“Where sin abounded, grace abounded more” Rom. 5:20
We participate in God’s riches, not because we have earned it, but because Jesus paid for it on the cross. Our sin should have kept us eternally separated from God. On our own we can not keep from sinning. Yet God came seeking us. We are condemned to death, but he has commuted our sentence by dying in our place. Mercy and grace are freely given through one man.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure; not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing.
18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass [Adam] led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness [Jesus] leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by [Jesus’s] obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Often the child who has the most difficulty following rules is the first one to cry “foul” when another child breaks them. As children of creation, we shutter at the punishment administered to Adam for eating the forbidden fruit in the garden. It doesn’t seem fair that all suffer and die as a consequence of original sin. Yet, it doesn’t take long before each one of us recognizes our own failures. As one father said, “I didn’t believe in original sin until I had a child. No one has to teach my son to sin. It comes naturally.”
Although it seems harsh that death came into the world as a result of Adam’s sin, we are humbled to realize that eternal life was restored as a result of God’s own sacrifice. Jesus, who knew no sin, died. By believing in him, we too will participate in the final resurrection. It is naïve to think that we are “good enough” to go to heaven because we haven’t committed any major sins. We can point to our virtues and purposely avoid the big temptations. However, the purpose of the law was not to give us a check list for our righteousness, but to show us that no one could measure up.
When Jesus declared, “Anyone who looks at a woman has committed adultery in his own heart” (Matt.5:28), the bar was raised. Including secret thoughts, impure motives and failure to do what is right caused his disciples to ask, “Who then can be saved!” (Luke 18:26). Jesus responded: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26) The purpose of the law was to show us our sin so that we would understand the importance of grace., “Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God–something the law of Moses could never do.” (Acts 13:39)
Lord, when we are held to your standards, all of us fail. Rather than walking away from us, you participated in our humanity and took on death, even though, as a sinless man, you were not condemned to die. Your resurrection is the evidence we needed to believe that God loved the world. We humbly confess our need for grace and thank you for your sacrifice. Amen.