Romans 5:20. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
You are a sinner. Sorry, it’s true.
And why do we sin? We sin because we are born sinners. We were born into Adam and into his sin nature. But by faith our old sin nature can be put to death and we can be re-born into Christ.
Adam or Christ. Sin nature or new nature. Dead or alive. Original sin or justification. There is no third option.
But wait! What about obeying God’s law? Isn’t that option #3?
A law-keeper believes that you don’t have to be in Adam or in Christ. You can just be “in” yourself. You can be good and earn your way to heaven. In fact, this is the majority view in the world today and the fundamental teaching of every major religion in the world (except one). 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?
No. Because the truth is that the law is not actually offering us this third option. The law was never given to make us righteous. It was given to expose us as unrighteous. The law increases the trespass. It exposes 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. Law rules our lives. At work, at play, at school, at the dinner table, the book club, at church, on Instagram and Facebook, in break ups and hook ups, at holidays and dinner parties. I can’t think of a place where some overarching standard doesn’t rule what we do and how we feel when we either fail or succeed at it. Can you?
The even bigger problem is that all this law produces all kinds of sinning. Unrighteous sinning. Righteous sinning. Striving and fleeing. Trying and quitting. No, the law doesn’t make you a sinner. You are a sinner because Sin is born into you by nature. But the law does turn the invisible sin of the heart into visible sins of the body. Sins of being good (self-righteousness) and sins of being bad (unrighteousness). We are left drowning in law and thus drowning in sin. If this were the end of the verse, we would all be condemned to death. But praise God there’s more!
Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
Grace super-abounded! God’s answer to our abundant sin problem is the super-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.
But let’s be honest, grace is an extremely hard concept for us. Not to mention super abounding grace. We all default toward thinking that we are beyond grace or even that we should and 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 live for him now.” 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 and so grace is always super abounding. But I’m talking about in your perception of yourself. Are you aware of your sinfulness (remember that’s the law’s purpose)? If you can’t admit the abounding sin in your life, you will never be open to receiving the super abounding grace of God through Christ in your life. 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 abounding sinfulness and need for super abounding grace. And then letting that grace reign in righteousness (5:21).
“To live is Christ” is to continue to allow the law to reveal your abounding sin, and then to turn to the super abounding grace of God in Christ. A grace that can never be stopped as it leads us through righteousness and into eternal life.
Are you aware of the abundance of sin and the super abundance of grace in your life?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you can’t out sin God’s grace encourage you today?
Christ in you
Has grace been reigning in your life? What might need to change today in order for grace to rule your life?
Extended Playlist: Abounding Grace.
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