We have learned that being neither Jew nor Gentile offers escape for anyone from the wrath of God, for indeed all are concluded to be under sin. We further learned that to be resolved of that condition, we are justified (made righteous) by faith. The righteousness of God is unto all and upon all them that believe (again, being a Jew or Gentile notwithstanding).
Chapter Four demonstrated this reality as not something new, but something that has been true, even all the way back to Abraham. Becoming an heir of Abraham is not a matter of works or performance, but is solely a matter of faith. Just as Abraham believed God and that belief was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness, Paul writes that this wasn’t recorded for Abraham’s sake only, but for US ALSO who believe on the risen Jesus Christ.
Chapter 5 begins the great truth of what it means to be justified. Now that God has made the believer righteous (which He was certainly under no obligation to do), God further demonstrates His grace by welcoming the justified believer into the realm of His salvation.
Recall from Chapter One, Paul was writing to the saints at Rome – those who were already of mutual faith with Paul, having believed on the resurrected Son of God. However, Paul was now ready to preach the gospel unto them (Romans 1:15) and it is this gospel that Paul is not ashamed of – the Gospel of Christ. This ‘good news’ is focused on opening the eyes of the Romans to understand what is true about them, having already been justified.
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Being justified by faith affords us unchanging peace with God, but it doesn’t stop there. Paul makes it clear that we HAVE peace with God. To be at peace with someone is to enjoy a state by which there is never any hostility. The same faith granted us access into His grace. Sometimes we view grace as something God gives out, like a trophy, but, we should never lose sight that God HIMSELF is Grace. After all, did not John record that the Word was made flesh and they beheld His glory, being FULL of GRACE and truth?
God extended grace to each believer by even offering to justify the believer. But God doesn’t stop there, after the believer has responded to the offer of grace, God then immerses that believer in grace. Romans 5:2 says we have access into this grace where in we STAND. This is present tense – we STAND in grace and no matter what happens in our rotten old flesh, we still stand because we are in the Person of Grace, who is forever worthy to stand therein. In other words, we stand by necessity because He stands.
Because of this grace, we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Hope is the confident expectation that what God has promised, He will indeed be faithful to bring to pass. But note, it doesn’t give us just cause to glory in ourselves – we didn’t bestow God’s grace upon ourselves – He did. If there is any boasting to be done, it is to be directed to and about HIM.
Therefore, we have reason to GLORY (rejoice) in our tribulations, knowing that our tribulations will produce patience in our lives. The Thessalonians were a perfect picture of this, having been commended for their ‘patience of hope’ that was a product of much affliction (1Thess. 1:3; 6-7). Further in 1Thessalonians, Paul tells them to not be moved by these afflictions because they are APPOINTED unto them (1Thess. 3:3). In other words, tribulations are going to happen, but they shouldn’t take you by surprise. The tribulations/afflictions will work patience in us as we awaiting the hope of His glory. We know that the tribulations we go through is NOT a reflection of His glory; which gives us all the more reason to rejoice in the hope of His glory.
Tribulations then work experience – wisdom. Wisdom reaffirms to us why we can rejoice in our tribulations, because, as Paul said, experience leads back to hope. It is a perfect cycle that works to refocus us AWAY from our troubling circumstances and TOWARDS our earnest expectation of His glory.
We can hope in His glory and not be ashamed of the tribulations we go through because His love is shed-abroad in our hearts, as Paul writes. Romans 8 states that NOTHING separates us from that love. Love as not some abstract, emotional mush. It isn’t a Friday evening watching sappy movies on LifeTime. Love is the determinant choice from the will of the individual to make provision for another, while accepting the risk that the other party may reject said provision. Love is not a feeling – it’s a choice. Love is not something you fall into – it’s something you give out.
What does God’s choice to love us demonstrate about God? Paul says that it is rare for one to die for a righteousness man. He says it is even rarer for one to die for just a good man. But, God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet SINNERS, Christ died for us. This flat out defies logic. If a righteousness man is worth dying for and a good man are worth dying for but yet, only a few would actually commit to dying for them, then what is God thinking to actually die for ALL sinners?! Nonetheless, God’s love for us defies our human logic.
God provided mankind a remedy at Calvary, knowing full-well that many would reject it. But, His love wasn’t just at Calvary, for Paul writes to the Philippians that our God will SUPPLY all our need according to HIS RICHES in glory BY CHRIST JESUS.
Therefore, Paul goes on to conclude, that being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies with God, God reconciled us unto Himself (by the death of His Son), MUCH MORE then BEING RECONCILED we shall be saved (by the LIFE of His Son). Remember “saved” doesn’t always refer to “saved from sin (being justified)” – it often refers to the very grace God brought us into as a RESULT of our justification. Romans 5:9-10 shows this to be true – that BEING JUSTIFIED we have something as a result – salvation from wrath and salvation by His life.
We were enemies of God before being justified, but now being justified by faith, we are no longer enemies, being fully at peace with Him.
Let’s turn our attention now to the LOCATION of grace. This location is where we are, at all times, without fail, regardless of how our already-not-measuring-up flesh continues to not measure up. As verse 2 of chapter 5 speaks, we were called into grace (by faith) and it is WHEREIN we stand. However, prior to faith, we were in a location where God would view us as SINNERS and ENEMIES (Romans 5:8; 10). We were in a realm of condemnation, WHEREIN we stood. There is tremendous implication to this. If the believer now stands IN Grace, then he no longer stands as a sinner. God completely and eternally sees the believer as RIGHTEOUS.
Paul is now ready to explain how this happened, beginning in verse 12.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 5:15 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. 5:16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 5:17 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.) 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin and Death were brought into the world by the choice of one man, namely, Adam. Paul records that Death reigned as king, even over those who had not transgressed as Adam did. Death was the uncontested victor and therefore established himself as king over mankind. Once the law came into existence, then Death’s a co-regent, Sin, was finally revealed. Paul writes that the law entered so that the offense might abound. When we move into Romans 7, we’ll see more of what it means that the offence abounded.
Adam was given dominion over creation and maintained the authority to make choices about creation. With one choice, Adam gave that dominion into the hands of Sin and Death. Adam became enslaved to Death and therefore anyone he brought into the world was brought in as a slave to Death–immediately. Eventually, when Sin came on the scene (by virtue of the law’s revelation), Adam’s descendants were shown to be enslaved to Sin as well. Death is the result of Sin and Sin explains why Death happens. It is impossible to have Death without Sin and the inverse is true as well. These two had humanity conquered – no matter what man would try to do to defeat these two, it was futile. Until, that is, one day Jesus Christ set foot up Calvary’s hill.
Sin and Death stood confidently – nothing had been able to defeat them before, what is one more try? Jesus Christ stretched out His arms on the cross, having become sin for you and me, and Sin found himself nailed to the cross. Sin panicked, but nothing could be done. And in a moment, Christ proclaimed that, It Is Finished! Sin is now dead.
My sin, O the bliss, of the glorious thought
My sin, not in part, but the WHOLE,
Is NAILED TO THE CROSS and I bear it NO MORE
But, it wasn’t just ‘sins’ that were dealt with at Calvary, but Sin Himself. It isn’t just my sins that were nailed to the cross, but Sin Himself was nailed to the very same cross, being crucified forever.
With Sin now dead, Christ was to deal with the other regent, Death himself. Christ died to defeat Sin. Christ was buried to bury Sin. Christ resurrected to LIFE to defeat Death. As Paul says to the Corinthians, O Grave, where is thy victory? O Death, where is thy sting?! Can you hear Paul mocking death and the grave in light of the resurrection of Christ?
Adam’s choice to be enslaved to Sin and Death was immediately rectified through the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ. Adam’s choice for disobedience brought condemnation upon his descendants. Adam could do nothing about it, no matter how much it repented him that he had made the decision he did. But, Christ’s choice for obedience to the Father opened access into His grace and is made available, freely, to all those who would, by faith, RECEIVE the abundance of grace.
Our story continues in Chapter Six…