November 7: No Justification Without Representation

Romans 5:18-19. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For 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. 

It’s election day as I write this. Elections in America are all about representation. Who will speak for us? Act for us? Advocate for us? And so we vote for those who would represent us. In ancient times the idea of a representative was even more ingrained then it is for us. If we don’t like our president we say #notmypresident. But no one in ancient days would say #notmyking or #notmywarrior. Not without a war on their hands. When David fought Goliath, he represented the whole nation. When Moses poke to Pharaoh, he represented the whole nation. When Adam sinned, he represented all of humanity.

I probably don’t need to convince you of the wickedness of humanity today. And if you’ve been around children for any length of time, then you know that people are pretty bad right from the get go. Every child, if left to their own devices, will grow up to basically destroy society. In our hearts we know this.

But what explains this? The Christian view is that we have inherited not only the capacity for evil, but evil itself from our father Adam. We were born this way. Natural born sinners.

You are not condemned by the millions of sins you’ve committed in your life. You are condemned by the sin of Adam in the Garden. True, his sin results in your individual sins. And it results in you having a sin nature. His sin nature has been passed on to you and me and everyone. We are all now sin factories.

I know this truth can rub us the wrong way. “I’m guilty because of what Adam did?” Yes. But let’s face this with God’s righteousness in mind. Would any human, Adam? Joey?  Steve? Lamar? Betsy? Linda? You? Would any of them have faced the temptation and not given in? We have to believe that the answer to that was no. Adam was the BEST option and he failed. So let’s move on.

Yes, the principle of having a representative head destroyed us as a race. But that same exact principle is what will rescue us as a race.

If it is true that we are born guilty, then there is only one solution. We must escape the human race and join a new humanity. We must be born again.

Christ is the new humanity. And Christ represents the new humanity. When he accomplished his one act of righteousness – dying on the cross – it led to justification and life for you and me. How? Because he represented us. Just like Adam represented us in the Garden. Or Frodo represented middle earth…

This truth is the foundation of “to live is Christ.” We are IN CHRIST because he is our representative head. Like when David defeated Goliath and the whole nation won (not just David), we have obtained everything that Christ has accomplished. His life and righteousness are now ours.

2 Corinthians 5:21. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

How is this possible? How are we the righteousness of God? Or as Romans 5:19 puts it, how are we made righteous?

Three things have to happen:

  1. First, all of your sins must be dealt with and put away forever. No debt. No condemnation. No outstanding warrants. Forgiveness. Expiation.
  2. Next, beyond removing the guilt of sin, God must remove the Sin nature. The ability and desire to sin that you are born with. He does this by uniting you to Christ’s death. The Old Man is crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). You died. And that’s good.
  3. Finally, God must make you alive again. He must unite you to Christ’s resurrection, his new life. You have been moved from Christ’s death to Christ’s life. Now you are a new creation. Now you are able to actually be righteous.

These three things combined are our justification. All three are necessary. And all three will be further explained in the upcoming chapters of Romans.

How would you explain justification in terms of union with Christ? How is union with Christ rooted in the representative headship of Christ? How do these theological truths encourage you today? If you need encouragement today listen to this…

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