this first sin entered the world? It entered the world through the sin of one man, Adam.

Whose fault is it that you sin? Well, Adam. Do you now sin and rebel against God? Yes.

We Sin Because We Are Sinners

We take it as a given that everyone sins. We call it by different names, but the meaning is the same. Most people today say, “We all make mistakes.” Some have said it in the past by saying “to err is human”. But the meaning is the same. People throughout history understand that human beings sin, but why?

Here Paul explains the answer. The answer is all people sin because they are born sinners. Why are all people born sinners? Because Adam sinned. Notice the train of thought here. Adam sinned and at this point sin is enters the world and through sin death also enters the world bringing death to all people because all people sin.

Why is it that you sin? You sin because Adam sinned. You sin because his act made you a sinner. You sin because you are a sinner.

We All Participated In Adam’s Sin

Paul defends this by discussing the Law and its relationship to sin. If, sin is rebellion against Law or the breaking of His command why did people continue to die between the time of Adam and Moses? God gave a command to Adam then He gave a lot of them to Moses, but what about the people in between?

There was no law for people to break. And besides that infants, who had no law to break died. Other people who had never heard of God and who had never heard of Adam died. Why did all of these people die? Paul’s answer is that Adam was a type or prefiguring of Jesus, who was to come. When Adam sinned in the garden he was representing all of us.

Photo taken from

I grew up in Harrison, Arkansas. Near Harrison there is a river called Buffalo National River. It is known as one of the few remaining unpolluted, free flowing rivers in the United States. I have fished and floated on the Buffalo River a good number of times. There were some nice places to go swim as well. I am convinced that some of the most beautiful places in America are along the Buffalo National River. A few years back there was a big discussion about a hog farm that was situated in the Upper Buffalo. There was great fear that the waste from the farm and other chemicals and things used in the farm would drain into the Buffalo River. Why was this an issue? Because everything beyond the pig farm would be contaminated.

You and I live after Adam. Though Adam and Eve were created without sin you and I were not. Adam sinned and everyone after Adam is contaminated and guilty. We are born in the likeness of Adam with his sin, shame, and death.

Adam sinned, making us all sinners who are actually guilty before God.
So, what does this mean for you?

We are all born guilty. We are all born sinners. We rebel against God because we are a rebel. This disease has been passed down from generation to generation and we all have it. We are born guilty and we are born desiring to sin.

Interestingly, G.K. Chesterton said that this doctrine was the one that was most easily provable in all the Scriptures. I don’t think the world has an answer for why everyone sins and understands that they are sinning. We know that we are sinning, we may call it a mistake but we know we have done something that we ought not to have done. Adam plunged the entirety of humanity into sin and we all feel it.

Why do you rebel against the authorities in your life? The answer is quite simple really. Adam sinned and plunged the entire human race into sin and made you a sinner. The short answer is that you rebel against the authorities in your life because you are a sinner.

Why are you mean and fight with other people? You sin because you are a sinner.

Why do you lie? You sin because you are a sinner.

Why do you break God’s Law? You sin because you are a sinner.

We are all born “in Adam”, as people who have no hope. We are born sinners with actual guilt hanging over our head. Adam sinned on our behalf making us sinful sinners.

Jesus Did It For Me-Salvation Through The Finished Work of Christ (Vv. 15-19)

Paul does something interesting here. This is the second half of a sentence that he started a long time ago. If you’ll look up at Romans 5:12 then you’ll notice that Paul never finished his thought. In Romans 5:13-14 there is a discussion about the first half of his thought. The second half of his thought doesn’t even get expressed until here in Romans 5:15. Here is the thought put together.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man,…But the free gift is not like the trespass.” (Romans 5:12…15 ESV)

This entire text is an extended comparison of the sin and death that Adam brought when he sinned with the life that Christ gives through His finished work for our salvation. It is juxtaposing the two actions and their results for us to see the great and glorious grace of Christ’s salvation.

The comparison is remarkable from verse 15 onward.

  • V. 15: Adam sinned and brought death to many—Christ lived perfectly and died on the behalf of sinners so that many received the grace of God.
  • V. 16: Adam sinned and judgment came bringing condemnation (God declares us to be guilty.)—Christ gives to us the free gift wiping out the many transgressions that resulted in Adam’s sinned and gave us justification (God declares us to be righteous.)
  • V. 17: Adam sinned and death reigned—Christ gives an abundance of grace, giving the gift of righteousness and eternal life in Him.
  • V. 18: One act of sin resulted in everyone’s condemnation (being declared guilty by God)—one act of righteousness resulted in justification (being declared righteous by God).
  • V. 19: One man’s disobedience made many people sinners—through the obedience of Christ many are made righteous.

Adam sinned and plunged the entire world into a desperate situation. The result is that we are sinners who die and stand condemned before God. The gift that Christ brings in an abundant way covers over this horrible result. Christ comes and brings with Him righteousness. One man sinned, but Jesus covers over the sins of many. Adam brought sin and death, Jesus brings righteousness and life. Adam brought condemnation upon all men, Jesus brings justification.

What glorious news! Sinners can be made righteous. Those bound for Hell can be brought to Eternity with Jesus.

There is here a fountain of grace for you. It is grace enough, an abundance, to cover your sin and shame. Adam made everyone a sinner and Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are enough to cleanse the worst of sinners. Christ is the cure for the horror of Adam’s sin that has run rampant in your life.

In Adam all die, all are sinners. But God has given us a way of salvation. We can be taken out of the “In Adam” category and made a part of the “In Christ” category by trusting in Him. Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross paying the punishment for your sin and rose from the dead three days later. Instead of standing before God as condemned you can stand before God as righteous. Instead of hearing the gavel fall and hear God say “guilty”, you can hear Him say “righteous” instead. Trust in Christ.

A few days ago our neighbors put a dresser outside for people to take. We have gotten rid of a few things this way and people generally take the stuff pretty quickly. But something odd happened with this dresser, someone took the drawers and left the dresser. Out of the mass that is the dresser someone took the drawers. The drawers were saved and the dresser is going to the trash heap. Out of the mass of humanity destined for Hell, some are rescued and found to be in Christ. Trust in Him. He will save you out of the mass of humanity.

If you are “in Christ” then understand that your entire hope is in Him. Also understand that the entire hope of other people is in Him. There are two types of people in this world, those who are in Christ and those who are in Adam. We long for people to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and so we deliver the news of His glorious salvation. You are surrounded by people who don’t know Jesus and the salvation that He brings. Deliver that message. Invite friends to church to hear that message.  

The Reign of Abundant Grace (Vv. 20-21)

Paul moves back to a previous discussion: the Law. People sinned and died before the Law came, given by Moses at Mt. Sinai. What happened after the Law came? Sin did not decrease. It increased.

There are two things meant by this statement. One the Law came to reveal sin to us, which is the purpose of God’s Law. This is discussed two chapters later in Romans 7. The Law reveals sin to us and causes us to flee to Christ. Now people knew they were sinning. But sin also increased in another, more sinister way. It increased in defiance of God. So, as people see and understand God’s Law they defy God and sin anyway.

In the face of such awful rebellion, what does God do? He has every right to crush all of humanity in punishment for their rebellion. But what does God do? Paul says,

“but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 5:20b-21 ESV

Sin reigns. We see it all around us. Rebellion, sickness, and death reveal the fact that sin reigns. How do I know that sin reigns? Because people die all the time. But “grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life”.

Sin reigns and brings death, both physical and eternal. But Christ has defeated death, He has conquered the powers of Hell, and His salvation is greater than the condemnation and so He brings eternal life to all who are found in Him. Who are those who are found in Him? Those who have trusted in Jesus Christ. This great and glorious salvation is brought “through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Do you feel that you have so sinned against God that you cannot possibly be brought into His Kingdom and saved from His wrath and justice? God’s grace is bigger than your sin and Adam’s sin. Though sin reigns, and we see that evidenced, Christ reigns over it. His grace is more abundant than the sin of the worst of sinners. He brings abundant grace to anyone and everyone who will trust in Him. All who believe receive this abundant grace, they receive justification, and they receive righteousness.

We are sinners who actively rebel against God. We deserve His wrath and justice. This is the status of every person, we are born in Adam. When we trust in Christ we are in Christ. Those who are in Christ are saved from the punishment for sin. We are plucked out of the damnable mass of humanity and declared righteous.

I read in the book “The Valley of Vision”, which is a collection of Puritan Prayers and devotions. In it this is summed up quite well. I think it is the attitude found in the heart of every believer who truly understands what they have been saved from.

“O Lord, I am astonished at the difference between my receivings and my deservings, between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness, between the heaven I am bound for and the Hell I merit….Let wrath deserved be written on the door of Hell, but the free gift of grace on the gate of Heaven. I know that my sufferings are the result of my sinning, but in Heaven both shall cease.”

The Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth Trust

Are you in Christ? Have you been plucked out of the mass of humanity that is in Adam? Have you trusted in Christ?

R. Dwain Minor