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Commentary on Romans 5

Romans 5:12-21, Death in Adam, Life in Christ


This section contrasts our old life, before Christ with our new life, in Christ. Paul reiterated the scriptures account of the original sin of Adam. After all, because of Adam, sin entered the world. Even as mankind did not know sin as sin, for the law had not been yet established, man did know wickedness and death. Man knew the consequences of the broken relationship with God without the Law.

The Law was given to define sin. It was God’s way of making in known to man that even with the Law sin would reign in the heart of men. There was no manner of which man could pay restitution to remove the permanent effect of sin over man. The Law simply exposed the sin of all men. The Law was never going to be a bridge from death to life. Only Christ Jesus could connect the two.

Through Christ Jesus the Law is fulfilled. Man can enter right relationship with God because of His gift of grace to us. This gift of saving grace is the only way to restore any man to God. The Law was given so that our need for a savior would be apparent, so that we would know that we could never do anything on our own to overcome the power of sin over our lives. We could never satisfy our own debt.

In Christ, our new life is justified by His grace. Our new life is eternal. And our new life is victorious over sin. Since as in Adam, sin ruled. So also, under the Law, sin became most apparent. But also, as sin increased, so has grace. The increase in grace brought us to “eternal life in Christ Jesus.” (v. 21) Indeed, grace is greater than all our sin.

Application: Grace is Indeed Greater than All Our Sin

I think of the old hymn, “Marvelous grace of our Loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.” What exactly is that grace to a young girl? What is it to an old man? What is it to me? It is that grace that exceeds the debt of my sin and allows me to be in perfect union with Christ Jesus now, and eternally.

This passage is clear, there is no way but through Christ to bridge the gap from the consequences of our naturally sinful condition to an eternal life in Heaven. The only way to get passed the death sentence of sin is through Christ’s gift of grace. This grace, came in the form of death. Death to overcome death for all who receive the free gift of grace. This grace is the only thing greater than the sum total of all of our sin. It is hard to imagine how much sin that really is. Every sin for every man certainly cannot be counted by our finite minds. But God could count them, and He did. He counted out each and every sin of man past, present and future and paid the debt for them through His Son on the cross. The grace that was given us, is not only greater than our own sin but the sin of the world. It is indeed “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.” The only possible payment for all our sin.

*** I did not know that the song I have cited was written in context of these verses! Julia H. Johnston and Daniel Towner penned the song Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin in 1911 to tell of grace and justification by faith according to Romans 5:1-2, 14-16. As I read this passage, I could not ignore the tune creeping through my mind. What a powerful song summarizing this powerful message of God’s grace to us!

***Cit. “Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin” Johnston and Towner 1911, Moody

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