Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
How many times have you seen the sign “Trespassers will be prosecuted”? We have all strayed and are guilty of trespassing, not necessarily onto someone else’s land but often in the way we think and act. We are guilty of straying away from God’s loving, perfect, way and straying into a path that leads to somewhere dark and godless.
In this illustration of God’s grace to us Paul uses the picture of the courtroom with those who are trespassers condemned before the pure, holy and righteous judge. However we also have an advocate, a defence barrister who, not only defends us but stands in our place and take the punishment we should get. We are justified, or found not guilty before God. Paul tells us that we can’t earn this pardon from the judge through our works as it is a free gift.
This is one of the passages that sparked the revolution called the Reformation. No more would we have to do or say the right thing to gain God’s freedom. The work is done, Jesus has taken the punishment for us on the Cross, it is a free gift of grace. In fact there is nothing we can do because none of our works would be enough. I feel the great triumph of this passage is the fact that there is no sin “too big” not to be covered by God’s amazing grace. As Paul puts it “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
It can be easy to lose sight of this amazing truth and slip back into a works based attitude, whereby we have to gain God’s acceptance and forgiveness through our own efforts. However God’s gift of grace is free, and it is offered in love and is for those whose life is in Christ. So today accept afresh God’s wonderful free gift of grace and give thanks for the freedom that Jesus brings us.
Amazing grace- how sweet the sound- that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
Thank you Jesus! Amen
Amazing Grace: John Newton (1725-1807)
The Rev’d Stuart Nixon, Pioneer Minister, Birchwood, Warrington