Paul spent the better part of three chapters showing us man’s desperate need for a savior. Any righteousness we can earn on our own is clearly inadequate to meet God’s standards. We need to acquire a righteousness equal to His in order to dwell in His presence. Thankfully such a righteousness is available. It was made so by the Lord Himself, and is imputed to us by faith in His completed work on the cross.
Peace and Joy
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Suffering is normally not a cause for rejoicing, but as believers we have a right to rejoice even then because we know that God is working everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) “Rejoice in the Lord always,” Paul said. “I will say it again. Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Notice how it says, “Christ died for the ungodly,” and, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul didn’t say, “Because you’re worthy” or even, “If you become worthy,” but simply, “Christ died for the ungodly … while we were still sinners.” Jesus died for us all, irrespective of our merit or worthiness, whether we accept it or not. How will those who’ve done so justify rejecting such a gift?
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:9-11)
Saved from God’s wrath. There’s that word “from” again. It first showed up in 1 Thes. 1:10 where Paul says we’re rescued “from” the coming wrath. The Greek word is “apo”. It denotes departure and separation, as the separation of a part from the whole, putting distance between them, both of place and of time. It’s used 671 times in the New Testament and overwhelmingly means “from” or “out of”. Before the coming wrath, those who are saved will be separated from those who aren’t. Separated by distance and time. That means we won’t be here when it happens. We’ve been justified (rendered righteous), we’ve been reconciled (returned to favor), and we’ve been saved (rescued from danger or destruction). Praise the Lord!
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:12-14)
There was only one commandment in Adam’s time, and he broke it. This brought death and allowed sin to enter the world. Even though the commandments were not yet given, and therefore sin was not being measured, sin was now in the world and all men sinned, so all men died.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15-17)
Though all men die because of one man’s sin, the Lord’s death does much more than simply restore man to life. Immeasurable blessings will accrue to those who receive God’s gift of grace, both in this life and the next.
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5: 18-21)
Adam’s single trespass wound up condemning all men. Then the Law was given to show us just how sinful we really are. But our Lord’s death brought a gift of grace sufficient to cover all our sins and endow us with a righteousness that’s equal to God’s own, qualifying us for eternal life with Him. (2 Cor. 5:21).
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.(Romans 6:1-7)
This gift of grace is not a license to sin. Quite the contrary, we’ve been freed from the bondage of sin. We can now choose to live a life pleasing to God, no longer slaves but free. As we sank beneath the baptismal waters our old selves died, and as we rose again we became a new creation with new potential and new possibilities. The old has gone, and the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17) Not will come, but has come. In the Lord’s eyes we’re now as righteous as He is with the power to live the life He’s always dreamed we’d live. A life that brings glory to Him and peace to us.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:8-14)
Only believers truly have this power of choice in their lives. Since we’ve been freed from bondage we can choose to live a life that unbelievers could never hope for, and we can do it without any fear of failure, aspiring to its highest levels, knowing that His grace is sufficient when we fall. No matter how big a disaster yesterday was, with each morning comes a new beginning, filled with promise.
Slaves to Righteousness
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:15-22)
The Dylan song goes, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve someone.” We can serve the god of this world who offers only death as a reward, or we can choose to serve the God of Life and receive an eternal portion of His abundance. Those are our only choices. The unbeliever looks back on his worldly life and longs for another chance, because he knows he’s gotten all he’s ever going to get. The believer looks forward to eternal life because he knows that the best is yet to come. Selah.