The purpose of this Bible study is to present grace as a remedy for the power of sin in our life and a remedy for sin.
GRACE #6: OVERVIEW OF ROMANS 1 THROUGH 5 ––
GRACE AS FREEDOM FROM PUNISHMENT FOR SINS
In the book of Romans, Paul explains very clearly both aspects of grace [that we have been discussing] and how to incorporate them into our lives, as follows:
q In Chapters 1 through 5, Paul describes the first aspect of grace, which is forgiveness. Paul explains grace in the sense that there is no punishment for our sins ever, that we will never be punished for our sins, that we are totally forgiven.
q Beginning in Chapter 6, Paul discusses the second aspect of grace, which is grace in its power to release us from slavery to sin.
So, before we look at Chapter 6, let us establish the context of Chapters 1 through 5.
Paul begins the book of Romans by saying There is good news for the human race. [And we ask What is the bad news?] And then he spends almost three chapters explaining the bad news:
q Everybody is condemned.
q Every human being has been weighed in the balance and has been found guilty.
That is bad news indeed, but it gets worse. Paul tells us the aspects of the bad news, which follow:
First: Everybody is born a sinner and is guilty; because of our sins, we are all condemned to hell.
Second: Everyone is helpless to do anything about his or her sin.
Third: Nobody even wants to do anything about his or her sin, because there is a problem of will in the human race.
Fourth: [And really bad news is––] God requires 100 percent righteousness and the human race offers the exact opposite, 100 percent sinfulness.
So the situation is, humanly speaking, impossible.
But then, in Romans 3:21, Paul uses one little word—three letters—and you could make a case that this one word is the most important word in the whole Bible. It is the word but. He has spent three chapters describing the situation as completely hopeless. God requires 100 percent righteousness, no one comes close, and there is no way out. Everybody is condemned. Then, in Romans 3:21, Paul begins the verse with the word but, and I believe that word is the pivot of the Bible.
This is the pivot of redemption:
But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested. (Romans 3:21)
Do you see why the word but is so important there? Righteousness is required. Nobody has it, but there is good news. Righteousness is available. Furthermore, it is available as a free gift.
So, at the end of Chapter 3, Paul is saying that righteousness is available as a free gift.
Question: Does everybody in the world get this righteousness?
Answer: No, it is available only for those who trust in Messiah Jesus as their Savior.
For those who trust in Messiah Jesus, His righteousness is credited to our account so that we can appear before God with a clean, spotless record.
In Chapters 4 and 5, Paul gives more details on how faith in Messiah Jesus gives us the free gift of righteousness. And here in this passage Paul describes three biblical imputations (God credits something to another person’s account), and all three are found in these two chapters, as follows:
The First Imputation is that Adam’s sin was placed on our account. That means when Adam sinned, his whole being changed. He was drastically altered. He acquired a sin nature. Adam’s sin nature was not just an ability to sin nor just a tendency to sin, it was an absolute compulsion to sin. Adam was a slave to sin because sin was master over him. And that sin nature was passed onto Cain, Abel, Seth and every descendant of Adam, except one. [Of course, that exception was Jesus of Nazareth; He did not have a biological, human father, so he did not inherit that sin nature.]
So Adam’s sin was imputed to us. Do you know what that means? That means when we were born our account with God was not clear. [Even though there is a period of time when He does not hold it against children, their account is not clear.] When we were born, we had sin on our account, and it was Adam’s sin. It does not seem fair––does it? However, a fuller understanding will demonstrate that this is indeed fair.
GET OUT THE ROACH SPRAY!
What would you say is the value of a roach? Let us make it really gross. Let us say a roach is in the flour, which is in the pantry. What value would you assign to that roach? Or let me ask you this—before you kill it [which I am assuming you would do], would you investigate to see if that roach deserved to die? Or, would you investigate to see what that particular roach had done?
Would you do that? After all, it could be that the roach that you just killed so coldheartedly was not as bad as other roaches. What if he was not doing all the things that other roaches do? What if this roach was a good roach? What if he took care of other roaches? Would you care?
None of that would matter, would it? We do not really start to analyze what all he might have done because we do not really want to know, especially if it is in the pantry. We do not want to know what he has been doing. We just kill him. The reason we do it is not because of what we think he has done or think he might do. We kill him because he deserves to die, because of what he is. He us a roach.
Analogy: That is the condition to which Adam brought the human race. He brought the human race down to a filthy race. So, that is why the whole human race is condemned to hell, according to the first three chapters of Romans.
From God’s perspective, humanity is a filthy race, and as you know, when a roach is born you might as well kill it right then. In fact, if you can kill the eggs you would do so, because a roach cannot produce anything good. This is the human condition, and this is why it is absolutely just that we are born with Adam’s sin on us.
You may be thinking It is really not fair to compare us with roaches. I agree, it is really not fair at all, so I apologize. The reason that it is not fair is that the difference between God and humans, and humans and roaches is much different. We are much lower than roaches from God’s perspective, so it was not a fair analogy!
Even if you think that is not a fair imputation that Adam’s sin was put on us, the second imputation is definitely not fair. No question; it is not fair. The Second Imputation is that our sin was placed on Jesus. That is certainly not fair. That is a horrible trade. Jesus of Nazareth was sinless; He lived a life of 100 percent righteousness. And what is really important is that His righteousness was achieved, not as God, but as man. That is where it is important to us.
It does not impress me that God could live a sinless life. However, it does impress me that a man could do so, and that is what Jesus of Nazareth did. This means that His righteousness as a human being could be put over in our account.
And that is the Third Imputation: Jesus’ righteousness was placed on our account, because he achieved it as a human being. So, legally, judicially we are 100 percent righteous.
In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul is talking about righteousness. God requires 100 percent of it and it is available by grace through faith and as a result, our sins are forgiven. And it is not God overlooking sin. It is not God saying Your sin is okay. Grace was God taking our sin and putting it on Jesus; then when He died, that sin of ours that was on His body died with Him.
That means that the power of sin was broken. When we were born, we were born like a little Adam—like a little roach—and sin was our master. We were not aware of it, because we had incorporated so much sin into our lives that we just were not aware that we were slaves to sin but we were. But when God took our sin, put it in Jesus and then struck His own Son, what He was doing was breaking the power of sin in our actual lives. So now we have forgiveness of sins and we have a remedy for the power of sin in our life, which is grace.
Before Paul goes on to Chapter 6, he emphasizes one other aspect of grace, and that is grace is a 100 percent remedy for sin. In fact, he says that the more we sin, the more grace springs into action doing two things. What does grace do to sin? It forgives it and it kills it. And he says that every time we sin, grace comes up. The more we sin, the more grace abounds.
So, you see, through Chapter 5, Paul has explained the first aspect of grace––there is no punishment for our sins. We are totally forgiven and we are totally free, which is the first aspect of grace: grace as freedom from punishment for sins.
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