************ Sermon on Romans 5:12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 1, 2011
"What Adam Gives Us"
So far in our study of Genesis we have seen the creation of heaven and earth and everything in them. We learned that God pronounced it all to be very good. We also learned that God created man and woman in His image and they, too, were created good. But then came the Fall into sin. We looked at the resulting judgment of God upon the serpent and Satan, the judgment upon the woman, and the judgment upon the man. We watched as Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and its intimate fellowship with God. The last time we looked at Genesis, we saw the murder of Abel by Cain. In other words, sin was no longer confined to Adam and Eve; it was now in the next generation.
Scripture makes clear there is more to the Fall into sin then what we have seen so far in Genesis. So, I want to spend some time focusing on the results of the Fall as recorded for us in Paul's letter to the church at Rome. On this Preparatory Sunday I want to focus on how Adam's Fall into sin affects you and me. And, the next time I want to focus on how Adam's Fall into sin affects the creation itself.
I want to begin by identifying four key words or phrases in our Scripture reading. First, note the repetition of the little word "one." It is used eleven times. The key idea is that one man makes a difference. The second word is "gift" – or another translation is "grace." It is used seven times. Paul tells us that ours is a free gift. The third word is "reign." It is used five times. Paul saw two men – Adam and Christ; each of them is reigning over a kingdom. Finally, note the phrase "much more." It is used four times in all of Romans 5.
Paul uses these four words of phrases to contrast Adam with Christ. It is true that each of these words or phrases speaks especially of Christ but I want to use them this morning to look at Adam and our fall into sin.
A This past Tuesday at Rotary we had an absolutely fascinating program. We heard a story of courage born of faith. A story about the Dutch resistance movement in the Netherlands during World War II. A story of one man and his family and how they hid Jews from the Nazis. We learned how one man through one act can make a difference, a big difference, in the lives of others.
Our Scripture reading this morning has the same basic theme. Eleven times Paul uses the word "one" to emphasize the difference, the huge difference, one man through one act can make in the lives of others.
"Sin entered the world through one man ..." (Rom 5:12). The one man Paul has in mind on this Preparatory Sunday is Adam. The one act was his eating of the forbidden fruit. What Adam did in the Garden was not just an individual sin. What Adam did in the Garden was not just something between him and his God. What Adam did in the Garden affected all others. Adam was the first sinner. And because of him every other human is also a sinner.
Somehow, in some way, every human is identified with Adam. When he sinned, we sinned. When he fell, we fell. When he ate the forbidden fruit, we ate the forbidden fruit. We participated with Adam. Do you see the difference one man can make?
B "Sin entered the world through one man ..." (Rom 5:12). This concept, this teaching, of communal sin and guilt is foreign to many in our culture. It was even foreign to many of Paul's countrymen. Don't forget, many Jews at the time of Jesus and Paul believed in a works righteousness. They believed in salvation by doing the right things. In such a setting, I am judged by what I do and not by what someone else has done. In fact, in such a setting what someone else has done has no bearing on me. In such a setting, all sin is between a person and his or her God with no consequences for others. Rugged individualism is the order of the day so each man and woman stands alone.
Regardless of what we may think or want, regardless of what our culture may believe, regardless of what Paul's countrymen may say, Adam and his sin has an impact on every other person.
C "Sin entered the world through one man ..." (Rom 5:12). Is this fair? It is fair of God to condemn the whole world just because of one man's disobedience? Well, let me ask, would you have done any better than Adam? Would you have succeeded where Adam failed? Of course not! Satan was still there. The forbidden fruit was still there. The command not to eat of it was still there. If God had tested each human individually, the result would still have been the same: disobedience.
"Sin entered the world through one man ..." (Rom 5:12). You have fallen in Adam. You are judged and condemned in Adam. So, as our baptism form puts it, you are conceived and born in sin. In Adam, you are a sinner. As I told the boys and girls, we have inherited sin from Adam. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the Lord's Supper this coming week.
A The second word is "gift." It is used seven times in our Scripture reading. It mostly refers to God's gift of grace. But in our text, Paul tells us about another gift, the gift of Adam: "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin ..." (Rom 5:12). Adam's gift to the human race was death.
Remember the anthrax scare following 9/11? Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two U.S. Senators. Five people were killed and seventeen others were infected.
Imagine that you received one of those letters. However, unlike the letters mailed in 2001, your letter says, "ANTHRAX. DO NOT OPEN." But you decide to open it anyway at a big get-together of your family and friends. When you slit open the envelope spores fly everywhere. Everyone present inhales the anthrax and dies.
When Adam sinned thousands of years ago, it was as if he opened a box of anthrax. God had warned Adam of the danger. God said,
(Gen 2:17) "... but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."But Adam, so to speak, opened the box anyway. He knew the results and he opened the box anyway. When Adam disobeyed, sin entered his body, sin entered the world, sin infected everything and everybody. And the result was even more lethal than anthrax: the result was death, inescapable death, death of soul and death of body. Adam knew better. But he did it anyway.
B "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin ..." (Rom 5:12). My brothers and sisters, the problem of death is bigger than any of the financial or personal or health problems we might have. The problem of death and eternal condemnation is man's biggest problem. Spiritually, we are living in the land of anthrax.
Death is everyone's problem. Death doesn't care who you are. It doesn't care about your job, your church membership, your physical condition, your family responsibilities, your hopes and plans for the future, your bills. It doesn't care about your age because it takes the very young as well as the very old and those in between. Death doesn't care where you live. For instance, what is the death rate in the U.S. compared to Afghanistan? It's the same – one hundred percent.
Ruth and I were looking at the obituary notices in the newspaper this past week. We observed that not a single notice used the word "death." Instead, people today "pass." "Pass." What a strange word to describe death. The same language is used for death as is used for passing your driver's exam or a drug test. Why? Because we live in a culture of denial. We pretend that death doesn't exist. That it doesn't happen. But it does. Just ask those who lost loved ones recently: ask Lindsay Tuls about the death of her grandma, ask Karen De Groot or Pat Rainbow about the death of their husband, ask Ed & Betty Boersma's neighbor about the drowning death of their little baby. And when death does happen, our culture covers it up with flowers, lots and lots of flowers. Also, have you ever noticed that many people don't have funerals anymore. Instead, they have celebrations of life. And, in those celebrations you are not allowed to mourn that someone important to you has died.
As you prepare for the Lord's Supper, keep in mind that we have inherited death from Adam – physical and spiritual death.
A The third word is "reign." This word is used five times in our Scripture reading. We are under the reign of sin and death. We are dead in our transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1). So much so that there is no life in us.
Now, let me say two statements to you. First, "Do you realize you are a bunch of liars?" Second, "We can bring nothing to God which is truly our own but sin."
Recently, a minister said these two statements to the congregation he is serving. What do you think of those two statements? Do you agree or disagree? "Do you realize you are a bunch of liars?" "We can bring nothing to God which is truly our own but sin."
This is our natural, sinful state because sin reigns in our mortal bodies. How does this come to expression? I ask the congregation to turn to Romans 3 (page 1750 in your pew Bibles). I would like us to read verses 10-18 responsively. I will begin with verse 10:
(Rom 3:10-18) As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (13) "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." (14) "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." (15) "Their feet are swift to shed blood; (16) ruin and misery mark their ways, (17) and the way of peace they do not know." (18) "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Now, who are these verses describing? They are describing you in your natural, sinful state. They are describing me in my natural, sinful state. There is no goodness in me. There is no goodness in you. Even as Christians we have no goodness of our own – because any goodness we have is all of Christ.
Hence the truth of the words of the minister I quoted earlier. "Do you realize you are a bunch of liars?" That is what I am as a sinner. "We can bring nothing to God which is truly our own but sin." As a sinner, I truly have nothing to give God except my sin.
B Many people have tried to explain salvation with different images. One such image is that we are lying sick in bed. God holds out to the tip of our tongue the medicine we need. All we need to do is open our mouths and swallow. God tells us, however, that our situation is far more serious. We are not just sick; we are dead in our transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1). Or, as Paul puts it in our Scripture reading, "death came to all men, because all sinned" (Rom 5:12).
Another common illustration suggests that we are drowning in the sea. In our sinful condition we are bobbing up and down, gasping for air, and God throws us a lifeline. All we need to do is grasp the lifeline. But this is not a true description either. Because we are not simply drowning; we have drowned! We are dead, lying at the bottom of the sea. Again, "death came to all men, because all sinned" (Rom 5:12).
Do you see our sinful, fallen condition? We are dead. Drowned. Hopeless. Helpless. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the Lord's Supper this coming week.
IV Much More
This bring us to our fourth and final word – the phrase "much more." This phrase is used four times in all of Romans 5.
We've been looking at Adam and the affects of the Fall into sin. Now, don't forget, Paul's intention is to contrast Adam with Christ. Whatever Adam does, how "much more" is done by Christ. Whatever we lost in Adam, how "much more" we gain in Christ.
We started our discussion of Adam by looking at the word "one." We looked at the huge difference the one man Adam makes in our lives. But the One Paul especially wants to talk about is Christ. He makes an even greater difference.
Adam's gift to the human race is death. Christ's gift to those who believe is eternal life.
Because of Adam, sin and death reign in our bodies. Because of Christ, righteousness reigns.
Do you see why Paul uses that phrase "much more" when it comes to Christ?
So, as your prepare for the Lord's Supper don't stop at your sin. Think about how "much more" is yours in Christ.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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