Romans 4, having convinced us of the importance of faith, gives way to Romans 5, where some of the most valuable benefits of faith are explained. Once we believe and obey God through Jesus, we can expect justification. The first 5 verses of this chapter establish a beautiful framework of peace, grace, and hope:
- Peace with God
- Made possible by Jesus Christ
- God’s grace imparted to us
- Made possible through Christ by faith
- We stand in God’s grace and rejoice in the hope of His glory
- We value the challenges that come as the result of living with faith because:
- Tribulation produces perseverance
- Perseverance produces character
- Character produces hope
- Hope sustains us because it comes from the love of God through the Holy Spirit
Verses 6-11 reveal in detail the role that Christ’s death has in our justification. Because of the sacrifice of His death, we have justification of our sins. Even though we were still in the depths of our sin, God still loved us enough to send Christ to die for us. This reconciliation for us back to God ought to produce profound gratitude.
Adam’s role in our spiritual journey is detailed in the next verses as follows: through him sin entered the world and all mankind experience the consequences of being born to work and die under the sun. From Adam to Moses death had free reign as there was no law to bring sin to light. But after the law was established, sin was made apparent and man’s spiritual dilemma was obvious. There are two equations in verse 16, which can be expressed as follows:
- One offense (Adam’s sin) + God’s judgment = condemnation
- Many offenses (mankind’s sin in total) + Christ’s sacrifice = justification
Verse 16 explains the condition of sin and forgiveness in this way to illuminate how lopsided our relationship is with God in terms of effort. Where a single sin is enough to condemn one man and create consequences for all mankind, the single sacrifice of God’s Son alleviates all sins in a single act, resulting in our justification. Other than instilling within each of us a deep well of gratitude, the presentation of these facts will also lead us to admiration and a desire to model our lives on the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Verses 17-19 build on these ideas, concluding with the unmistakable reference to Christ: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” The first “one man” is of course Adam, and the second “one Man” is of course Jesus.
The final two verses of this chapter tell us yet more about the role of the old law. While it is expected that some of us have the idea that the animal sacrifices given for sins under the old law were meant to “make up” or atone for sin, Paul reveals that the role of the law was actually quite different. For as it says in Hebrews 10:4 that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins, we ask ourselves, then why did God have His people in the Old Testament sacrifice bulls and goats for their sins? The answer given here is that the law was meant to expose sin, to bring more attention to the frequency that mankind disobeyed God. Where sin exists, so does death, but under the gospel of Jesus Christ, sin ushers in grace, which easily justifies the sin of all mankind who believe in God. A statement from the commentary of Matthew Henry sums up the final verses of Romans 5 very well: “…the terrors of the law make gospel comforts the more sweet.”
Romans 5 climaxes nicely with this revelation of the role of the old law while also giving us some wonderful insights into how faith can make us stronger children of God. What else can we do with these explanations but try and increase our faith in God? How deep does my faith go? Does it truly permeate every aspect of my life, or do I stop it in some spots (particularly where it would cause me to make changes I do not want to make)? The faith spoken of by Paul in this chapter is a faith that is absolute and total. If I believe in God as He would have me to, I will put the totality of my life in His hands, leaving little or (preferably) nothing for myself. It is within Him that we can find our true identity, and not some identity that we fancy to fashion for ourselves which will be ultimately inferior and lacking in meaning. Give Him your all, for He gave His Son for you!