“For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5.17 (NLT)
Romans 5 is clear in explaining that we all have a wall between us and God. Because of Sin, our path to God has been obstructed, with no way around. Ever gone down a road just to find out that it’s a dead end? Sin is that dead end. Without Christ, we are all on that road. Paul tells us that because of Adam’s sin, death rules over us. The problems of society, the struggles of life, man’s inability to save himself, all are effects of Sin and without Christ there is no hope for anyone to overcome it. Here’s what Paul tells us in Ephesians 2.1-3:
“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil-the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.”
Paul makes it clear that we are ALL this way without Christ. Everyone lives in Sin and is guided by their sinful nature apart from the grace of God through Christ. Recognizing that Sin is the barrier separating us from God is the first in three recognitions that we all must make in light of Romans 5. We must also accept the reality of Sin before we can begin to see our need for a Savior and the only way to do this is through God’s Word. Let’s take a look at these other two factors.
Accept Sin/Recognize the Savior
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17.9 (ESV)
The prophet Jeremiah describes EVERYONE’s situation; our hearts are deceitful. The fact is that our hearts are sick and the only cure is a Savior. The best model for this in Scripture is the thief on the cross at Jesus’ crucifixion in Luke 23.40-43:
“But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.’
If you asked the common person on the street why God should let them into heaven, the most likely answer would be, “Because I’m a good person.” While it is possible that they may be a relatively good person (give to charity, volunteer, adopt children from Nigeria, etc.) however these deeds have no salvation power and don’t give anyone an extra special foothold into heaven. Solomon would say, “All is vanity!” Ultimately, if we don’t recognize that there is a barrier between us and God, we will not accept our need for a Savior. The criminal on the cross recognized his need for a Savior and reached out in his time of recognition. Have you accepted Sin as a barrier between you and God? Have you reached out to the Savior?
Recognize Your Need Through the Word
“Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”- John 17.17 (NLT)
God has ordained the spreading of His message through the Word. Either read or preached, the only way that people will know their need for the Savior is through God’s Word. God’s law reveals a standard, and with that shows the recognition that we all fall short. God’s Word also reveals the Savior, who lived a sinless life, died and rose again and ascended into heaven with a promise to return again to make things right. Here’s what Paul tells us in Romans 5.20-21:
“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Whether it be our need for the Savior or a recognition of God’s grace, everything is revealed through the Word. What does this mean? This means we need to let others know about this truth. This means we need to get in the Word and know more ourselves about this truth. This means we must support the preaching and proclamation of the Word to all peoples and all nations. God’s salvation comes through the preaching and hearing of the word. Paul later says in Romans 10.14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” We must recognize the need for the Savior through the Word of God.
We have seen that the barrier between man and God is Sin. I capitalize Sin because it must be distinguished between little sins. Little sins are the everyday things that we do when we disobey God and choose our own desires over His. Sin (with the big S) is the inherited nature that all men have. Because of Adam, we have Sin and the only way to remove that barrier is by accepting this and recognizing our need for a Savior. However, this recognition can only come through the Word. Whether read or heard, the only way one can see their sin and know about the Savior is through God’s Word. We must proclaim it, read it, study it, know it, and love it. We must be willing to share it with others. Do you recognize that barrier of Sin? Have you seen your need for a Savior through the Word? I pray as you have studied with us through Romans that you have seen and recognized this, either as an eye-opening first occasion or as a refresher to your already established faith. Let’s join together in the cause of sharing this truth and encouraging one another on this journey. It is clear that we can not do it alone, otherwise why would we need a Savior in the first place. And in God’s wonderful grace, He has established the Church as His earthly vessel for healing and encouragement through this rough and tumultuous world. Stick with us for the remainder of Romans as we look at what Paul has to say about little sins and the spiritual battle we face in the weeks ahead. Take care and have a great week in the Lord!