When you consider how you still sin and fall short of the glory of God and burden of guilt weighs upon you. When you get depressed and think, I’ll never make it to heaven. I still fall and stumble. Remember the double-obedience of Christ! He not only died to take away the penalty for your sin, but he lived to earn your righteousness. You stand in him, not in yourself.
There are many reality shows that end with a staggering renovation. Imagine if they just showed us the end result and never showed the mess they found in the beginning? The beauty of the work is perceived through the lenses of contrast. Without seeing the before picture it’s hard to appreciate what you find as a result of the work.
The Apostle Paul engages in contrast in Romans 5 as he lines up two key men in the history of the world. It’s like he runs a magnet over all the people who ever lived, and two emerge above the rest. They are Adam and Jesus.
When he contrasts Adam and Jesus, what does he find? The primary areas of contrast involve what each one did and the results of what they did. In other words, there are actions and results. And what we find when we contrast Adam and Jesus is this: there are parallels but there are also contradictions.
The Contrast of What Each Did
When we look at Adam, we see that his actions could be summarized by the word: disobedience. Here we are talking about the act of defiance in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3). In Romans 5, Paul labels it with three words, trespassing (15, 16 (x2), 17, 18), sin (12, 14, 16), and disobedience (19). But in contrast to the first Adam, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus is described in terms of righteousness (18) and obedience (19). In these two words, we find Jesus perfectly obeying God’s Law. We know that Jesus never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). He always did what was pleasing to his Father (John 8:29). When looking at the law, his job was to fulfill it perfectly (Matt. 3:15). In the Garden of Gethsemane, he declared, “not my will but your will be done” (Matt. 26:42). The contrast is stark. Adam disobeyed God’s Law and Jesus obeyed it perfectly.
The Contrast of What Each Brought
What is the result of their actions? In a word, Adam brought judgment. We see the result of his action was death (12, 14, 15, 16). When the Bible talks about death it certainly has in mind physical death. All we have to do is read Genesis 5 and see the long obituary of death; person after person died. The cemeteries today testify to the enduring sentence of physical death. But there’s also another element to this death, it’s spiritual death. Spiritual death has to do with a fractured relationship with God. It’s characterized by alienation or separation from God and an inability to be close and intimate with God. Paul says that the condition of all people apart from Christ is spiritual death (Eph. 2:1). There’s a third component, eternal death. The Book of Revelation refers to this as the Second Death, or the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). This is God’s final judgment upon humanity. This is why Paul refers to judgment and condemnation (16 & 18).
In short: the result of Adam’s sin is death, condemnation, and eternal judgment. This is horrible.
But it’s a contrast.