Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
— Romans 5:20–21
Previously we looked at the universal condemnation facing those that are in Adam. That is the entire human race, “for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (Romans 3:9).
Now, for those that think they might add religion to make Adam more presentable, the apostle adds what happened when the only God-given religion was added. The law never fixed Adam. It only showed that the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were nevertheless also the sons of Adam, to be also great sinners.
Those under the law carried with them the curse of the law.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” — Galatians 3:10
Israel was not fixed by the law. Israel became cursed by the law. The culmination of the 1500 year history of the chosen nation under law was summed up by one of their own, as he was brought before their religious council:
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” — Acts 7:51–53
Even now to this day, many among those claiming to be Christians in one way or another think that they can fix Adam by bringing him under the law. The Galatian assemblies that Paul brought to Christ entertained this exact same thing, so Paul addressed them:
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” — Galatians 3:1
The law carried with it a great curse, and every “Torah observant” person needs to understand this. Yes, they are correct, Yeshua kept the law. He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). And as verse 18 continues, one jot or tittle will in no wise pass from Torah until all be fulfilled.
But Jesus the Messiah gave to His apostle, Paul, a further revelation, that by His death for us on the cross,
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree…” — Galatians 3:13
“…God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” — Galatians 4:4–5
The law had no power to save anyone. Not that it was deficient, but that it was designed to do so.
“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…” — 1 Timothy 1:9–10
The law shows this abundant sin. In Romans 5:20, the Apostle Paul makes this clear, that the law entered into the lives of the children of Israel led out of Egypt so that their offence might abound. It would show them what they are, and not one of them was justified by the law. “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
In no place or time in human history did the sinfulness of man show itself so abundantly as when the Son of God was crucified at the hands of men. And it was not at the hands of the uncivilized, or of the irreligious, but it was at the hands of the religious leaders of Israel, the nation that the Lord put His Name on, calling them “My People”.
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!
The God of all grace used this awful act of mankind’s rebellion against Him to redeem mankind. It was through the blood shed during this very act of the culmination of mankind’s rebellion that we now have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Sin is abundant in the life and history of man. God’s grace is overabundant. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and those that receive this abundance of grace and gift of righteousness (justification by grace through faith) will reign in life. When will we reign in life?
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” — Colossians 3:4
But we also need not wait until the redemption of the body. While we, along with all of creation groan with the pains, difficulties, distresses, and injustices of life, we can take our place as those reigning under grace as we live by appropriation of that which is true. The overabundance of grace given to those in Christ, and made available to all of Adam’s condemned children is ours to live by presently. Sin is an overthrown despot with no power but that which we give it. And we need not give it any power. “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace!” (Romans 6:14).
The grace that Christ’s apostle teaches is not freedom to sin, but freedom to not sin. Deliverance from who we are by birth in Adam, to who we are as regenerated in Christ. We are baptized into Christ, by an act of God Himself, not the act of a “man of the cloth”, and by this baptism we are identified with Christ in His death, His burial, and His resurrection. Because of this, we have a new resurrection life that we can, also by grace, begin to live by now in our present circumstances, and reign in life and righteousness even now; and we do not need to put ourselves back under the law to do so. In fact, putting ourselves back under the law puts us back under the place where sin abounded. We realize our place under grace, and live accordingly.
When Christ died for our sins, He died to sin. When God baptizes us who believe this gospel into Christ, we die to sin with Him. When Christ rose from the dead, He did not rise again to be under sin. He rose again to live unto God, and we who are in Him are alive unto God in Him. He did not rise again to be under the law, but to deliver us from the curse of the law, and now, having died to sin the law has no more jurisdiction over Him. Since we are in Him, and identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection, the law has no more jurisdiction over us either. Sin has no more dominion over us either.
In Adam, we are condemned. Under the law, we are condemned. In Christ, we are justified, we are free from the curse of the law and free from the power of sin. We are alive in Christ, and as we go on in the gospel that we learn in Romans, our life begins at Calvary, where our history in Adam ends.
Free from the law, O happy condition,
Jesus has bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Grace has redeemed us once for all.
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.