Romans 5:20. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
Romans 1-5 is preparing us to understand our union with Christ. It is about our sin and justification through Christ, which are foundational truths for understanding “to live is Christ.” Romans 6 will launch us into possibly the most glorious exposition of the doctrine of our union with Christ ever written. But before we enter into this rhetorical heaven, let us consider the all encompassing grace of God which will be our tour guide in the days to come.
You are a sinner. Sorry, it’s true.
As we’ve already learned here in Romans, we are born into Adam. We sin because we are born sinners. Christ, the second Adam, is the end of this. By faith we can be born into him, found in him, placed into him. There is no third option.
“Wait, what about law keeping?” “Isn’t that option #3?”
The idea here is that you don’t have to be in Adam (original sin) or Christ (justification), you can just be yourself and be good and earn your way to heaven. By the way, this is the majority view of the world and all religions in the world. Aren’t we just blank slates in need of training, and education, and good social systems? Can’t we just be nice and let our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds?
The Law is not offering a third option. The Law was given to expose us as being in Adam. The Law increases the trespass. It was given to expose our sinful hearts. The Law defines sin, displays sin, reveals sin, provokes sin, and increases sin. Yikes.
The problem is that law is all around us. The law rules our lives, at work, at play, at school, at the dinner table, at the book club, at church, Instagram, Facebook, break ups, hook ups, holidays, dinner parties. I can’t think of a place where some standard doesn’t rule what we do and how we feel when we either fail or succeed at it. Can you?
Warning: language. But a powerful example of law’s rule in our lives.
The even bigger problem is that all this law produces all kinds of sinning. Unrighteous sinning. Righteous sinning. Striving or fleeing. Trying or quitting. Law doesn’t make you a sinner, Adam did that when you were born. Law turns your invisible sinfulness into visible sins. Sins of being good (law keeping) and sins of being bad (law breaking). We are left drowning in law and thus drowning in sin. If this were the end of the story we would all be condemned to death.
But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
Grace super-abounded! God’s answer to the sin problem is the abundance of grace. There is and will always be much, much, much, more grace in the universe than there is evil. You can never out-sin God’s grace. You can’t outrun it. You can’t hide from it. You can’t measure it. If you go to heaven, grace is there. If you go to the grave, grace is there. Grace makes darkness light, and death life. Like the law, grace exposes, grace reveals, grace unveils. But unlike the law, real grace always produces righteousness and life.
Romans 5:21. so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Grace is an extremely hard concept for us. Not to mention super abounding grace. Each of us often tends to either think that we are beyond grace or that we can pay God back for his grace. “How can God forgive terrible me?” Or, “God has done so much to rescue terrible me, I must now live for him.” The truth is yes we are terrible. And this is the necessary realization for the reception of grace.
This is crucial – Grace cannot abound where sin does not already abound.
Yes, I know sin is always abounding so grace is always abounding. But I’m talking about in your own perception. Are you aware of your sinfulness (that’s the Law’s job)? If you can’t admit the abounding sin in your life you will never be open to receiving the abounding grace of God through Christ. The truth of Christian transformation is not one of growing less and less sinful as much as it is one of growing more and more aware of your sinfulness and need for grace, receiving that abundant grace, and letting that grace reign in righteousness (5:21).
But what is this grace?
So far in Romans grace has been “Christ died FOR you” – justification. Now it is about to be “You died WITH Christ.” We are about to see what grace really is in its fullness and how it can bring real transformation to your life. Romans 6 here we come!
Are you aware of the abundance of sin and the super abundance of grace in your life?