By GREG BREAZEALE
Special to South Florida Times
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
Adam brought sin into the world through his disobedience (Romans 5:12, 19). The result is that “many were made sinners” (v.19). When Adam fell, the entire human race fell with him. His guilt and condemnation spread to everyone.
Paul wrote earlier in Romans 3, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one . . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
But Jesus Christ perfectly obeyed God. Through His “one act of righteousness,” and through His “obedience” many will be made righteous. Scholars disagree if Paul had in mind Christ’s entire life of obedience, or specifically His obedience to die on the cross (Phil. 2:8). While the evidence seems to lean more toward the obedience of the cross, we must keep in mind His sinless life was necessary for Him to be the perfect lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29). Jesus is the True Adam. He never had lust in His eyes or greed in His heart. He was tempted in every way, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).
Application: Meditate on the sinless life of Jesus. See him obeying in your place. Let that encourage you to walk in holiness and integrity.
Adam brought condemnation, Christ brought justification
The result of Adam’s disobedience was condemnation (v.16). All people stand condemned before God (v.18). We all deserve eternal separation from God. God had every reason to leave us in our sins. Nothing obligated God to move toward us in mercy and grace. Yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). God delivered up His Son in our place to make us righteous and bring justification to all who believe.
This is why Paul wrote, “grace abounded all the more.” Through grace poured out in Christ, sinners can be made righteous and declared just before God. This is the heart of the gospel. Nothing in the world works this way. In every system, whether it be education, sports, economics, business, or the military, one must perform before receiving the verdict. You must complete the mission, take the test, win the game, pay the debt, or complete the task before a verdict is declared. With the gospel, the verdict comes first. God declares us righteous because of the work of Christ, then we do good deeds in accordance with God’s will. We must never reverse this. We must never believe or teach God accepts us based on how we perform. Christ performed in our place through His life, death, and resurrection.
Application: Do you believe God accepts you because of what you do, or because of what Christ did? Will you rest in Christ’s work and let it transform how you obey God?
Adam brought death, Christ brought life
Paul references death six times in these verses. Adam’s sin caused death to come into the world and spread to all people. But where sin reigned through death, grace reigned through the righteousness brought about by Jesus. Where Adam brought death, Jesus Christ brought eternal life to all who embrace the free gift of salvation. Through death, Christ defeated death.
Novelist C. S. Lewis captured this truth well with the death and resurrection of his character, Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The great lion says to Lucy and Susan after returning to life, “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.” Jesus Christ triumphed over the grave. He died and is now alive forever more, holding the keys to death and Hades (Rev. 1:18). Those who trust in Him need not fear death.
Jesus is the true and greater Adam. He is the only answer to sin, condemnation, and death. No other religious system or worldview can answer these problems. Mark Dever said, “All religions lead to God . . . straight to His judgment seat. Only one gives you a Savior” (Mark Dever, sermon: “Jesus Paid Taxes”). Jesus Christ is abounding in the grace the world thirsts, the grace all its people need to receive.
Greg Breazeale is pastor of Metro East Baptist Church, Wichita, Kansas.