Though it points out sins, the law is powerless to save us from them. That very powerlessness, however, shows us our need for Jesus, the only solution for sin.
Read Romans 5:12-21. In what way is the message of God’s grace revealed in these texts?
Notice in this passage the constant association between sin and death. Time and again they appear in immediate relationship with each other. And that’s because sin, the violation of God’s law, leads to death.
Now read Romans 5:20. When the law
entered, sin abounded, in the sense that the law clearly defined what sin was. However, instead of bringing in the natural result of sin, which is death, Paul says this:
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (NKJV). In other words, no matter how bad sin is, God’s grace is sufficient to cover it for those who claim His promises by faith.
Influenced by the translation of 1 John 3:4 in the King James Version (
sin is the transgression of the law), many restrict sin to the violation of the Ten Commandments alone. However, a more literal translation is:
sin is lawlessness (NKJV) (anomia). Anything that goes against the principles of God is sin. Hence, although the Ten Commandments had not yet been formally revealed when Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he violated a command of God (Gen. 2:17) and was consequently guilty of sin. Indeed, it is through the sin of Adam that the curse of death has affected all generations of humanity (Rom. 5:12, 17, 21).
In contrast to Adam’s unfaithfulness, Jesus’ loyalty to God’s law resulted in the hope of eternal life. Although tempted, Jesus never yielded to sin (Heb. 4:15). Here in Romans, Paul extols Jesus’ righteous obedience, which has resulted in eternal life (Rom. 5:18-21) for those who accept it. As the Second Adam, Jesus kept the law fully and broke the curse of death. His righteousness can now become that of the believer’s. A person condemned to death by inheriting the sin of the first Adam can now embrace the gift of life by accepting the righteousness of the Second one, Jesus.