Over the course of human history there have been and still are grand contrasts that are very striking to say the least. These contrasts are particularly observed in literary themes. I am currently reading through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This set of short stories is a classic and I have thoroughly enjoyed the four mysteries and scandals that I have read thus far. While there is some definite individuality to each story and while the cases Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson venture to solve have their own differences, there is one striking contrast in common with them all. As the case is presented to Holmes, there is usually an “obvious” solution and yet, Holmes always contrasts such “palpable” assumptions with the correct solution; one he had been faithfully observing and calculating from the beginning of the story. If Lestrade or Watson or another surface-level deducting character in the story assume and believe the case to be solved a certain way, I am beginning to grin with anticipation as I await Mr. Holmes’ astute contrasting hypothesis. Striking contrasts are wonderful in literature, particularly in mystery writings.
My daily readings, under God’s sovereignty (I am without doubt about this), have brought me to Romans 5 with a focus on verses 12-21. The steep, striking, and sensational contrast found in these ten verses has me grinning from ear to ear with joy. As much as I anticipated and took joy from reading the contrast between Sherlock Holmes and the “obvious” solutions to his cases, it is incomparable to the joy I found this morning in reading of the ground-shaking contrast between Adam and Jesus; the old man and the new man. I have read how all humans are grounded in as heirs to Adam by physical birth and how all who believe in Christ Jesus are firmly grounded in as heirs to the King of kings by spiritual regeneration (re-birth). I have read how sin resulting from Adam leads to eternal death and how faith in Christ resulting from Jesus’ one act of righteousness leads to eternal life. Oh and how I have read how glorious this contrast is as it is rooted in the free gift of God’s grace. Truly, no man can boast. I am living in a spirit of humble thanksgiving. As I reflect on my past sins, even the ones that are right behind me in this present week and day, I beat my chest and cry, “I am a sinner” and I rejoice greatly in the truth that “the free gift following many trespasses brought justification” (Romans 5:16). God is showing me this morning how the sin in my life and the places I at times seek pleasure and satisfaction is indeed nothing but fashioned after the flesh in Adam which leads to death. He is showing me where my satisfaction is found; at His fountain of life. I have drunk well this morning and I am fully satisfied, yet I still crave Him; my soul still longs after my King and my God. His grace is in such steep, striking, and sensational contrast to my sin that I cannot even begin to describe it. I stand shaking my head in amazement at God’s grace. I bow my head in thanksgiving. And I raise my head and hands to praise the God of glory and the glory of His grace that He has saved a wretched sinner like me. While Paul tells us he is the chief of sinners, I at times feel I must writhe in sorrow with him. But I do so only so that I may rise in victory and glory as I revel in the work of my Savior which has achieved my justification. No words can describe my thanksgiving this morning to God for removing my dead heart affected by sin in the line of Adam as I was heading toward my inheritance of death. I am equally thankful for His replacing my dead heart with a new heart by His grace and through my faith and repentance of sin as I have now been clothed with the righteousness of Christ thereby being adopted as an heir to the throne of God and eternal life. I praise Him in thankfulness and gratefulness for His past grace in my life and I praise Him in prayer for His future grace in my life for sanctification.
While Adam was a “type” of Christ (the one who was to come), he was in direct contrast to Him. They both are covenantal heads to the human race; Adam to the sinful and Christ to the righteous redeemed by His blood. Take note and meditate on these eight striking contrasts:
1. The free gift of God’s grace is not like the trespass of Adam
“But the free gift is not like the trespass.” – Romans 5:15a
2. Many died (all but Jesus. Jesus gave up His life and did not die because of sin for He was without sin) through one man’s trespass and its effects are great, yet the free gift of grace of Jesus Christ is much greater for those who believe in Him.
“For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” – Romans 5:15b
3. The result of Adam’s sin is nothing like the result of Christ’s righteousness.
“And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin.” – Romans 5:16a
4. The judgment of one trespass brought eternal condemnation, but despite a flood of trespasses, the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ brought justification.
“For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.” – Romans 5:16b
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” – Romans 5:18
5. Death reigns in those who are in Adam, but life reigns in those who are in Christ.
“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.” – Romans 5:17
6. Adam’s disobedience made all of mankind into sinners by nature, but Jesus’ obedience made all who believe in Him righteous by imputation.
“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” – Romans 5:19
7. Sin increased with the establishment of the Mosaic Law, but God’s grace overwhelmed the increasing sin giving as a free gift, salvation to all who believe in Christ Jesus.
“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” – Romans 5:20
8. Sin reigned in death, but grace reigns in eternal life through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
“so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:21
By His Grace – For His Glory – For our Joy