We make a giant step forward when we point out that Christ died for the ungodly (vv. 6-8). Sometimes people try to be flippant when we witness to them, alleging that they are no worse than many church members. But they must admit that they fall short of God’s required righteousness. John 3:16, probably the most famous verse in the New Testament, proclaims that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Every person in every nation is included. To emphasize the depth of that love, the Bible uses an example we can all understand. Most of us would be willing to put our lives at risk to save a member of our family. Some might even be willing to lay down their lives for a friend, or even a good person. God goes beyond our application in that He sent His Son to die for a godless infidel, even an enemy soldier. Therefore the Bible defines a sinner as anyone whose manner of living falls short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). All of us are guilty.
We are now ready for God’s next step, His much more (vv. 9-11). It is a two step process. In the first, we were justified (treated as though we had never sinned) by His blood. All New Testament writers join their views in locating God’s sacrificial act of Christ’s dying on the cross in which He experienced God’s righteous wrath against sin. We were reconciled with God on the cross. As to the future judgment, “We shall be saved from wrath through him” (v. 9). We must be firmly settled on the point of Christ’s objective death for sin. I say “objective,” locating the point in time and place, because free-thinking interpreters emphasize “saved by his life” (v. 10) as the critical point. They argue that His death only expiated or covered sin. The “saving” occurs as we participate through His life, thus saving us. The Bible, instead, keeps us centered on the cross. It is in Christ that we have received the atonement through His death. As we have noted previously, salvation has three tenses. In the past we were justified because Jesus took away our sins. In the present we are being sanctified as we are being freed from the power of sin. In the future we shall be glorified at the moment dead believers shall be resurrected.
God brought this about by the second Adam (vv. 18-19). Through the First Adam in the Garden, sin entered into the human race, affecting each person’s will, intellect, and emotions. We call that depravity. The Second Adam, Christ, on the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, lifted up between two thieves, gathered all the sins into Himself and in one decisive act, atoned for sins. One man’s disobedience wrought destruction. The Second Man’s obedience purchased righteousness.
Through the Second Adam, Christ, God showers us with grace abounding (vv. 20-12). Without the law for guidance, offenses among the nations ran amuck. A law cannot be broken if there is no law. The law made clear God’s demand for obedience. Israel proved the impossibility of obtaining righteousness by human effort in trying to obey the law. However, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (v. 20). Sin reigned supreme, ending in eternal death. Through Christ’s death, God’s grace reigns “through righteousness unto eternal life.” The curse is gone.
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