February 11th, 2013

(This will be my final devotional on Romans until after Easter.  We’ll be taking a break at Corinth from studying Romans for the Lenten season.  I will post our preaching series on Mark at the end of this message.)

I needed a little closure for our first section of Romans.  Yesterday’s sermon covered Romans 5:1-11, but Paul’s argument continues in the last half of the chapter.  Beginning with chapter 6, he will be giving us the implications of the Gospel for daily life.  For now, he has one more way of explaining the Gospel itself – a comparison between Adam and Jesus Christ.

Americans are not particularly fond of the theological principle in Romans 5:12-21 If you were born in Africa, Asia, or South America, you would not be as likely to have any resistance at all to the idea of human solidarity presented here.  But Americans are individualists.   We believe in personal guilt, personal responsibility, and personal opportunity.  It is a generalization, but nevertheless true, that we take individual pride in our own achievements and lay blame on those who cannot pull themselves up.  Even in the church, we talk about a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

I don’t want to argue that the Gospel is impersonal, or that personal response and relationship are not critical.  But the extent to which we take this individualism is more American than biblical. Romans 5:12-21 is one clear Scripture on our solidarity.

Paul says that we are sinners because of our connection to Adam.  Sin “entered the world through one man” (12), and “the many died by the trespass of the one” (15).  Further, “the result of that one trespass was condemnation for all men” (18) and “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners” (19).

“No!”  We object.  How can we be declared sinners just by our identification with Adam?

I find it interesting that we don’t make the same objection about our identification with Christ!  We’re much happier with the BENEFIT that comes through solidarity with Jesus.  “The result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (18).  For Paul, the two ideas are necessarily connected.  If we get the connection with Adam’s one act of rebellion, we are ready for the “how much more” of the good news – that God justifies us through the one ultimate act of obedience.

It’s all about humility, isn’t it?  The humility of identifying with Adam’s sin sets us up for being humbled by Jesus’ death that covers all our sins.

“Where sin increased, grace increased all the more,” Paul says in verse 20, goading his reader in to the question that will open chapter 6, “Shall we sin more so that God can forgive us more?”  For that question, we’ll have to wait until after Easter.

For now, let’s spend the next few weeks pondering Jesus’ earthly life.


Ash Wednesday Mark 1:21-28


First Sunday of Lent Mark 2:18-22


Mark 3:23-30


Mark 7:1-23


Mark 10:17-31


Mark 12:18-27


Palm/Passion Sunday Mark 13:32-42


Easter Sunday Mark 16:1-8


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