12 Sin entered the world because one man sinned. And death came because of sin. Everyone sinned, so death came to all people. 13 Before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not judged when there is no law. 14 Death ruled from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. Death ruled even over those who did not sin as Adam did. He broke God’s command. But he also became a pattern of the One who was going to come. 15 God’s gift is different from Adam’s sin. Many people died because of the sin of that one man. But it was even more sure that God’s grace would also come through one man. That man is Jesus Christ. God’s gift of grace was more than enough for the whole world. 16 The result of God’s gift is different from the result of Adam’s sin. God judged one sin. That brought guilt. But after many sins, God’s gift made people right with him. 17 One man sinned, and death ruled because of his sin. But we are even more sure of what will happen because of what the one man, Jesus Christ, has done. Those who receive the rich supply of God’s grace will rule with Christ in his kingdom. They have received God’s gift and have been made right with him. 18 One man’s sin brought guilt to all people. So also one right act made all people right with God. And all who are right with God will live. 19 Many people were made sinners because one man did not obey. But one man did obey. That is why many people will be made right with God. 20 The law was given so that sin would increase. But where sin increased, God’s grace increased even more. 21 Sin ruled because of death. So also grace rules in the lives of those who are right with God. The grace of God brings eternal life because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done.
The words ‘sin,’ ‘sinned’ and ‘sinners’ are mentioned in this passage eleven times, and the similar words, ‘trespass’ and ‘trespasses’ are mentioned a further six times. So much sin, so much going against God’s way, every person tainted with the failure to live up to God’s perfect standards. I find it easy to focus on the issue of sin, of how many times I mess up, and of all the times I fall short of God’s call.
And yet, in verse fifteen there is this rather short but all-important word that I can’t afford to miss.
It’s used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been stated.
Yes, there’s an issue of sin. Yes, the consequence is death. BUT, in contrast to this dark picture, I have hope, and it’s not dependent on me. God’s abundant provision of grace, a free gift, available to me through faith in Jesus, transforms me such that I am no longer a sinner, but righteous and justified. Yes, the beginning of the story is dark, BUT it is eclipsed by the incredible rescue carried out by my God.
Am I living in the light of God’s rescue, or do I keep looking back to where I used to be? Lord, help me to live in the reality of your rescue, help me to focus on what you have done and are doing in my life, and not on my shortcomings. Thank you for the BUT, which changes everything. Today Lord I walk knowing I am righteous and justified because of Jesus. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh