Man's Dual Problem:
- In Adam -
Last time we saw that even though we have been justified by the Blood of Jesus Christ we have another problem; our very nature. Remember that sin is not our only problem. We are sinners and the product of that is our sins. We have within us a sin-nature, which we have inherited from Adam. "By the one man's disobedience the many were made [or "constituted"] sinners" (Rom. 5:19). How were we constituted sinners?
We were constituted sinners by Adam's disobedience. We don't become sinners by what we have done but because of what Adam has done and become. Consider the question: Who is a sinner? A common response might be that a sinner is "one who sins". Yes, one who sins is a sinner, but his sins are merely evidence of the fact that he is already a sinner, the sins are not the cause. "One who sins is a sinner, but ... one who does not sin, if he is of Adam's race, is a sinner too, and in need of redemption. Do you follow?" There are bad and good sinners, moral and corrupt sinners, but they are all sinners. We tend to think that if we had not done certain things then everything would be well. The trouble lies far deeper that in what we do though, it is in what we are. Take for example a Chinese born in Spain and unable to speak Chinese. He is still a Chinese. He was born a Chinese, and birth counts. So the same is true of me, I am a sinner because I am born in Adam. It is not a matter of behavior, but of heredity and parentage. I sin because I am a sinner.
We also tend to think that what we have done is very bad, but that we ourselves are not so very bad. God takes great pains to show us that we are wrong. The root trouble is the sinner and he must be dealt with. Our sins are dealt with by the Blood. We ourselves are dealt with by the Cross. Blood procures pardon for what we have done, while the cross procures deliverance from what we are.
Man By Nature
We have now come to the first passage in our second section of the book of Romans. Here, in Romans 5:12-21, grace is contrasted with sin and the obedience of Christ contrasted with the disobedience of Adam. This passage leads us to the conclusion, which is the heart of our study. Verse 19: "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous." God shows us in this passage what we are and then shows us how we came to be as we are.
At the beginning of our Christian life we are concerned more with our doing, and not with our being. We are distressed by what we have done rather than by what we are. We think if we could rectify certain things we would be good Christians, so we set out to change our actions. Our results, however, are not what we expect them to be. We discover that it is more than a case of trouble on the outside, there is a more serious trouble on the inside. We try to please the Lord, but find something within that does not want to please him. We try to be humble, but something refuses to be humble. We try to be loving, but feel very unloving on the inside. The more we try to rectify the matter on the outside the more we realize how deep-seated is the problem. Our cry to the Lord becomes, "Oh Lord, not only what I have done is wrong; I am wrong."
The conclusion of Romans 5:19 should be beginning to dawn on us now. We are sinners. We are a race of people constitutionally other that what God intended for us to be. Through the Fall, a fundamental change took place in Adam's character, he became a sinner. He became constitutionally unable to please God. Remember constitution here means what something is comprised of; what something is made of. Adam now had "sinner" as a part of him. Not only do we get an outward likeness from being a member of Adam's family, but we get an inward likeness also. We have been "constituted sinners." How did this happen? "By the disobedience of one," according to the Apostle Paul.
Here is a simple analogy: My name is Willis. How did I come by it? I did not choose it. I had no part in the selection of it at all. I am a Willis because my father is a Willis. My father is a Willis because my grandfather is a Willis. If I act like a Willis or if I do not act like a Willis, I am still a Willis. If I am rich I am a Willis and if I am poor I am still a Willis. Nothing I do or refrain from doing will make me other than a Willis.
We are sinners not because of ourselves, but because of Adam. It is not because I have individually sinned that I am a sinner, but because I was in Adam when he sinned. By birth I am of Adam, therefore I am a part of him. I cannot do anything to alter this. I cannot, by improving my behavior, make myself anything but a part of Adam, and so a sinner.
There is a oneness of human life. Our life comes from Adam. If your great-grandfather had died at the age of three where would you be? You would have died with him! Your experience is tied to his. This is the same with everyone of us, we are bound up with Adam. None can say "I have not been in Eden," for potentially we were all there when Adam yielded to the serpent's words. We are all involved in Adam's sin. By being born "in Adam" we receive all that he became as a result of sin - the "Adam-nature", which is the nature of a sinner. We derive our existence from him, and because his life became a sinful life, a sin-nature, therefore the nature we derive from him is also sinful. The trouble is in our heredity, not in our behavior. Unless we can change our parentage there is no deliverance for us. But this is exactly the solution to our problem. This is how God has dealt with it.
We see that we have inherited from Adam a character that is fundamentally a sin-nature. We are of the wrong stock, that is, we are sinners. Next time we will look a bit more at this passage in Romans 5:12-21 and get a glimpse of God's plan of deliverance from sin. Until then, "may God richly bless you, my beloved".