Monday, February 06, 2023

2023.02.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:12–14

Read Romans 5:12–14

Questions from the Scripture text: How is Romans 5:12 related to the idea of union with Christ that has just been discussed in Romans 5:11? Through whom, did what, enter where? And what entered through sin? To whom did death spread? What had they all done? What was in the world before the giving of the law (Romans 5:13a)? But what cannot be imputed without a law (verse 13b)? When, and by what law, then, had all men sinned (cf. Romans 5:12a)? How do we know that sin was being imputed between Adam and Moses—what reigned during that time (Romans 5:14)? During that time, whose transgressions were some people’s sinning not quite like? What did Adam’s corporate/federal act make him to be? Of Whom was Adam this type/forerunner?

Does it seem wrong to you that we would be forgiven through another Man’s death, and blessed through another Man’s obedience? Romans 5:12–14 looks forward to the sermon in this week’s midweek meeting. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the reality of federal representation and union with our federal head is already obviously true in the fact that we are spiritually dead sinners who also physically die. 

The apostle has just referred to the centrality of union with Christ in our reconciliation with God. We did not receive reconciliation as an abstraction. It came through Christ’s blood and through Christ’s death, but even more than that it came in Christ Himself—even within Christ Himself. Believers were in Him in His obedience and death and resurrection. They are still in Him in His life (cf. Romans 5:10). And it is in Him that they are reconciled to God as blood-redeemed sinners, and lovingly adopted children.

Now the apostle shows that this federal representation and union is not something new. All men sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12-13), and all men died in Adam (Romans 5:12Romans 5:14), which occurred in part because humanity’s union with Adam in his death was an example of the same principle by which all for whom Christ died also died with Him and rose with Him (end of Romans 5:14).

All men sinned in Adam. “Through one man, sin entered the world” (Romans 5:12). Adam was our federal representative. Even though the word for “man” is not the male-specific word, Romans 5:14 calls him out by name. His wife sinned too, but it was in him and in his sin that we all sinned.

Already, in the garden, all men had sinned. They transgressed the law of a covenant in which death had been threatened, thousands of years before the Mosaic law. Their sins were not “according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam” (Romans 5:14). But they still received the covenant curse of that transgression: death. And this death was not only their returning to dust, but also spiritual death. They came into this world sinners against all the character of God, against that knowledge of God that is written upon all of our hearts (cf. Romans 2:12–16). 

All men died in Adam. The sin of Adam, and all of our sins, deserve something far worse than death: the wrath and curse of God. But it was death, specifically, that was the penalty for covenant transgression in the garden, and the fact that men died from Adam until Moses demonstrated that we had all sinned in Adam. In the day that he ate of the fruit, and we with him, we all died. When we come into this world “dead in trespasses” (cf. Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:5), it is because we died in Adam and with Adam on that day. 

This is one great reason that it will do men no good to complain that they don’t deserve to die in the future. They are already dead in the past, and this testifies to the dreadful fact that all who descend in the ordinary manner from Adam are “by nature children of wrath” (cf. Ephesians 2:3).

Adam is a type of Christ Who was to come. Adam is a type of Christ. Present tense. He continues to be an example to us. Men continue to come into this world as sinners and continue to die as a result of descending from Adam, in whom we sinned. 

It cannot be doubted that men sin and die. From the apostle’s discussion in this chapter, it is evident that people in his own day resisted the idea of Jesus being our federal Representative, and our being united to Him in His own obedience, death, and resurrection. Many resist that idea in our own day, from a perverted sense of justice in which we sit in arrogant and foolish judgment over the truth and reality of how God saves sinners in Jesus Christ.

We are saved through representation by our federal Head, and union with Him, in all of His obedience, in His atoning death, in His resurrection life. And it will not do for us to resist the idea of federal headship or union with a federal head. For, the fact of our sinfulness and death attests that we have all already been represented in a previous federal head. To quote the catechism’s summary of the Spirit’s teaching in this passage: the covenant being made with Adam not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

How do you know that you were in Adam when he sinned in the garden? What else happened to you on that day? If you believe in Jesus, what does that mean happened to you on the day that He was crucified? What happened to you on the day that He rose again from the dead?

Sample prayer:  Father, thank You for giving Your Son to be the last Adam, so that in Him we might be brought from a state of sin and misery into a state of righteousness and blessedness. Grant that Your Spirit would continue to apply to us the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we might die unto sin and walk in newness of life, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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