We need to look at the passage again carefully in order to understand it.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to everyone, because all have sinned. Rom 5:12
Following this verse there is a break in Paul’s thought.
Certainly sin was in the world before the law was given, but no record of sin is kept when there is no law.
Nevertheless, death ruled from the time of Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the same way Adam did when he disobeyed. He is a type of the one who would come.
But God's free gift is not like Adam's offense. For if many people died as the result of one man's offense, how much more have God's grace and the free gift given through the kindness of one man, Jesus Christ, been showered on many people!
Nor can the free gift be compared to what came through the man who sinned. For the sentence that followed one man's offense brought condemnation, but the free gift brought justification, even after many offenses.
For if, through one man, death ruled because of that man's offense, how much more will those who receive such overflowing grace and the gift of righteousness rule in life because of one man, Jesus Christ! (Rom 5:13-17)
Always be watching for the connection of Paul’s thought. If you don’t, you will be led astray by his tangents, his side thoughts that interrupt the flow from time to time.
Verse 12 connects fully with verse 18. It is like Paul senses his readers might be confused by his comment “because all have sinned”.
He does not mean as I said yesterday that all sin. Even though that is true. A deeper thought is going on here. Rather the meaning is that all have been reckoned to be sinners because of Adam’s first act of sinning.
In verses 13 and 14 he explains how we are in Adam and counted with his sin. At the end of 5:14 he says our union with Christ is like our union in Adam. But then realises he has to explain that. I listed out the comparisons and differences for you yesterday. Maybe you can think of more. In verses 15-17 Paul emphasises how our union with Christ far outstrips that of our union with Adam. He emphasises grace again and again. We will leave verses 20 and 21 for the next day. They deserve special mention. Ponder on them in the meantime. They are connected with Paul’s thought of the triumph of abounding grace! Now that is something to get excited about.
In verses 5:18 – 19 Paul returns to the flow of his original thought in 5:12. He is satisfied now that he has explained himself and his readers won’t be confused.
“Consequently, just as one offense resulted in condemnation for everyone, so one act of righteousness results in justification and life for everyone. For just as through one man's disobedience many people were made sinners, so also through one man's obedience many people will be made righteous.”
Now you are in a better position to understand these two verses as a result of our digging in Chapter 3 and 4. You understand now the importance of justification and that being on the basis of God’s action not ours. Therefore His grace is paramount. You know now there is nothing you can do to earn it, it is something freely given to you by grace because He loved you while you were still a sinner.
I hope today has shown you to have your wits about you when you are following Paul’s thought or you can easily get tangled up with his side-eddies of thought and lose track of the main point. When you know what is in focus then you will not major on minors. Be careful to always make the main thing the main thing. To do otherwise is to bring a wrong emphasis to Scripture and in so doing to miss the point.
I am also going leave you to ponder on the significance of Paul’s concept of being “in Christ”. Watch for it and think about it. Ponder what we have and share “in Christ”. The phrase “in Christ” is important in all of Paul’s writings.
Everyone thinks of changing the world but no-one thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy
Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. Harry Truman