Romans 5.14b-17

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin Part 2

Text: Romans 5.14b-17

Introduction: I’m going to give you a head’s up as we start this morning. Later in the sermon, there will be a time when you’re going to need something to write on and with: either a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Or, you’ll want to pull out your electronic device to write things down with. So, get that ready. It won’t be for a while, but when the moment comes, you’ll want to participate. And if you don’t – trust me, you’ll wish you would have. I’m just saying… so get that ready. Just a scratch piece of paper or your notes app will do.

We’re in the midst of the study of original sin found in Romans 5.12-21. Open up you Bible to Romans 5. I think the idea of Original Sin is easy to understand at its basic meaning. However, this passage, in which we read and learn about the Doctrine of Original Sin is hard to understand. Not the doctrine, per se, but rather, the passage is hard to understand.

Last week in our community group we talked about some of the texts that are hard to understand (first for children, then for adults). One of the verses we looked at was:

2 Peter 3.15-17: 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

As I’ve thought more about our Community Group last week, I’ve wondered why it is that some things are hard to understand. This has especially consumed me because this passage in Romans 5 is one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture.

Philip Jensen, the Australian Theologian gives us three reasons we find Scripture hard to understand.

Some Passages of Scripture are hard to understand because of:

  1. Translation. And there are various explanations for this:
    1. From one language to another. Some words just don’t exist in the new language.
    2. From one culture to another (or even from one culture, in another language to a different culture and language. Just saying that, is difficult to grasp. A Hebrew Culture and a Greek language into culture with a language, but no alphabet.
    3. Different millenniums let alone, different centuries.
  2. Complex Expressions.
    1. For example: Therefore, just as in v 12. You expect Paul then to say, So, then… But here is the problem: Paul doesn’t do that. He makes a statement in v 12, then, a parenthetical statement in v.13-14; expounds on that in 15-17; and comes back to what he said in v 12 in v 18 – Therefore, as… and doesn’t get to the So until v 19b and 21 (So by… and So, that…).
  3. The Difficulty of Ideas.
    1. Our knowledge is limited. Like when you see a footnote and the footnote reads: The Hebrew meaning is here is obscure. It wasn’t obscure to the writer and probably not to the original audience. However, being 4,000 years later, or in our case, 2000 years later – our knowledge is limited.
    2. Wrong basic assumptions.
      1. We try to put 21st Century Western ideas and into 1st Century understanding. They simply are not congruous.
      2. We want our questions answered, rather than the question the Bible passage is answering.
    3. Note: When we come to difficult passages, we shouldn’t despair, but rather we should rejoice. This is an opportunity for growth. Consider this: this is God’s Word. It has been preserved to this day, just for us. God has no problem with his work as he has presented it to us. If there is a problem – then the problem is with me, not with God’s Word. I am the one who must change to match it, not the other way around. Amen?

That’s where we are this morning, so let’s pray that God will give us clarity and understanding – that God would be growing us in our knowledge and understanding of who He is.


In our study of The Doctrine of Original Sin, we left off our passage in v 14b where the 2nd man was introduced: who was a type of the one who was to come. You and I know he is Jesus, the Messiah.

Adam is a type of the messiah. For those of you who don’t know what Type means, well, God gave us types of the messiah throughout history to help us identify the Messiah when he came. David was a type of the Christ. Moses was a type of the Christ. Those are just two examples. Here, Paul is giving us another example: Adam. Now, Is Paul saying these guys are exactly alike? Well, no, not really. But Paul is saying there are some similarities. Let’s look closer at the passage and identify them. I’ve outlined these next three verses (15-17) as follows:

The Actions of these two men tell us:

  1. Where we currently stand before God.
  2. The Verdict of God’s Judgment toward us because of that standing. And
  3. The Hope we possess in light of that verdict.

Transition: Let’s begin with this first similarity and the difference between the two. The actions of these two men tell us where we currently stand before God.

I.     Our Standing (15)

exp.: rd 14b-15; who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 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 that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. So, the two words I want you to focus on in this passage are: Trespass and Grace.

ill.: Have you ever seen a sign like this: Show Slides;

app.: To trespass means to cross a boundary into an area that is off limits. We don’t belong there. The word in the Greek means misstep and it has the idea of falling, like, to be tripped up.

exp.: Grace, we use that word to describe someone who someone whose step is smooth – we would say Graceful.

ill.: The summer before my sophmore year Hig, my youth pastor, took us on a choir tour. It was my first tour and I absolutely loved it. On that trip, there was this girl, Mitzi Jaunt. Mitzi was a sweet girl, kind to everyone, but she was … well, kind of a clutz. At one part of the trip, we were unloading the bus, and the stuff in the back of the bus when Mitzi fell out of the back of the bus and actually hit her head. It scared us all, but she was ok. We didn’t know at first, but as time went by, it turned out that she had a pretty hard head. No offense, Mitzi, if you’re listening to this. Anyway, Mitzi fell or stumbled from time to time, but that fall was the worst. From that time on, we started calling her Grace, in reference to her lack of Grace when stepping off the bus or walking into the church, or wherever.

app.: in that example, Mitzi wasn’t very graceful – her misstep might have been pretty bad, but, fortunately for all, she was fine. But now, you see the two opposites or dissimilarities: a misstep versus a beautiful walk. Falling versus Standing. You have Standing someplace you were never designed to be and in danger versus standing in a place of safety and security.

t.s.: the actions of the two men show us where we stand… 2nd,

II.    The Verdict (16)

exp.: The Actions of these two men tell us the verdict of God’s judgment toward us because of that standing; rd v 16; 16 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. Note the two words: condemnation and justification; The first word, I think, is fairly understandable. Because of our trespasses that came to us through the one man’s sin, we stand condemned. Adam’s sin was, according to v 12, spread to us through Adam’s actions. The one man’s trespass has made us all trespassers. The verdict for this position in which we now stand is condemnation. To be condemned means to have a sentence of guilty read to us and then to be sent to our punishment. Eternal Condemnation is a place of torment and punishment. The Bible calls the place Hell. Romans 3.23 is quite plain when it reads: For the wages of sin is deathbut the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Which is precisely what our text this morning reads: 16 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. You stand before God either in a fallen condition or in his Grace. That standing brings God’s judgment. God’s judgment for the fallen condition is condemnation. The judgment for standing in his Grace is Justification.

Let’s answer what justification is: it is a little harder to understand. Some folks like to use the word justified in a sentence. They say Its just if I’d never sinned. Have you ever heard that before? Well, I like it in that it helps us understand that our sin is wiped away and no record of wrongs is now held against us. But it really isn’t as just if I’d never sinned, because I have. And so have you. To be justified means to be declared not guilty. But, we are guilty. We have sinned or fallen. The only way to be justified before God, is to have someone else take the blame for our sin.

ill.: And that is precisely what Christ has done. Here is a big word for you: Imputation. It actually appears in our text his morning. It’s a big word that we don’t normally use in our everyday lingo. Theologians use it to explain a transfer of someone’s account to another person. We see imputation used in three different ways in New Testament:

  1. Adam’s sin was imputed to us when he sinned, thereby making it that all have sinned.
  2. Our sin was imputed to Christ when he died on the cross for our sins. When by faith, we come to Christ and recognize our sin, we can confess that sin and surrender our lives to God. God then takes our sin and places it on Christ. Our trespasses, our debts, our account is placed upon at the Cross.
  3. Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. When we placed our faith in him, his righteousness, his perfection, his sinless-ness was then accounted to us.

app.: This last example of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us is what justification is all about. That is what allows us to stand justified before God – all because of Christ’s work, because of his sacrifice, because he paid the penalty due to us.

t.s.: The Actions of these two men tell us, first, where we currently stand before God. And, 2ndly, they tell us the verdict of God’s judgment toward us because of that standing. Finally, their actions tell us of the hope we have in light of that verdict.

III.   Our Hope (17)

exp.: rd v 17; 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 the one man Jesus Christ. What did their actions bring us? Note the two words: death vs. life; because of the one man’s trespass, death reigned. And, 2ndly, through the one man Jesus, through his actions we see the free gift of righteousness reign in life. The most you can hope for in a life without Christ is eternal death. The only destiny for you is Hell. For me, that ain’t much to hope for. But, the converse is true: if you have Christ as your savior, you have the hope of life – here and now and in the hereafter.

ill.: I’d like to try something with you… take out a paper and pen or pencil and answer the following questions. Don’t show anyone. Keep your answers to yourself. Ok? Ready?

  • Pick a number between one and ten.
  • Now multiply that number by 9.
  • If you have a two digit number, add the two digits together (52 is 5+2=7)
  • Now, take that number and subtract 5.
  • Turn that number into a letter: 1-a, 2-b, 3-c, etc.
  • Now, pick a country that starts with that letter…
  • Now, add one to that letter, meaning go up one letter (a to b, b to c, etc.)
  • Now, pick and animal that starts with that letter…
  • Tell me when you’re ready…

Did you pick * and *? (Answers at the bottom of this post…) Pretty amazing isn’t it?

app.: Did you know that I can also tell you something else with tremendous accuracy? Without Christ, you stand before God in your trespasses and therefore, you stand condemned. That condemnation brings you a certain death that is eternal. Here is something else I can tell you and it works because I know the mathematical formula: If you stand in God’s Grace, fully forgiven, then I know the Verdict read to you will be to declare your justification before God. And therefore, I know that you have been granted life eternal. I know, I know, you’re just being totally amazed by me this morning! How can I tell you with certainty that you’re a sinner? Well, in the same way I can tell you that you probably chose Denmark and Elephant. There really is no big secret here.

t.s.: In this last paragraph, picking up in verse 18, Paul describes the incredible strength and superiority of Christ over Adam. Adam’s affect on us can be overcome and restored. Christ’s work cannot be undone. And that is where we’ll pick up next week.

Conclusion: The following week, we’re planning on a special praise service where we’ll want to come together and thank God for his many blessings upon Calvary. I hope you’ll make plans to be here for that on the 29th.

So, what do I want you to take home with you today?


  1. The Word of God can be difficult to understand at times. But if there is a problem, it is with us – not God.
    1. Let’s use those times to grow in our understanding of God.
    2. Let’s use those times to challenge ourselves to align our lives with God’s Word instead of making God’s Word align with our desires.
  2. Sin is a difficult subject. Truth is, no one wants to be called a sinner. But, again, the truth is, every one of us is!
    1. We’re sinners because Adam’s sin was imputed to us.
      1. Sin brings condemnation and that
      2. Condemnation brings death.

But here is the really good news: Today, you can stand in the grace of God, justified freely and forgiven. Today, if you desire, you can come to Christ and find life – not just for today (living life the way God designed), but for eternity.

Ask the person next to you if they would like to receive Christ and find eternity. Come, introduce them to me or an elder or one of our wives. We want to meet them and pray with them and help them.

Maybe there is another decision on someone’s heart. We’ll meet in the back in a bit for a time of fellowship. I’d love to visit with you about this.

In a moment we’ll gather for fellowship in the back. Parents, would you help your children with any of the refreshments you’d like for them to have. We’d like our guests, of course, to have first dibs on the coffee and refreshments.

We’ll have a moment of silence and then I’d like to close us with a benedictory prayer. Then, can we sing a song in unity as we dismiss for our time of fellowship?

Answers: Denmark & Elephant


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Filed under 2 Peter, Evangelism, Faith, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

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