AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH - August 28, 2005
HOW GRACE BUTTED IN ON SIN AND BUTTED IT OUT!
THREE NOTS AND FOUR BUTS!
THREE KNOTS AND THREE BUTTINGS!
A Call to Recognise the Quality of the Conquest through Christ
I The PARENTHESIS for an AGE! 5:12-14
We have before noted how excellent the Berkeley Version rendering of the bracketed section in this chapter (5:13-14).
“It is therefore as follows,” it indicates at 5:12.
That is: this is what results! this is what you get from that!
From one man (5:12), sin entered the world, and so led to death for all men, since all have sinned. Then the word of God proceeds to consider a crucial comparison. But first we find an explanatory thought (5:13-14): the case of sin in the world was formally inapplicable, when there was no law; but law entered so that those who sinned after Adam could be confronted by it, their sin itemised!
Death still reigned from Adam to Moses’ law, even over those who had not sinned in the purely open situation of Adam, where only one prohibition met his ear: DO NOT EAT FROM THAT TREE! Adam indeed in this venture, was a type of the Coming One, the Christ; for in Adam’s action, ONE led to much for many (sin, death in all its horror), and he acted as a type of Another whose gift was grand and good!
II ONE BUT AND TWO NOTs!
Then comes v. 15. BUT NOT! it thunders, or YET TO THE CONTRARY. It is a fascinating manner of doing it. Just as Adam did this, NOT SO the parallel. Just as you LOST the property, thunders the Uncle, your brother regained it! That seems its meaning: ONE did this BUT NOT like that, the One to follow!
It is a negative comparison of great FORCE. How did Christ’s action differ ? We are told at once one way. Two strong words come here, like a starting motor in a car. YET NOT!
The free gift by grace is NOT to be compared to the offence.
How is there such a profound difference ? Thus, says Paul. ONE man's offence led to death for many, but the divine grace and the gift by grace by ONE man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. Indeed, if the offence led to death for many, MUCH MORE did this gift lead to life for many. If horror helped man to his grave, wonder brought many to life in the very death of condemnation, arresting it.
The SECOND negation comes at once in verse 16: AND NOT LIKE the impact of the one who sinned, is that of the One who saves. The one offence resulted in condemnation for many, but the free gift from the One brings justification for many (cf. Matthew 26:28, Romans 8:32: for the blood is shed for many for the remission of sins, many preferring to die in their sins - John 8:24).
What then is this contrast between the Adam affair and the business of Christ, the Redeemer ? The latter is not only opposite in direction, but crucially different in kind and marvellously ample in spread. It covers as the sky covers the earth, whereas the other, the work of Adam, covered as a stiletto covers the heart of the victim. The act of the Saviour who is ONE, is ample, abundant, gracious, a positive gift: but both the extremes are by one, very different though they are.
Each of the 'nots', you will note, has a 'but' with it or a negation implied linking one with the other by 'and', that in verse 15 being the strong Greek for BUT!! So we have two nots, one with a but, one with an and which simply continues the negative theme.
III TWO MORE BUTS, THAT BUTT OUT CONDEMNATION WITH BRIO!
Soon we come to two buts, without a not. These are found in Romans 5:20. First however, we learn in verse 17, that there was a REIGN of death through one man's sin, and that those who receive this markedly abundant GRACE will REIGN IN LIFE!
Thus there is an epochal parallel here; for not merely is the one positive instead of negative, vital instead of deadly, by grace instead of by rendering of sin, but its MODE is to REIGN! Death assuredly reigns, and while it is only in the resurrection that righteousness will be perfect in man, yet even now there is a victory (I John 5:4) which means a reign in life, not a ruin!
Thus, Paul sums, in v. 18: Just as through one man's offence, judgment came to ALL MEN, resulting in condemnation of all, so in a starkly contrary way, one man's righteous deed means the free gift comes towards all men, leading towards justification of life. You almost have to ‘duck’ to avoid it! Thus, v. 19, through one faulty act, many were categorised, turned into sinners; but by contrast, by one man's benevolent act, many are constituted righteous. Vast is the compassion adequate the provision, but limited is the transformation to those who receive it.
Notice that just as the reality of BEING a sinner is on the one side, granted! so the reality of BEING adjudged righteous in Him, through acquittal, is just as sure. Thus Romans 5:1-11 earlier made justification by faith, for the Christian, a thing already done, never left! There is NO mass production, NO mass payment, but the payment avails for ANY and is received by MANY, who are thus and then constituted righteous (II Corinthians 5:17-21). You can neither scripturally crimp the love of God, nor inundate the Cross with what crosses it out. Yet profound is the grace that reaches, the blood that covers, the goodness that reaches, the encompassing thrust, the availing power.
We should, accordingly, at once realise that the nature of the justification, by FAITH, has already been propounded and expounded in depth and detail, in Romans 4:1 to 5:11. Here in 5:12ff., it is the outline which is being covered for perspective historically and dynamically. Yet justification is thrust towards all!
Now then, we reach the next two buts (v. 20). These are in Greek, not the strong type (the word used can mean moreover, or but).They demarcate things nonetheless. First, although there is this justification so readily available, yet we must frankly focus on the enormity of the situation which grace faced in Christ. Thus, justified though we now are, who believe, yet the LAW was given to make the offence ABOUND: in detail specify every fault, rebuke every evil, spotlight each fault! How hopeless that could seem... to meet!
Then comes the second new but:
BUT just as law made sin abound, GRACE MUCH MORE abounded!
There is this illimitable liberality in the Lord! It should form a heart in your heart, a central focus in your mind and a vast mountain of joy in your conscience, that whatever sin did, and law, to expose sin minutely, in the very face of this, you now have what grace did FAR MORE!
It did MUCH MORE ABOUND, than sin did by law's impact!
Its multiplication ratio was not only greater, but incomparably higher that law wrought for sin. It showed the mountainous character of sin and its results; but this grace not only moves mountains, but makes them a plain! Thus sin reigned to death, but grace reigns to eternal life through Jesus Christ OUR Lord - that is, it is for those who have Him as Saviour and Lord as shown.
Thus we have 3 buts and 2 nots (a third implied).
Now we come in Romans 6:1-2, to the third actual not!
IV LET US BE PERSONAL!
Let us now be personal, Paul is stressing. SINCE grace has MUCH more abounded, the POSITIVES overcoming the negatives in grand style, shall we despite this,dip into the negative bin and take out what we will, so that with this, even expanded, grace will be yet MORE expanded! Shall we "continue in sin that grace may abound!” Shall we “live any longer in it!”
CERTAINLY NOT! is the reply. “NOT may it be!” is the word order in the Greek. Emphatically NOT!
Let us see then the sense of its teaching, the thrust and the point.
Have we then forgotten, he in effect proceeds. Don't you even now realise that when that penalty of death for sin was levelled right at you as if a gun were pointed from a nearby wall to the middle of your head, that you were as good as dead, dead in sin, since it ran you, whether by pride or ride: you were actually UNDER condemnation (cf. Ephesians 2:12).
There was no mistake! If then Christ has BORNE your sin and condemnation, you have died in Him, since it is YOU who are affected, following your sin to the dock, and likewise, you are restored IN HIM, by His doctor's, by his lawyer's skill. If then you have 'died', how on earth are you supposed to be talking of sin ? How ‘continue’ ? You died to it in Him, and live to Him!
Thus is the third NOT, which unties a knot, which some ignoring, have become knotty in their conceptions and gnarled in their way (Romans 3:4-8). This theme is applied boldly in Romans 6.
It goes on, but this is for today. Next week, Lord willing, we will work out what follows FROM THIS. In the meantime, FOLLOW HIM, whose is eternal life, abundant life, serene from sin, crucified with Christ; and if YOU have to fight against flesh (Galatians 5:17-24), fight as you would a scorpion, and love sin with the affection you would bear to that creature, calling on the PRINCE OF LIFE WHO lives in you, to deliver you: and faith, it will not be disappointed, since it is in HIM WHO IS ALIVE. Because HE lives, you will live also (John 14:19).