Romansby David Cook
Preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls this section the core of the letter. Here, Paul sums up all that he has said about how God has released us from the penalty for sin. He shows that there were only ever two “camps” with two representatives—Adam (v. 14) and his counterpart, Jesus Christ (v. 15). We are represented either by the first Adam or the second Adam.
The first Adam, by an act of disobedience, brought condemnation and death to us all (vv. 16–17). The second Adam, however, brings grace and the gift of righteousness to His people (v. 17).
Paul also shows that the way we are justified parallels the way we were condemned (vv. 18–19). Adam trespassed and we were all condemned (v. 18). Christ obeyed and we were all justified (v. 18). The act of the one renders the many either condemned or justified.
How were we condemned? God imputed to us the disobedience of our representative head, Adam. Before we had actually sinned, Adam’s sin was debited to our account. That is why people were condemned before sin was defined by Moses and the law (vv. 12–14). They were condemned because Adam’s sin was imputed to them.
The way we are condemned is, in the case of Christ and the believer, a pattern for our justification. All the righteousness and obedience of Christ was imputed to us. It was credited to our account and we were declared righteous (v. 19).
What then happened to all our debits—Adam’s trespass and our personal sin? It was reckoned to Christ’s account. He did not become actually sinful any more than we became actually perfect, but, as with a bookkeeping entry, our sin was debited to Him. He died to pay its penalty, and now His righteousness is credited to us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
When God looks at our account now, He sees only the accounted perfection of Jesus. Law defined sin and made it obvious, but God’s grace in the work of Christ is always sufficient to cover human sin and bring us, through credited righteousness, to eternal life (vv. 20–21).
It is through faith that we transfer from the camp of Adam (the camp of our birth) to the camp of Christ (the camp, according to John, of the children of God). The first camp is by birth, and the second by rebirth (John 1:12–13).
We are reminded in Romans 4:3 and 5:15 that God acts consistently in the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is thus one book of the one God. How does this affect your view of yourself as a believer, and of the Bible as God’s Word?