Tony Evans — Ruling by Grace (Fathers Day Greeting)
Every Christian, everyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as their personal substitute and has come by faith alone to Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins and for the gift of eternal life, has a crown. That is, every Christian has been designed to reign. Look again at verse 17 of Romans 5, "For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through One, Jesus Christ".
To reign is to rule. To reign is to exercise dominion, so every Christian has a crown on their, head because you now belong to the family of God. You are a son or daughter of the King, and, therefore, every Christian is designed to be crowned. You're not saved merely to go to heaven one day. You're saved to rule on earth. He says that you might "rule in life". According to the Apostle Paul, this grace, when understood and moved in properly, provides the ability to rule or, as he calls it in verse 17, "to reign".
You are supposed to now, I am supposed to now, be in charge of life, of the life that God has given you and me. The eternal life that we possess, even now, is designed to give us the ability to rule. The more grace you understand and operate out of, the more power and victory you will experience. The less grace you understand and operate out of, the more defeat you will experience. So grace is designed to give you victory, to give you the right to rule. Grace is made the opposite of law. Law is my attempt to keep God's rules. The law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, you kept this to get blessing or the failure to get cursing. Not so under grace. Grace is my response to the favor of God in my life.
He says law makes him worse, "but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more," in verse 20. So grace is greater than law. "Sin reigned in death," verse 21, "even so grace would reign in life". "Reign" is "to rule". God wants you to be crowned as a ruler of life, not as a reactionary to life, which means that any sin or illegitimate circumstance no longer has the right to rule you. Grace is the key to abounding. He uses the word "abounding," that is, "overriding".
Now, to understand this grace and this masterful, theological passage, he says you only have to understand two people, so all of life walls around two people. You will notice, when we read it, he compares the one, Adam, with the other one, Jesus Christ. All of history boils down to two people. In Adam, all die. In Christ, you're made alive. So to put it in everyday language, you are the result of the ancestor to which you identify. Our lives are wrapped up into two ancestors. He says, with the one ancestor, Adam, death ruled, and death spread due to sin. Now, that can create some consternation because you might say, "Well, that's not fair that I should die physically and spiritually because of what my ancestor Adam did".
Well, let me give you two responses to that. First of all is a team response. When an offensive lineman for the Cowboys jumps offside, he's not the one, alone, given a 10-yard penalty. The whole team has to regress 10 yards because his individual act is associated with a group connection. He is connected in group even though he committed the infraction. You and I are connected to the human race group. Adam, which comes from the word "earth," is the ancestor of us all. We're all part of that group, so when he jumped offside, the human race became penalized as he was the father of the race, and as a result, death reigned.
That is, it went throughout his whole genealogical record of humanity. But I could hear someone say, "But I still don't think that that's fair. I didn't ask to be on his team". Well, verse 12 goes on to say, "Death spread to all men," and then it says, "because all sinned". So not only did Adam jump offside, when you had your chance, you jumped offside too. So even if you don't like the Adamic connection, just left on your own, left on my own, we have repeated the sin of our father Adam, in our own unique way, so unless you're here and you are perfect, then the whistle has been blown on your infraction and my infraction, against the standard of God.
So it's the problem of our ancestry, and it's the problem of our action, and death reigned. It became inescapable. Now, in the Bible, the word "death" means "separation," not "cessation". It doesn't mean you no longer exist. It means you are now separated from something you should be united with. Every person is made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. Because of sin, all three died. The spirit died so that there was no longer any fellowship with God. You remember, when Adam sinned, he was removed out of the garden. The garden was the place of fellowship with God, so there was spiritual death. Then there is the death of the soul, where you did get disconnected from you. This is where conflicts happen within your own being. This is where things you don't wanna do, you wind up doing. It's a separation of the soul where the mind and emotions are not in sync with one another, so it happens at a lot of different levels, but it's still this separation, and then ultimately there is the body or the physical separation that occurs at physical death.
So all three are expressions of death that happens because of Adam's sin. Because of our own, because of him, a virus spread throughout the human race that has affected us all. But he makes a statement in verse 15: "But the free gift," that is, the gift of grace, "is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more" somebody, say, "much more", "did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many". "Much more". So however strong sin is, grace is much stronger. However deep your problem goes, grace can go much deeper. However long your conflict has existed, grace is much more.
The Bible gives Jesus a name. It calls in 1 Corinthians 15, verses 22 and verse 45, he's called "the last Adam". He's given the same name as the first Adam, but he's called "the last Adam" because it's the comparing of these two men. Sin came through the first Adam, and forgiveness and victory comes through the last Adam. You just need to know two people. The first Adam messed you up, the last Adam can fix you up, and the way he does it is through the conduit of grace. We must understand this conduit comes from a person. Remember, grace is a person, not merely a theory or theology, or a doctrine. Grace came by Jesus Christ. Everything that you are trying to have victory over in or through, has already been accomplished by Christ. You and I owe a bill, but the grace of Christ, he says, it's much more than the debt occurred, and the bill was paid by a person, and in paying this bill, he says there was, in verse 17, "you receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness". There is this waterfall of grace that comes with a gift certificate of righteousness.
Jesus Christ not only paid for your sins, he gave you a gift certificate. He paid the bill and then left a gift certificate. The gift certificate, he calls "the gift of righteousness". 1 Corinthians 1:30, says that, from Christ, we have been given righteousness. Now, "righteousness" is that standard that God requires to be pleasing to him. Righteousness is the standard God requires for us to please him. The Bible says that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law of God. He satisfied every requirement of God, as our substitute. When you receive Christ, you are given a gift. I am given a gift. It is the gift of righteousness, that is, the capacity to please God has been gifted to every believer, and, thus, you have been crowned to reign in righteousness because, if you didn't know it, I need to tell you, you've been gifted righteousness because you've been gifted the righteous one, Jesus Christ.
So if Jesus Christ is in you, the righteousness that God demands is in you because the righteous one is operating inside of you, and the way he makes the righteousness work is through gifting the righteousness that now resides in you through him. On the cross, when he said, "It is finished," sin was paid for, but when he rose from the dead and got seated on the right hand of the Father, victory was guaranteed, so you're now delivered by his life while you were redeemed by his death. So Jesus's full-time job, seated at the right hand of the Father, is to grant victory to his people.
"Saved" means delivered by his life. So why are we not delivered? Because we're trying to deliver ourselves. Verses 1 and 2 of Romans 5, "Therefore, having been justified by faith," you're already saved, "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," and then verse 2, "through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God". Let me read verse 2 again: "Through whom," through Jesus, "also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God". He says, when you were justified, when you got saved, it was just the beginning. It was the introduction.
A lot of Christians have been satisfied with the introduction. He says, "No, when you got justified, you just got the introduction to grace. Now the idea is to go deeper in the experience of the grace you've been now introduced to, and the way you do it," he says, "is by faith into this grace in which we stand". The way to go deeper in experiencing the flow and power and victory of grace is to stand in the place where you started. What you believe will determine the victory you receive. The reason why so many times in our life we live wrong is because we believe wrong.
So the way Satan keeps us defeated is he tricks our thinking and our belief system. Rather than believing we are righteous, we retreat to our sinfulness, not because the sin is not real and true, it's just not who we are anymore — that Jesus Christ has endowed me with his righteousness, and that's the truth that I believe in and that I live in. The devil has a major marketing campaign to deceive your thinking because, if he can deceive your thinking, he can keep you defeated.
In Romans 13, verses 12 and 14, to put on Christ, to wear Jesus, he uses a clothing illustration. Let me bring it to a close. This clothing illustration to put on Christ, this is repeated by Paul in a number of his books, where he uses getting dressed to explain how you now move on the chessboard of your life for victory 'cause, remember, you were saved to reign. You'll be able to walk out of here today, saying, "No, no, no, no, no. No, Devil. No, situation. No, addiction. No, no, you don't get to boss me anymore. You don't get to tell me what I gotta do anymore 'cause I'm wearin' another crown".
So Paul uses this thing about getting dressed, "putting on Christ," okay. So you get up in the morning, and you put on... let's take it to the ultimate extreme: a white shirt as a man or a white dress as a woman. I mean, this thing is fresh from the cleaners, and it is immaculately white. Because it is from the cleaners and it is white and you now put it on, your sensitivity to dirt will increase. How close you get to the car, how you get in the car, whether... dustin' the seat, dustin' the table because your whiteness will define how you view everything else. Now, if you get up in the mornin' and you put on jeans and a workout shirt, then your concern for dirt will be diminished because of what you put on. So if you will change what you put on, it'll change how you relate to everything else.
So every day, when you get up, he says, "Put on Jesus. Put on your righteousness in Christ". You get up in the morning and say, "Jesus Christ, I have been washed by the blood. I am as white as snow. I have victory in you today, and you are gonna supply me the grace I need". So when you'll put on Christ, you're gon' see dirt everywhere, but you gon' know how to slide away from it because you're wearing white. You have put on Jesus Christ, and, therefore, you'll have victory over sin and circumstances that try to control you. So let's all get dressed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.