Romans 5:12-21 – Week 7
On January 19, 2020 all of our lives took a turn because of one unidentified 35 year old man who returned to his home near Seattle, Washington. He had recently travelled to Wuhan, China and within days after returning to the U.S. he went to an urgent care clinic complaining of a cough, fever, nausea and vomiting. He tested positive for COVID-19 and became the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed.
Following this man’s hospitalization, Seattle was named as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. And that was just the beginning. The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. alone now stands at 44.6 million.
Since that day in January 2020, each and every person’s life in the United States (as well as the entire world) has been affected in some way. Whether or not you’ve had the virus itself, whether or not you’ve had the vaccine, your life has been altered. Not one person can truthfully say that the pandemic has not affected their life.
A pandemic is defined as “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease over a whole country or the world at a particular time”.
We’ve spent the last 22 months bewildered, confused, astonished, frightened, apprehensive and cautious because we were living in the midst of a destructive, dangerous, life-threatening pandemic. I’ll never forget the phone conversation I had with my father-in-law the day that everything really began to shut down. I asked if he had ever experienced anything like this in his 80 years, and he solemnly said, “No, I haven’t.” I wanted to hear him say that, yes, this COVID pandemic reminded him of something from years back and that it was short-term and not as bad as predicted. I wanted encouragement. I wanted that reassurance that even in the midst of a pandemic, we’d be okay.
The pandemic consumed us like a thick fog. We’ve lived in an acute state of alertness, watching the news, reading all of the updates and monitoring the daily statistics. I can’t help but wonder what that 35 year old man in Seattle thought as he watched the news each day. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not blaming this man for the outbreak in the United States. I don’t believe that it has been proven that it all goes back to him. But with him being labeled as the first confirmed case in the U.S., was he riddled with guilt or concern as this vicious virus began to stretch out its tentacles to other communities, other states? Was it his one simple act of visiting another country that caused a domino effect that he could have never imagined?
As a result of this widespread threat, we guarded our health by wearing masks, frequently washing our hands, using hand sanitizer, taking vitamins, and avoiding public areas as much as possible. We did this because no one was immune. In the beginning, certain people were thought to be more susceptible, but we quickly learned that that all of us were vulnerable. The pandemic affected us all.
Let’s stop and think for a moment. Haven’t we been living in a pandemic since the days of Adam and Eve? If a pandemic is defined as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease over the world, then how could sinfulness not be classified as a pandemic? Sin is certainly widespread. Sin is most definitely infectious. And I don’t think that any of us could deny that sin is a disease of which we need healing.
Romans 5:12 ICB “12 Sin came into the world because of what one man did. And with sin came death. And this is why all men must die—because all men sinned.”
We all know the identity of the one man to whom Paul is referring. Adam, of course. And you might be thinking to yourself, “Well yeah, Adam was there, but he simply took a bite that was offered to him by Eve.” But scripture reveals that God spoke directly to Adam and gave specific instructions to Adam that the fruit from tree of knowledge of good and evil must not be eaten. And God was pretty clear about the consequences of disobeying Him.
Genesis 2:16-17 HCBSB “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.’
By defying God’s instruction and taking that bite, Adam opened up the floodgate allowing sin and death to enter this world. That one bite, that one taste that one man did placed all of us into a pandemic. As children of Adam, we are born with a sinful nature which automatically condemns us, declares us guilty of sin and subject to death.
David writes in Psalm 51: 5 TLB, “But I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”
When you look at a newborn, you don’t see a sinner. When they are just beginning to crawl and babble, you don’t see sinful behavior. But as children spend more time on earth, little fragments of sin begin to show. Telling lies, throwing tantrums, hitting, biting, selfishness. Although we know that we are made in the likeness of God, we’ve also inherited sinfulness from Adam. From Adam to us, sinfulness has disfigured our likeness of God.
You know the sad part of it all? Adam had been given one rule to follow. That was it. When the law was given to Moses, there were more than 600! Adam had one requirement. And had it been kept and followed, the world would be completely different than we know it to be.
Romans 5:13-14 TLB “We know that it was Adam’s sin that caused this because although, of course, people were sinning from the time of Adam until Moses, God did not in those days judge them guilty of death for breaking his laws—because he had not yet given his laws to them nor told them what he wanted them to do. 14 So when their bodies died it was not for their own sins since they themselves had never disobeyed God’s special law against eating the forbidden fruit, as Adam had.”
From the time of Adam to the days of Moses when he was given the laws was more than 2,500 years! Even though there were no laws during that period, there was still right and wrong. There was still sinfulness. We don’t have to go too far from Adam to see that. His first two sons, Cain and Abel are proof. There was rivalry, jealousy, selfishness, trickery, manipulation, murder and lying. There weren’t any laws against these things at the time, but that didn’t mean they weren’t sins. God even tried to warn Cain ahead of time.
Genesis 4:4 EHV “The Lord looked favorably on Abel and his offering, 5 but he did not look favorably on Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and his face showed it.
6 The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why do you have that angry look on your face? 7 If you do good, will you not be lifted up? If you do not do good, sin is crouching at the door. It has a strong desire for you, but you must rule over it.’ “
That description of sin crouching at the door is a great reminder of how cunning and near sin is to us. It’s everywhere. In thinking back to the first few weeks of the COVID shutdown, we were being shown pictures of common items and how contaminated with germs those items could be. Door handles, gas pumps, grocery cart handles, vending machines, sink faucets. Nothing was safe without disinfecting it before touching. We became more thoughtful about touching anything including our own eyes and noses because the virus could be crouching anywhere. Ready to infect us.
We had many people who thought that COVID wasn’t anything more than the flu or any other virus and certainly didn’t warrant the level of concern we were seeing. They voiced their opinion that the whole world was overreacting. There are still some of those people out there even all of these months later. For some of them it took either themselves or a family member to suffer the consequences of having COVID for them to take it seriously and to protect themselves from further contamination.
We have those same kind of people who regard sin in the same manner. They don’t take sin seriously. “It’s not a big deal.” “It’s a little white lie.” “It was a small indiscretion.” “Everybody else does it.” It’s not until the infection of sin sets in and starts to take over little by little and corroding their life that they start to understand the seriousness of sinfulness and the danger that it brings. Do you know who those people are? Look to your right and your left. Look right at me. It’s every last one of us. We belittle our sinfulness. We overlook the fact that with sin came death. And for us, not just any death.
What we inherited in the garden was disinherited at the cross.
Romans 5:14 ERV “That one man, Adam, can be compared to Christ, the one who was coming in the future. 15 But God’s free gift is not like Adam’s sin. Many people died because of the sin of that one man. But the grace that people received from God was much greater. Many received God’s gift of life by the grace of this other man, Jesus Christ.”
From that one man named Adam we gained sin, guilt, shame, death.
But from that one man named Jesus Christ, we gained justification, righteousness, grace, life. What we gained from Adam doesn’t even come close to equal what we gained from Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:22 ICB “22 In Adam all of us die. In the same way, in Christ all of us will be made alive again.”
Death reigned. Death was king. Death had dominion. All because of sin. All because of one man named Adam.
But death was defeated. Death was dethroned. Death was conquered. All because of grace. All because of one Man named Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15: 55-57 HCSB “Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Our death sentence was overturned, our day of execution was cancelled the day we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Romans 5:16 ERV “After Adam sinned once, he was judged guilty. But the gift of God is different. His free gift came after many sins, and it makes people right with him. 17 One man sinned, and so death ruled all people because of that one man. But now some people accept God’s full grace and his great gift of being made right. Surely they will have true life and rule through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 So that one sin of Adam brought the punishment of death to all people. But in the same way, Christ did something so good that it makes all people right with God. And that brings them true life. 19 One man disobeyed God and many became sinners. But in the same way, one man obeyed God and many will be made right. 20 The law was brought in so that more people would sin the way Adam did. But where sin increased, there was even more of God’s grace. 21 Sin once used death to rule us. But God gave us more of his grace so that grace could rule by making us right with him. And this brings us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Warren W. Wiersbe has this to say about grace. “Grace was not an addition to God’s plan; grace was part of God’s plan from the very beginning. God dealt with Adam and Eve in grace; He dealt with the patriarchs in grace; and He dealt with the nation of Israel in grace. He gave the law through Moses, not to replace His grace, but to reveal man’s need for grace. Law was temporary, but grace is eternal.”[i]
The news that we got in January 2020 of that one man in the United States having COVID made us more alert, more cautious, more thoughtful about where we went, who we were around, what we touched for the threat of serious illness and possible death was crouching at the door.
Oh if we’d only have that same kind of alertness and concern about sin.
1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
We’ve become accustomed to putting on our masks, washing our hands, being careful about our surroundings in order to protect us from the COVID pandemic. Likewise, we need to put on the full armor of God in order to protect us from the pandemic of sin. Death no longer has power over us, but we certainly need to keep ourselves from becoming infected with sin as much as possible.
Some of us have been diagnosed with COVID and the symptoms or consequences were mild and short-lived. Others have been diagnosed with COVID and still have lingering side effects or consequences even months later. Sadly, some have been diagnosed and have fought to stay alive and those who do survive will never be the same again. Sinfulness has the same levels of consequences. That’s why we must be diligent in protecting ourselves from being infected.
“As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon[ii]
[i] Be Right by Warren W. Wiersbe
Temptation is not wrong; falling into temptation is wrong.
We are easily deceived in thinking we are not sinful. That’s just what Satan wants us to think.