Death in Adam, Life in Christ
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Remember that seed of Adam I talked about before? In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s willful sin against God by his action in taking the fruit from his wife and eating it was more than just eating some “forbidden fruit”. The tree symbolized the knowledge of good and evil. God tells us to be naive toward evil and not to know anything about it. We are not to educate ourselves in the ways of the world, nor in sinfulness as it instructs our souls and produces evil desires. You can’t want something that’s without having a reason to want it. There’s a story told about a manufacturing company that set up shop in a Mexican village. They hired many of the people in the town and after the first month they had produced many, many products. After the people got their first paycheck, however, no one came back to work. The people had what they needed and now could live comfortably for the next few months on the money they had earned. The company, realizing they had lost their workforce, sent catalogs to the homes of their workers. Sure enough, now that they saw things that they didn’t know existed before, they now had a desire to try those strange things and they came back to work so they could afford them. Sin is the same way – if you live without knowledge of the sin, you don’t desire it. Prior to this event, it was God who was the one telling the world what was good. During the creation week God created everything in the universe and put it in order. He set the level of perfection, as there was no corruption in it, and He stated that it was “very good”. With the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God gave Adam the ability to make that decision on his own but he told him that if he ate of it, he would surely die Genesis 2:16-17. Why? 1) Because he would be disobeying God which is the definition of sin and, in doing so, he would be separated from God forever by his desire for the things that are against God. 2) God cannot have sin, or sinful things, in His presence. Because we are all from Adam’s seed (literally his children, many generations removed), we all embody sin. Those two items, when put together, show why it is that God could tell Adam that in that day he would surely die. He was, at that moment, separated from God forever. Everyone sins now. It’s in our nature. Even if we don’t sin in the same way as Adam’s first sin (that of wanting to be like God, knowing good from evil and right from wrong), we are all sinners in that we break God’s law. Even if we don’t know the law, we are still held accountable to it because God has placed His law into our hearts Jer 31:33; Heb 8:10; Heb 10:16 in our conscience.
Now, how are Jesus and Adam compared here? By one man’s sin, all became sin, in that we embody the very distrust and hatred of God that Adam’s sin first brought into the world. Now, through one Man’s righteous acts (Jesus’ perfect life, His sacrificial death on our behalf, and His resurrection proving His deity) we are set free from our sins. Through Adam’s sin, everyone is brought under the condemnation of the law of God (Exo. 20:1-17), but now through the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is applied to all who repent of their sins and turn to Him for their salvation, all men can be saved.