Man's Dual Problem:
In Adam/In Christ
Last time we saw how we inherited a sin-nature from Adam. We have this sin-nature from our parentage in Adam and unless our parentage can be changed then we will always have this inherited sin-nature from Adam present inside us. At the end of the last post I ended with this comment: "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 will jump right into our study.
In Romans 5:12-21 we learn something about Adam, but we also learn something about Christ. "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" (Rom. 5:19). In Adam we receive everything that is of Adam; in Christ we receive everything that is of Christ.
For us to progress any farther in our study it is essential that we have some understanding of the terms "in Adam" and "in Christ". We will emphasize the heredity and racial significance of the term "in Christ" using an illustration found in Hebrews. Towards the beginning of Hebrews the author is trying to show that Melchizedek is greater than Levi. The point of this attempt is to prove that the priesthood of Christ is greater than the priesthood of Aaron, who was of the tribe of Levi. To prove that point the author first had to prove that the priesthood of Melchizedek was greater than the priesthood of Levi, since Christ is "after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 7:14-17), while Aaron is after the order of Levi. The writer must demonstrate that, in God's eyes, Melchizedek is greater than Levi, but the author proves this in a very unusual way.
Melchizedek and Levi
In Hebrews 7, Abraham is returning from a battle of the kings and meeting Melchizedek he offers a tithe (a tenth) of his spoils from the battle to Melchizedek and receives a blessing from him. Since Abraham did so, Levi is of less account than Melchizedek. Why? Because Abraham offered to Melchizedek means that Issac "in Abraham" offered to Melchizedek. If that is true it also means that Jacob "in Abraham" offered, which in turn means that Levi "in Abraham" offered to Melchizedek. It is true that the lesser offers to the greater (Heb. 7:7). So Levi is of lesser standing than Melchizedek, and as such, the priesthood of Aaron is inferior to that of the Lord Jesus. Levi, at the time of this battle, was not even thought of yet, but he was "in the loins of his ancestor," Abraham, and, "paid tithes through Abraham" (Heb. 7:9,10).
Here we have the exact meaning of "in Christ". Abraham, as head of the family of faith, includes the whole family in himself. When Abraham offered to Melchizedek, the whole family offered "in Abraham". They did not offer separately as individuals, but were in him and so in making his offering he included with himself all his seed.
Now we have a new possibility. In Adam all was lost. Through the disobedience of one man we were all constituted sinners. By him sin entered and death through sin. The entire race is resigned to death from that day on. But now, through the obedience of One we may be constituted righteous. "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:19-21). Our despair is in Adam; Our hope is in Christ.
God's Way to Deliver
This, as the Word makes clear, should lead to our practical deliverance from sin. Here in Romans, Paul makes this plain in the opening of chapter 6. He says, "Are we to continue in sin?" His whole being recoils at the thought. "By no means!" How could a holy God be satisfied to have unholy, sin-fettered children? "How can we...sill live in it?" (Rom. 6:1,2). In light of this, God has surely made provision that we should be set free from sin's dominion.
But here is our problem. We were born sinners; how can we cut off our sinful heredity? Seeing that we were born "in Adam" how can we get out of Adam? It is important to say that the Blood cannot take us out of Adam. There is only one way. Since we came in by birth we must go out by death. To get rid of our sinfulness we must do away with our life. Bondage to sin came by birth; deliverance from sin comes by death - and this is just the way of escape that God has provided. Death is the secret of emancipation. "We...died to sin" (Rom. 5:2).
But how can we die? We try so hard to cut off our sinful lives but we find it persistent. What is the way out? It is not by trying to kill ourselves, but by recognizing that God has dealt with us in Christ. Paul sums it up in his next statement. "All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death" (Rom. 6:3). This leads us to another problem. If God deals with us "in Christ Jesus" then we must be in him for this to be effective. How are we to "get into" Christ? This will be one of the topics in our next post.
Mind boggling is it not? Death is the only deliverance from sin, but thank God that, as we will study next time, we were included in Christ Jesus; in his death and his resurrection from the dead. Until then praise God, who is wise beyond measure, that he has come up with such an amazing way to give us salvation and deliverance from sin.