Paul continues from the point of our having been reconciled and delivered from the wrath of God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come” (Rom 5:12-14).
This is challenging. By lying to God, Adam committed a sin far worse than anyone up to the time of Moses and God’s declaring the Law of Moses. As a result, death ruled over all who lived up to the time of Moses. Yet, Adam, as created before he sinned in the Garden of Eden was a “type,” that is, a model of the one to come – Jesus, the Son of God!
How is all this related? What is Paul telling us? When the answer is not obvious yet, it is best to keep on reading:
“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:15-17).
At the bottom line, this is a direct comparison between the result of disunity from God in sin and unity with God as the result of faith.
Adam sinned just once and brought death over all the subsequent generations through the time of Moses and beyond. By contrast, when the free gift arrived, wrapped in rags in a humble manger, sins were forgiven and all who believe in him find justification before God and protection from God’s wrath.
In terms of the Cycle of Perfect Unity, since the birth of Christ, those who repent encounter the never-ending love of God, which leads to forgiveness and restoration in perfect unity with God.
Simply put, the free gift is grace and a personal relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Now Paul’s language is easier to understand:
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 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. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but 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 5:18-21).
What does the world see in you? Is it a peace that passes all understanding? I hope so!
Try memorizing these nine words straight from the pen of Paul to summarize your unity with God!