February 28, 2021
Reading of God’s Word: Romans 5:1-21
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:1-21
Living Life In The Balance
You have probably heard a child say these words "He started it" or “She started it” and perhaps it came from the backseat of the car or from a distant room. Children become more sophisticated as they grow up, but the pushing and blaming continue. Blaming one another is a human trait; that's why it's recorded in the Bible's story of the first humans. After Adam eats the fruit his wife gives him and their “eyes are opened” he blames God reminding God that Eve wouldn't be around if He hadn't given her to him. God then confronts Eve and she blames the crafty serpent! The rest is history! We often lay the blame on someone else when we fail. It is a natural response to ward off responsibility for a wayward act. Placing blame seems to clear ourselves of wrongdoing. It gives us a way to escape! One topic that is woven throughout the Bible from beginning to end is the problem of “falling short of the glory of God”. This was not God’s plan for humans. We first encounter Adam and Eve walking with God in the garden. There it is a peaceful picture. Had God not given Adam a choice of whether to eat of the tree of Good and Evil, he and the rest of us would be mere robots programmed to respond in a certain way. There had to be a free will choice to follow God’s commands and thus maintain a relationship with Him. Relationships have to be free to walk away; we cannot make someone love us, even God cannot do this. If He did, we would be programmed to respond to God’s love much like a computer responds to its software.
There are many in the world who would disagree with the church’s position that there is a problem with sin in the world. A humanist worldview is one that states that I can do anything that I want to so as long as it doesn’t physically hurt someone else. Of course that falls far short of what we see in the Biblical view of sin. In fact in today’s view, and this found also in some churches, calling or suggesting a person is a “sinner” should not be done. After all, no one wants to have their spirit broken by telling them the truth. So we just mask over it and hope for the best outcome. But the Bible doesn’t gloss over this human trait! And I know that it is not comfortable for us to admit that we are “sinners” but God said we are because we have a broken relationship with Him. That is why, during this Lenten season, we must recognize what separates us from God and what it took for God to redeem us. Here in Romans 5, Paul explains two Biblical views: The one is how sin entered this world and the other how God redeems us from that sin. Picturing all of humanity in Adam shows the snowballing effect of sin in the world. As one person sins, it gains momentum into another person's life. That negative influence spreads and becomes more dangerous and more deeply ingrained in people. Sin slithers from one person to the next. It is contagious much like the COVID flue pandemic. It has an incredible ability to infect person after person and to replicate itself in worse and worse ways as we have seen. The results are to suffer the consequences from it. Sin infects society and individuals by creeping up into minds and it gnaws its way into souls. Unrestrained sin demolishes more and more of a person's character and a society's strength.
An illustration of this is found in a book written by Stephen Arrington. He wrote about his life in the book, “Journey into Darkness: Nowhere to Land.” In the Navy, as a scuba diver, he went from smoking marijuana to selling it, resulting in a “Bad Conduct discharge”. His life spiraled downward into the criminal underworld until he was finally codefendant in the drug case with the automaker, John DeLorean. Steve Arrington just stumbled along into crime, finally smuggling cocaine from South America. He'd take a step, that at the time seemed small, and then the next was a little larger. People pressured him to stop of course, at each step, but sin operated in each decision he made and at each moral intersection where he turned the wrong way. You can call it sin, call it call it brokenness, or just the drifting away from life's original purpose. But it's here, around us and within us, and we can only look to God to fix it. The psychologist and philosopher, William James, wrote his famous book, “The Varieties of Religious Experience” at the turn of the last century. It was enormously influential because it pointed out not just that people have religious experiences, but that people with problems who turn to the spiritual realm often feel as though they've been helped. Imagine that! There must be something to “inviting” God into our lives! It stands to reason, our Bible specifically states that something's wrong with humans that needs to be fixed. Something's broken that has to be put back together and the only way is through our Lord’s help! “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Verses:1-2)
Last week we looked at the person of Abraham and we saw that he stepped out in faith believing in the promise that God, through him and Sarah, would bear a son even though they were of old age. Paul tells us that “it was credited to him as righteousness”. Paul makes that same connection to us as believers that we have been “justified through faith”. That brings us peace with God because He has forgiven us of all our sins! What has been broken because of sin, God now repairs so that we will have once again the peace of having a corrected relationship with Him by knowing our Lord and Savior! He follows this up with the words: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Verse 6) When did this happen? “At the right time when we were still powerless”. Have certain repeated acts of sin such as pride, wrath, greed, envy, or lust had its way with you repeatedly? Have you felt powerless to break the cycle? This is where God acts in our life through the power of the Holy Spirit reminding us that we are forgiven but at the same time empowering us to change our sinful habits. Anyone ever struggled with gossip? A juicy story that tickles your ears? Sometimes we can’t wait to tell someone else about what we heard. It is of course a sin to tell it to someone else because it tears down and belittles someone behind their back. James tells us that a great forest fire is set ablaze by a tiny spark! So what hope do we have in overcoming the tendency to sin? “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Verses 7-8) “While we were still sinners”: don’t miss that point! It was also our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross!
In the midst of living life in the balance between righteousness and sinfulness, God demonstrates His love for us. Before receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life, we were still enemies of God. Sinfulness demands God’s wrath because of His holiness and purity. We are impure until we make that decision to receive the reconciliation that God offers us. As soon as we do we are no longer objects of God’s wrath but rather Jesus’ righteousness covers our sinful nature. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Verses 9-11) We have been purchased at a great price! We have received reconciliation! Sin is strong enough that we might lose some battles, but it is not strong enough that we will lose the war!!
Jesus is the opposite pattern of Adam. One of them ruined life: the other One restores it. Jesus' death and resurrection reverses the process Adam began. Through Jesus we get new spiritual DNA! We have an altered heredity now, through Jesus, we're born into a new family the family of God. We exist in a very different environment now as part of the Kingdom of God. All this happens not just once, but continuously, right now, in our Christian life. God's grace is always stronger than sin! “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Verses 20-21) Sin is strong but it is forever doomed in the Christian’s life! God's grace will be victorious in our lives and over all of human history. God's grace is much more than we ever deserve! The least we can expect in our life walking in harmony with God is that he has so much more for us! The grace He gives defeats sins devastating hold on us. We live our life in the balance between what would have been our demise and clearly what will be eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord!!
To God be the glory, forever and ever. AMEN!! Pastor Bill