Jack Graham - Reigning In Life
Take your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 5. This is THE ESSENTIAL GOSPEL series, the Book of Romans, and the title of this message is "Reigning in Life". And we begin with the text, chapter 5 of Romans, verses 12 through 21, here we go, "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. But the free gift (this gift of salvation in Christ) is not like the trespass (not like the sin), much more", key phrase that appears multiple times in this passage. Much more, much more, much more we have this gift.
"For if many died", verse 15, "through one man's trespass, much more we have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace 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. 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 that the many will be made righteous. Now the law came to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded much more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord".
This is the tale, the story of two men. One man Adam sinned and death reigned. The other man, the other Adam, the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, He obeyed and righteously returned and restored life to all who believe in Him, and thus life reigns. So important, this passage; it's key, it's critical to understanding the whole message of salvation in Christ. This story of two men, Adam and Christ. It's all about the grace of God, the grace that abounds. Several years ago, Deb and I, along with a group from our church went on a trip called "The Journeys of Paul", and we ended up in the Aegean Sea and at the Isle of Mykonos which Paul actually visited as accorded in the book of Acts. And for this Texas boy who pretty much grew up land-locked, besides a few big lakes, I had never seen anything as beautiful as the deep blue waters and the Island of Mykonos.
I believe it’s the most beautiful sight that I’ve ever seen. The wonders of God’s creation and majesty as viewed there. The water is bluer than blue. In fact, when we first saw it, Deb said, "It looks as though God created it and then said to the angels, 'Make it bluer.' Bluer than blue"! And so magnificent. It’s a wonder of God’s creation. But when we look at the wonder of God's grace, it is greater still. Grace that is greater, grace that abounds, grace that is much more is "gracier" than grace! It's bluer than blue! And Romans describes this gift, this grace that has been given to all who come to Christ. It is the grandeur of grace, it is the majesty of God's mercy. It is the wonder of His love for us. And it is this grace that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ that changes everything! No wonder we sing about heaven and say, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun; we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun".
This grace! And in Romans, in the riches of Romans we are savoring, tasting on this side of heaven the grace of God, and it' tastes so good. Now there are many things in this world we know are not right. Not as God intended for it to be. We're in a fight for our lives. We are facing sin and temptation and flaws and failures and conflicts and challenges and hate and war, and all the rest. We see a world that's in trouble and we wonder what's wrong, what's happened? Why do we have so much pain and so much suffering? The age-old question of evil and suffering. And philosophers and preachers and theologians and all of us have wondered about this. I've wondered many times why God allows tragedy and tears that are so hurtful and so painful? Why do people die? Why is there so much pain? The Bible speaks of "the mystery of iniquity".
There're some things this side of eternity we'll never understand, we'll never know apart from what God tells us in His Word. And certainly iniquity, or evil, sin is a mystery. God is real! But so is sin and so is suffering and so is death. We see it everywhere. And you can't expel it; you can't extinguish it. You can extend life but you can't extinguish death. It is a reality. You can’t chase it away with positive thoughts, or just optimistic thinking. Because the reality is we’re dealing with death every day. And the only answer that we have really and completely, is found in our text. What we just read is a description of what happened when the first man Adam rebelled against God, and as a result of his rebellion, creation was ruined.
Look at chapter 5, verse 12 once again, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned". So it all comes down initially to one man. Think about of the 6 billion plus people that are now living on the earth, or there abouts, and the billions of people that have lived before in all of the stream of history and humanity, one individual is singled out, and then another as two solitary figures that tell the story of the human race: our past, our present and our future. The story of these two men Adam and Christ, tell the story of all of us. And the first thing that I want you to notice here is this: If you are in Adam, you are living under the reign of death. If you are in Adam, and we are all born into Adam, we live under the tyranny of death, because sin, according to the Scripture, entered the world through one man.
Of course, we turn to the book of Genesis, the first 3 chapters, and we read of the creation of everything, including the first man and the first woman. We meet Adam and his wife Eve, and they're living in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of creation, at the dawn of time. And Adam and Eve were living together in a glorious garden given to them by God Himself. A perfect paradise. Life was good; life was with God, as Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden in perfect friendship and fellowship. Now it's clear in the Bible that Adam and Eve are real people. If you had been there in the Garden of Eden, you could have taken a selfie with them. They are not myths; this is not mythology; this is not fiction according to God's Word. Jesus Himself said, "In the beginning God created them male and female, Adam and Eve".
You tell me what you believe about the first three chapters of the Bible and I can pretty tell, much tell you what you will believe about the rest of the Bible. Because these first three chapters of the Bible describing the creation, and then the fall of mankind describes the message and the mission of the rest of the Bible. Two people, Adam and Eve, living in intimacy and innocence in a perfect world with a perfect God. And there was no sin. There was, therefore, no shame and no suffering or guilt or pain or problems. They had the whole world, think about it, to themselves. It all belonged to them because God gave it. They lived in this pristine wondrous, lovely, bluer than blue world that God had prepared. A world unspoiled; a world without chaos, a world without violence, a world without sickness, a world without death! Life was without limits! They reigned.
God gave them authority over the Garden and all of the earth. God gave them everything, but with one warning: God said, "There is a tree; it's the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And don't eat the fruit which is forbidden". It was a testing tree. And God specifically said to them, "Don't eat of this fruit". Adam and Eve were made in God’s image, but they were not machines. They were not existing on artificial intelligence of some kind. God gave them a choice; God gave them a will, and they were free to choose whether to continue to love God and walk with God in perfect harmony and health, or to reject God and die. Because God said, "If you do eat of the fruit of this tree, you will die! You will die"! And the terrible tragedy is that Eve was deceived by the serpent, the snake.
Now don’t freak out about the snake, because the snake literally translated in the Hebrew language means the shining one, the serpent, the snake, the shining one. And this, of course, is the devil himself. Sin did not begin, rebellion did not begin in the Garden of Eden. Sin and rebellion against God began in heaven before time began when Lucifer the son of the morning, a beautiful angel of God, according to Isaiah 14. You can look this up later. Or Ezekiel chapter 28. This beautiful shining one, this glorious being, an angel created by God rose up in rebellion against God and said, "I will exalt myself above the throne of God. I will be like the Most High". And with this revolt in heaven, that first sin was the sin of pride and with it, Satan was cast out of heaven, according to the Bible, and with him one third of the heavenly host. Which these angels, fallen now, become the demonic forces united around Satan and his plot to overthrow the power of God.
So before the Garden, with God in heaven there was this revolt. Before there was rebellion on earth, there was revolt in heaven, when the morning star as he is called, the shining one became the father of the night. And this began a cosmic battle between God and Satan, good and evil, light and darkness. Satan whose M.O. has always been to overthrow and undermine the authority of God, now slinks into the Garden. Jesus said, "He’s the father of lies". And he comes into the Garden with Adam and Eve and he tells a big one, a big lie. Satan says you can’t believe God. "Has God said you will die? Surely not". He also questioned the goodness of God, in that he said, "God’s holding out on you. There’s so much more. If you eat of this fruit of this tree in this Garden, you will be like the Most High". There’s that sin again. "You will be like God Himself. You will not die. God knows that your eyes will be opened. You will be like Him". And the fruit of the tree is delicious.
The Scripture says when Eve saw it, that it was good for food; it was delightful. Satan said, "Taste it, take it and you will become as God". This is the ultimate case, the early case of FOMO. You know what that is? FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. But this isn't the fear of missing out on somebody you have on Instagram who's taking a better vacation than you. But we all live with this instinct that we might miss something. We've all heard this voice whispering, "If you live God's way, if you obey God and do what God says to do, you're going to be missing out! You're going to be missing out on all the fun, all the pleasure. After all, one bite's not so bad. Just a little taste". Or "God didn't really mean it. All these commandments and all this that's said in the Bible, that's up for interpretation. God didn't really mean it". Or "God is not good. He doesn't really love you; God doesn't love you".
That's what Satan said to Adam and to Eve, and the strategy is still the same. FOMO, the fear of missing out. And we are fatally attracted to something else, or to want something more, something better. Remember, they had everything! Everything was theirs to enjoy, but the fear of missing out, "Maybe we’re missing something here; maybe God is not telling us the truth". And so Eve was deceived and Adam disobeyed. They gambled with humanity and lost. Every gambler knows the instinct to risk more. And these two gambled with God and they lost and they died. They were filled with guilt and shame. They began running and hiding from God. Why? Because as the Scripture says, we read it, sin has now entered the world. Sin came into the world. And with sin came shame, they knew that they were naked. They were clothing themselves with fig leaves. They were hiding from God. Then came sorrow, then came suffering.
One of their own sons killed his brother. Then came death, because the germ of sin is now released into the world. And sin had become a part of our DNA. Death and hell is unleashed, and heaven and earth could not stop it. Because the deed was done and death is now the reality. Certainly, there’s physical death, though Adam and Eve lived many years after their sin, ultimately death came and blood was spilled, and violence became a reality. Death is a reality. No excepts! We've seen a lot of data over the last years or so, haven't we, regarding COVID and how many have died. And we grieve all who have died and all who have been sick. The reality is, there's another data that is absolutely clear all the time and that is one out of one persons die. One hundred percent! It's sort of like the undertaker.
The funeral director who always signs his letters "Eventually yours". Because mankind is wrecked and ruined by sin. Adam died and we cried because the impact, the influence of Adam's sin brought sin into the lives of all, and we are reaping the results of one act of terrible trespassing against God. Disobedience as described here. Romans 6:23 says "The wages of sin is death". So death is physical. From the day we arrive here, the day we arrive, crying, someone pops us on the backside and we begin crying. And we begin dying in one sense. Every step we take moves us one step closer to the grave! Every generation dies! And because of sin we not only die physically, but we die spiritually. The Bible says, "The soul that sins it will surely die". Why? Because sin separates us from God. What is death? It is spiritual death.
Isaiah 59, and verse 2 puts it this way: "But your iniquities (sin) have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear". Sin separates us from God. That’s the tragedy of sin. That’s the judgment of sin. Now if you've been around your Bible a while, you know that this entire message, the discussion we're having right now is about original sin. Ever heard that term? Or those two words? Original sin. That because of the one sin, the original sin of Adam, the entire human race has been plunged into judgment. This is why we are broken. He is viewed as the federal head of the race, if you will. He is representative of the race of humankind. It's also described as Adam is seminal to the human race. Seminal in the sense that now our genes, our DNA is contaminated by the sin of Adam. That's why in Adam all die! We are born as sons of Adam! I want to clear something up. Are you listening? You might put your thinking cap on today.
I want to clear something up. You often hear you are made in the image of God, and in fact, in the beginning at creation Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. Bearing the image of God. Intellect, will, strength, power. Some of the image of God. We are born in the image, man is born in the image of God. Got it? Say, "good". All right. So far, so good. But what happened? The man born in the image of God defaced and destroyed that image! He is no longer a son of God, he's the son of man, and so are we. You are not born in the image of God; you are born in the image of Adam! The image of God has been destroyed; defaced; damaged severely. We are wrecked. By your first birth you are born in the image of Adam. That is why it takes a second birth that you would be born in the image of the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ; that you would be born again. But don't say, don't think everyone's born in the image of God. That everyone's a child of God. No! You are a child of Adam!
You say, "Well, God created us all, didn't He"? Well, God also created rats and buzzards and cockroaches! They're not the children of God! And neither are we by our first birth! We are born the sons of Adam. Listen to, mark these verses down; jot them down, look them up later, but we're going to put them up for you: Psalm 58, and verse 3: "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go forth astray from birth, speaking lies". This is why you don’t have to tell your little darling child to lie; you have to teach them not to lie. Correct? Because everyone goes forth from the womb naturally speaking lies, committing sin. And then Psalm 51, and verse 5: David said, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother did conceive me". He's not talking there about any kind of sin of illegitimacy, and no children are illegitimate, by the way.
Parents can be illegitimate, but not children. But we go forth because of iniquity out of our mother's womb in sin at the very at the very outset of conception, "in sin did my mother conceive me". In other words, we commit sins because we are sinners! We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners! You're not a liar because you tell lies; you lie because you're a liar! I know that may not be all that polite or politically correct, but the question is: are you going to believe the Bible or not? We steal, we're thieves not because we steal, we steal because we are thieves. This is the clear teaching of original sin. In Adam, death is reigning and ruling. We're all paying the price. Say, I know what you're thinking. "Well, that's not fair. I wasn't there. I wasn't anywhere near the Garden of Eden. That's on Adam! That's not on me"!
I thought about a football team. You line up, you run a great play and you look on the ground and there’s a penalty flag because one offensive lineman was in motion and the entire team gets penalized because of the penalty of one guy. Now magnify that times eternity! And because of the sin of Adam, we are defeated, and death reigns. In Adam we die. That’s all the bad news. That's why there's suffering. Had there been no sin, there would have been no suffering. Had there been no suffering, there would have been no death, no sickness, no illness, no death. This is the "big why" answer. This is how it happened. We can't understand it all, but in every person born to sin there is death. And death wins! That’s why we chase sin like my two beagle dogs are chasing rabbits right now.
Last evening Deb and I were outside enjoying the evening and our two boys Deuce and Yogi have been doing this all their lives. Pick up a rabbit trail in our yard. You seen the little rabbits running around? Well, Deuce and Yogi live to catch and kill (I’m sorry to say) a little rabbit. It’s only happened a time or two. It’s not pretty when it happens. They’re slowing down a little bit, but their 13-14 years old and they’re still instinctively chasing rabbits. A squirrel can walk right by them, at the front of their nose and they won’t even flinch. But a scent of a rabbit drives them nuts! We're dominated and controlled by sin instinctively. This is who we are; this is what we do. But, thank God, this isn't the end of the story. That's the first Adam.
But the Bible tells us, look at it again, look at it again in chapter 5. Let's start at verse 15. I want you to see it again. "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 God", and one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. Are you listening? Jesus recovered far more than Adam lost! Much more! According to verse 17, "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 one man Jesus Christ", verse 18, "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification of all men".
Let's compare the two. Remember, I said it's the story of two men, the tale of two men: Adam and Christ. The first Adam and the second Adam. One Adam, a sinner; the other, the second Adam, sinless! One who brought death to the world; the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ who brings life to the world! One who acted in disobedience to God; and the other who obeyed the will of the Father. One who brought judgment upon every person on the face of the planet, and the other, Jesus, the second Adam who brought justification and the gift of righteousness. One Adam who wanted to be God; and the other, the second Adam, Jesus who is God! One who sinned at the tree; Adam sinned at a tree. But the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ bore our sins on the tree! He died on the cross! Adam died a sinner but Jesus died for sinners; the Savior.
In Adam we all live under the reign, the domination, the control of death. But in Christ we now reign in life and in eternity! We now live. In Christ we spend eternity with the One who reigns forever and ever and ever! The second Adam, He was faced with the same kind of temptation as Adam. Not in a garden, but in a desert. And Satan came after Jesus who was emaciated and weak from 40 days of fasting in the desert, the wilderness of Judea. And Satan came to Him with all the ammunition of hell, doing the same thing that he did in the Garden, but this time to the second Adam, and the second Adam heard all the temptation, "Turn these stones into bread and you'll be satisfied! There's more; God's holding out on You! You don't have to fast and starve here in the desert". He said, "Bow down before me and You can have all the kingdoms of this world".
All the doubting of the goodness of God and the grace of God was unleashed upon the second Adam, our Savior Jesus. And in the power of God’s word, Jesus resisted and Jesus overcame sin and sorrow and death, and ultimately, He did go to the cross and as the second Adam, He took the sins of all of the Adams and Eves in history that sinned against Him. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". And now we live reigning in life.
We have authority; we have what my dear brother and mentor, Dr. Adrian Rogers used to call "kingdom authority"! We are now in the kingdom of God! We are born again unto a living hope! Here’s what it says about Jesus in this living hope. In 2 Timothy 1:10. Look at on the screen: "In which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel". The second Adam means that we can reign in life because God has given us grace greater than our sin. Grace greater. "Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds".
There is no sin but that God is greater still; that His love and His mercy pours out on us and gives us then what? A new nature. We now no longer have the nature of Adam. Oh, we still live in human bodies and we're going to battle sin and temptation. But now we have authority over these in Jesus' name. Now in the second Adam, in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17 "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away and everything has become new".
You are brand-new in Jesus. You are born again from above. You are no longer living under the reign of death that will destroy, but you're living under the reign of life and we have authority and victory in life and one day we get to see Jesus who did it all for you and me. We're no longer living in guilt and shame because we have been forgiven fully. And as the song says, "He turns graves into gardens". And so the question is today: Are you in Adam under the reign of death, facing judgment and hell and eternal separation from God? Or are you in the second Adam, are you in Christ, living and reigning in life, fully forgiven and forever His, eternally a child of God?