Romans 5:12 marks a major turn in Paul’s writing in the book of Romans. As we have already pointed out, this turn is a turn from sins to sin, from position to disposition, and from justification to sanctification, or we may say from salvation to life. After making such a turn, Paul begins to deal with our person instead of our behavior. In the first four and a half chapters of Romans Paul was concerned with man’s deeds, not with man himself, and the sinful acts of fallen man were covered comprehensively. We have been brought out of that fallen state into the realm of grace, where we may enjoy God. However, this was merely a change of state, realm, and position. As yet, there has been no change in man himself, in his nature or disposition. Although man’s deeds have been dealt with and his condition changed, man himself has not yet been touched.
Beginning with Romans 5:12, Paul deals with man himself. We must go beyond man’s condition, situation, environment, and estate, for all these things have been completely settled in the foregoing chapters. These problems have been solved, and man has been cleansed, forgiven, justified, and reconciled. The problem now in view is man himself. In no other portion of the Divine Word is man exposed as thoroughly as in Romans 5 through 8. In these four chapters man is acutely diagnosed by Paul. Paul seems to use every available spiritual instrument to diagnose the sickness of man.
What kind of man is exposed in this section of Romans? He is a man with sin in him, a man under the reign of death and, therefore, a man under God’s righteous judgment and condemnation. Man has been poisoned with the evil nature of Satan, stung by the poison of sin. Man himself is absolutely sinful, not only in his dreadful deeds, but also in his disposition and nature. As far as man’s being is concerned, man is thoroughly sinful. Sin is in man’s fallen body, and man is under the reign of death, judged and condemned by God. This is the diagnosis given in Romans 5 through 8.
Before I continue with Romans 6, I want to review the material we covered in the last part of Chapter 5—the two men, two acts and two results with the four reigning things. Although these matters were covered succinctly in message ten, it will perhaps benefit the reader if we approach them from another perspective.
I want now to make a clear and definite contrast between all that belongs to Adam and all that belongs to Christ. In order to do this we may use the terminology of debit and credit found in accounting. In accounting we have a debit column and a credit column. Based upon these columns, we may reckon or make an account. I am not the first to use the word account in regard to spiritual things, for the Apostle Paul, who was a good, heavenly accountant, used this term himself. Several times in the book of Romans Paul employs the word “reckon” which also means “put to account.” First, God reckoned Abraham’s faith as righteousness (4:3, 9, 22). When Abraham reacted to God by believing in Him, God, as the heavenly chief accountant, looked at the figures and seemed to say, “This faith of Abraham’s should be accounted as righteousness. I credit Abraham with righteousness.” Thus, God put righteousness in the credit column of Abraham’s account. Furthermore, Paul says that sin is not reckoned where there is no law (5:13). A better translation of this word is that sin is not put to account without law. To say that sin is not reckoned actually means that sin is not put to account. Without law sin existed, but was not entered into God’s accounting book. When we come to Romans 6, we must use our spiritual mathematics to do some accounting work (v. 11). Since we have been crucified with Christ and resurrected with Him, we must make an entry of this fact into our accounting book, that is, we must reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
Let us proceed to draw two columns, a debit column and a credit column, for Adam and Christ. The first item on the debit side of the ledger is Adam himself. Adam constitutes a great debit for us all. Under Adam, the second item is transgression, or, to use synonymous terms, offense or disobedience. As used in Romans 5, the words transgression, offense, and disobedience all refer to the same thing. They are used interchangeably to designate the fall of Adam. This fall caused a tremendous debit, which, when put in monetary terms, is an amount that runs into the billions. The third item in the debit column is sin, which came in through Adam’s transgression. According to Romans 5, judgment, the fourth debit item, follows the entrance of sin. God is a sober God. He is not only righteous, but also sober, always on the alert. God never sleeps. Immediately after Adam transgressed, God intervened and exercised judgment. Thus, judgment always follows sin. Do not think that you must wait until your death to be judged, for we all were judged in Adam six thousand years ago. We were judged before we were born. Thus, judgment is the fourth item in the debit column. The fifth item is condemnation. God’s condemnation follows His judgment. Therefore, Adam, with everyone included in him, is under God’s condemnation. Since we came out of Adam, we were there when Adam was condemned.
What is the total of the debit column? The total is death. We may list death as item number six, although actually it is the total of the first five items. The sum total of Adam, transgression, sin, judgment, and condemnation is death. This is the total of the universal debit column in the accounting record of the human race.
Hallelujah for the credit column! In the universal account we also have a credit column. The first item in this column is Christ who is versus Adam. Although Christ is versus Adam, there is no comparison between them. Paul says, “Not as the offense, so also is the free gift” (5:15). Adam is not as Christ, for Adam cannot compare with Christ. Christ far surpasses Adam. When Christ’s record is placed on the credit column, it is followed by billions of zeros. I am so glad that all of this is now our credit. I do not care about Adam’s debit. I have Christ.
Under Christ we have the second item in the credit column, obedience. Christ’s obedience to the death of the cross is called His righteous act. The two terms obedience and righteous act are synonymous. The act of Adam is called transgression, offense, and disobedience; the act of Christ is called obedience or a righteous act. What is the worth of Christ’s obedience? There is no computer in existence that can calculate it.
As Christ’s obedience and righteousness are versus Adam’s disobedience and transgression, so also grace is versus sin. Hence, grace is the third item on the credit column. Which is more prevailing, sin or grace? Paul tells us clearly that there is no comparison, for “where sin abounded grace has more abounded” (5:20). To what degree does grace exceed sin? I do not know, and even Paul himself simply said that it was “much more.” Do not worry about the debit of sin, because the credit of grace is much more (5:17).
We have seen that judgment is the fourth item on the debit column. What item on the credit column corresponds to this? The item that is versus judgment is the gift of righteousness (5:17). Perhaps you have never understood this. What does the word gift mean in Romans 5? Some will say that it means speaking in tongues or other miraculous gifts. However, if you read Romans 5, you will see that the gift mentioned there is the righteousness of God. Romans 5:17 speaks of the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness. God’s grace has been unveiled, coming to us and giving us a free gift—the righteousness of God. If you read Romans 5 again and again, you will see that this is so, that the gift in Romans 5 is the very righteousness given to us by God’s grace. As we have seen, grace is God Himself as our enjoyment. Out of this enjoyment, this grace, the righteousness of God is given to us as our gift. Out of sin came judgment, and out of grace comes righteousness. Thus, righteousness is versus judgment. As long as you have the righteousness of God, you are not under judgment. Righteousness erases judgment. If I have the righteousness of God, how can you judge me? I am as righteous as God is. As long as we have the gift of righteousness, judgment is impossible.
Following the gift of righteousness, we have justification, which is versus condemnation. Therefore, we have five items in the credit column. The total of these items is life, which can also be considered as the sixth item.
Let us balance our account. We have death as the total on the debit side and life as the total on the credit side. Which is greater? Certainly the answer is life. However, this life is not our physical life (bios, Luke 8:14) or our soulish life (psuche, Matt. 16:25, 26; John 12:25); it refers to the divine, eternal, uncreated, and unlimited life of God that swallows up death (zoe, John 11:25; 14:6; Col. 3:4). This life is Christ Himself as our resurrection life. Thus, the total on the credit side far outweighs the total on the debit side.
With all of this as a foundation, we may now proceed to Romans 6. If we do not have Romans 5 as a foundation, we can never be clear about Romans 6. It is no longer a question of two situations or two states; it is a question of two persons, two men. The first man is Adam with all the debits, and the second man is Christ with all the credits. To which person do you belong?
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