For Bible class this morning I have done much study on Romans 5 and the particular point Paul was making. This study pertained to Romans 5:12-16. I have always enjoyed this portion of the chapter because of its difficulty; if something is difficult, then it requires of me much effort to correctly understand it. This is very stimulating to me. Sometimes, however, difficulty is more in the words used to convey the teaching than the teaching itself.
Paul’s primary point in chapter 5 is associated with the word justified. In 5:1, Paul states that Christians are “justified by faith,” while in 5:15-17, Paul explains this justification in relation to Adam’s contribution of judgment. In other words, Adam’s gift to mankind was death, judgment, and condemnation. Because physical man is of the “seed of Adam,” there is no way for Adam’s posterity to escape his contribution to our present and future. On the other hand, Jesus’ contribution to man was (is) life, acquittal, and pardon (or redemption). Because we have chosen to be of the “seed of Abraham” (4:18-25) in our obedience to God’s will, that from which we could not escape on our own (death) has been overcome/crushed (John 16:33).
One might wonder: “But, we still die. How have we escaped?” What Adam brought into the world was physical death, and the verdict of God from that time forward was the same (Hebrews 9:27). Adam’s spiritual death was not something that transferred to each generation thereafter. Spiritual death became our own (if you will) when we walked the same path Adam walked, that is, a path of disobedience.
Our escape, then, is in two parts. First, Jesus was victorious over physical death in His resurrection. With that, He gave man hope of the same. Second, with man being spiritually separated (dead) and without hope, Christ died for the ungodly (all of us; 5:8), and with this comes forgiveness. This is what Paul is saying in Romans 5.
This is the exegetical idea in Romans 5:12-16. Paul now makes application to this understanding in Romans 6; he exhorts “Since this is the case, then why in the world would you (a saint in Rome) think it is okay to live according to one’s own ideas?” Yet, so many Christians do think it is okay, and this is the challenge the Lord has with “getting through” to His people. Consequently, this rejection of the Lord’s authority and wisdom amounts to one either being totally, or almost the case, spiritually dead.