“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” (Romans 5:15)
Before moving into the next section of the Book of Romans — Sanctification, beginning in Chapter 6 — the Apostle Paul covers one final topic concerning Salvation in the last passage of the Fifth chapter. The topic of Original Sin, the inherited guiltiness of all mankind by the disobedience of our great-grandfather, Adam, is momentarily touched upon in the contrast between what our ancestor did in the Garden of Eden and what Christ did at Calvary.
Perhaps no other doctrine thus far introduced is so inherently controversial, so intrinsically offensive, or so repulsive to the pride and ego of our carnal nature. In a world where we are taught from childhood that each and every person should always be judged by their own individual actions, standing or falling by their own merits, or lack thereof, the idea that any of us ought to bear the penalty for a crime we ourselves did not commit is utterly abhorrent. Though we might reluctantly concede that the penalties we must endure for our own sinfulness are both fitting and just, we are less apt to acknowledge the justice of suffering for the misdeeds of another.
Be that as it may, the reality of Original Sin, with all of its consequences, is implied by the Apostle Paul without the slightest effort made to enlarge or expound on the topic. Its existence and ramifications are assumed to be understood by the reader, rendering any persuasion or supportive argument unnecessary. All men die. Young, old, virtuous, and depraved; no one survives this world indefinitely. Death made its entrance through the disobedience of Adam, and it has yet to be extinguished. The case was made in the initial chapters of Romans for the personal guiltiness of every man and now, without so much as a single illustration or analogy, the fact of the universal guiltiness of all mankind is presented merely as a premise for the final aspect of Justification in Christ. Perhaps it was recognized that, while people are needful of being instructed concerning their fate when this life concludes, the notion that this life will end is wholly incontrovertible.
It is most appropriate that the Psalmist called the Word of God a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105), for it is as a flashlight shining into the darkness, lighting the edges of our path and all too often illuminating only our very next step. It is not as the midday Sun, shining its clear light upon each expanse of horizon that we may know the limitless truths of God in fullness. It has pleased the Lord to show us those things that we need to know in order to know Him and obey His will for us. Were we able to inquire fully concerning the Holy Spirit’s revelations, we might desire to know more about why it is that all who would live after Adam would be held accountable for his sin. Yet, as it is, no in-depth explanation is given.
Perhaps God, in His infinite insight and knowledge, realizes that, were each and every one of us given the same circumstances as that first man, we, too, would have responded likewise. The failing of Adam in the Garden was a failing of us all because, had we been in his same situation, we would have disobeyed the Lord as well. We like to think better of ourselves, but who among us would have really responded any differently to the Temptation? Regardless, the sin of Adam brought death into the lives of all men who would descend from him and corrupted the nature of mankind, staining the souls of humanity with the ugliness of depravity.
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)
Even more so, the reason why more detail is not given in this passage about Original Sin and how it works is because Original Sin is not the subject here at all, Jesus is. It is not what man did in the Garden of Eden that is really in view, but what God did at Calvary. So often in Scripture, the sins of man are mentioned only in passing, they are never what is ultimately in focus. The Bible is not about where man has failed, it is about where God has succeeded on our behalf; it is not about the problem, but the remedy. The grace of God is much more than the depravity of man and the righteousness of Jesus Christ much more than the unrighteousness of mankind. Death came by Adam, but life comes by Christ. For those who are trusting in Him, what we have inherited in Jesus is far beyond what we inherited in Adam.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,