Unable to Stop (Romans 5:12-14)
January 15, 2015, 12:22 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

“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: (for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 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.”
Growing up, I discovered that I had a problem that I couldn’t overcome. I mumbled to get the last word. Whenever I got into trouble with my parents, they would first talk to me. It might just be my mom calling out my name. I can still hear “Eddie” and know I need to stop doing something. But if I didn’t stop, or if it were something more serious, my dad would give me “the talk”. He would take me into a room where it was just him and me. I would listen to him explain what I had done wrong, why it was wrong, and why I needed to change. It all made sense and if I had thanked my dad, promised I would do better, and then walk away when he was finished, “the talk” would have been the solution. But for some reason, I had to mumble something as I walked away. I had listened without opening my mouth and when asked questions, I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to discuss my perspective of the situation and what I suggested should be done. I knew to sit, pay attention, and keep my mouth closed. My dad would tell me to leave, and I would walk a few steps and then for some unexplained reason, feel the need to mumble a comment, barely audible but sadly loud enough for my dad to hear it. After once or twice doing this, I’m certain my dad listened for my mumbling the last word. Every time I mumbled, my dad would call me back, and trust me, my discipline was much worse. I knew the consequences of mumbling the last word, but somehow, I couldn’t control the urge to mumble one last thing. Mumbling ruled my life as a cruel tyrant, and constantly brought pain into my life. Never did I gain pleasure from my comments and never did my dad see the error of his rules because of my mumbling the last word. Mumbling the last word ruled my life.
Years passed and I had three precious children. I found that my first two children had the common sense not to mumble. Honestly, they complained about my rules and discipline, but usually it was out of my hearing and to each other. At times, we would have disagreements, but generally speaking, they let me have the last word. As children, they didn’t always understand why we had the rules and standards we did, but they weren’t controlled by the mumble king. Then my precious baby girl was born. For the first years of her life, she seemed perfect. She seldom got in trouble for her behavior. About the time she turned four, this precious, perfect little girl was taken over by the desire to have the last word. This wicked ruler manipulated her and I saw her yield to his control. Time after time her discipline grew more severe because she would walk away and mumble one last word. My other children would plead with her to remain silent, but she was under the control of the the fierce tyrant, “the last word dictator”. Today, that daughter has her own children. Sadly, one has been plagued by “the mumbling the last word disease”. Having the last word reigned and we each suffered because of it. But the real problem wasn’t mumbling the last word. That was the evidence of the real problem. My dad, me as a dad, and now my daughter as the mom each established a standard, “I will have the last word” that revealed a deeper problem in their child, THE SIN problem. No one taught me to mumble the last word and I didn’t teach my daughter to try to have the last word and she didn’t teach her daughter to do it. It has been passed down because of THE SIN. In Romans 5:12-21, we read about the sin that brought that which reigned, or was “king”. While the concept is seen throughout these verses, I want us to focus on verses 12 to 14 to see why why we’re slaves of an inner ruler and what true God reveals to us.
In our pursuit of truth, we will answer “what controls us?” But that is not the primary message of this passage. This passage is a part of a section that shows the actions of one man affected many. In this passage the focus is upon the action of Adam, with a reference to Jesus in verse 14. This passage will show that Adam, at the time the human race, committed an act which brought consequences on the entire human race from that point forward. The passage begins with the word, “wherefore”. That reminds us that the truth found in this passage is the result of what has been revealed before. In the context, we read that Jesus Christ died for us and His action was applied to all. “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Based on His death, the penalty on man’s sin was paid, allowing God to impute Christ’s righteousness to man so their Father-son relationship could be established. By one Man, Jesus, action, mankind was forever changed. In this passage, God answers the question of “how can the act of one man rescue all of mankind?”
God starts with a historical event that all Jews knew, and one that many today have been taught from childhood. God starts with the story of Adam and Eve, (although Eve is not mentioned). We find one man’s, Adam’s, single choice and action brought a consequence that affected all of mankind. In order to demonstrate that it is logical that a single act of Jesus Christ could impact all of mankind, God guides Paul to show how Adam’s single act impacted and still impacts all of humanity. In perspective, Jesus the Creator’s greatest creation was Adam. But Adam the creation is inferior to Jesus the Creator. So if the case can be made that the creation, Adam’s act impacted all of mankind, it is only logically that the Creator, Jesus’ act would much more impact all of mankind. The comparison of Adam to Jesus is limited to how one person’s act affects all others. In three verses, God shows us how Adam’s choice and action has altered the world negatively. When compared to the final verses of the chapter, we will see how Christ reverses the damage brought on by Adam and gives us much more.
In verses 12 to 14, we find four steps that show the impact of Adam’s decision upon mankind, placing us under the control of death. Notice 12 for the first point. Through one man, the sin nature entered the world. Please note that sin didn’t begin with Adam, it just entered the world through him. Prior to his act, sin was limited to Lucifer’s rebellion against God. Satan created sin. Adam was the agent who brought sin into the world and into man. Satan used Adam as a pawn in his attack on God. The Creator’s greatest angelic being manipulated the Creator’s greatest creation into making a choice that would introduce sin into that greatest creation. Notice the word, “sin” is singular. Adam didn’t bring sins into the world, he brought SIN. The corrupting SIN nature was passed from Adam to all of mankind. Adam was the representative of all mankind. Sin became a part of man’s corrupt “DNA” that is passed continually down from generation to generation. In the Jewish culture, man was viewed as a part. He was a part of a family, a tribe, a nation. In the Old Testament, we often see people being treated as groups. In Joshua, Achan’s sin brings consequences upon both the nation, which lost a battle with Ai and the death of some in the military, and his family, who were punished with death. Like Achan, Adam was acting as MAN-kind instead of acting as “a man”. His choice is mankind’s choice.
The second point is death entered the world through the sin nature. The corrupt nature of sin brought the penalty of sin, death, upon all men. Adam’s act brought death into all of mankind. No one is excluded from death. We have to understand that death takes three forms, physical death, spiritual death, and the second death. Man is actually born dead spiritually. That’s why we have to have the new birth. Physical death is just the evidence that all men have a sin nature. God’s creation of Adam was not of a man who would die. Death came into mankind as a consequence of sin. Connected to this is the second death, eternal separation from God in the place of torment, hell. But if man wasn’t made to die, then hell was never made for us. It was made for Satan and those angels who followed him. Satan’s manipulation of Adam which brought sin in to mankind, also brought man to the consequence of Satan’s punishment. So if a person asks “why does God send people to hell?” just reply that Adam, because he followed Satan’s temptation, brought the consequence of hell into mankind. To speculate what would have happened if Adam had never sinned is pointless because he did. But consider what happened to the one Man who never sinned? He ascended into heaven. Because of Adam’s choice and act, we all inherit SIN and its penalty, death. That’s why young children and the old die. Death comes because we have the SIN nature and suffer its penalty. Because of the SIN nature, we are sinners. We sin because we are sinners. Sinning is the evidence that we have the SIN nature. We have as our root the inner nature of THE SIN and therefore we demonstrate the fruit of that nature.
The third point is that death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam. This seems like such a simple truth, but it is a little more complicated than that. All have sinned is an aorist tense, which means that at one point in time past all have sinned. When in time past did I sin? In Adam, I sinned. He was the human race and I sinned in him. In him, all have already sinned. Therefore, all can be fairly punished with death because we have already sinned in Adam. My favorite verse is “I am crucified with Christ”. When did I do that? When He was crucified, God placed me in Him. I love that, but I have to realize that in Adam, I sinned. Judicially, just like God views me dying in Christ’s crucifixion, He also views me sinning in Adam.
The fourth point is that death occurs because of the sin nature and not because we have broken the law of God. From the time of Adam to the time of Moses, the Lawgiver, people died. Unlike Adam, who had a specific commandment given to him by God, those after him had no specific laws that they violated. They had the moral law of God written in their hearts but didn’t have the 10 specific commandments until Moses. They died because they were contaminated sinners because they carried out the actions of their SIN nature. They were are war with God and turned from Him and His holiness to live out the consequences that our SIN nature brought. The story of Cain, the wickedness in the world before the Flood, the building of the Tower of Babel and the violence and deception of the patriarchs show the depths to which man would sink because he possessed a perverse and wicked SIN nature that was and is the antithesis of everything God was and is. Before the written law was given, death proved man had the SIN nature. After the written law was given, breaking the law proved that man possessed the SIN nature. Death during the time from Adam to Moses indicates that death is not the result of sins, or breaking a commandment but it is the result of the sin nature.
Man is condemned because he is a sinner, at war with God, and dead spiritually. In steps Jesus. Jesus assumes the responsibility to undo Adam’s damage. He pays the price for sins and defeats the sin nature. He conquers death and makes alive spiritually those who had been dead because of the sin nature. Jesus changes everything for all.

the last word

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