Adam and Christ 09 SEP 2018

Gen 3:1-19 | Ps 119:81-88 | Rom 5:12-21 | Mark 8:27-38


Last time I preached I spoke of the power of the gospel to turn Christians into, “The Happiest People on Earth” (Shakarian). This isn’t just a Pentecostal position but is as ancient as the profound words from the Easter Mass; “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

Or, the same excellent truth extolled in the hymn by Isaac Watts, “In Him the tribes of Adam boast More blessings than their father lost.(Lyrics) | (tune) 

By being “only human” we all know the nature of Adamic sin; the need to keep weeding the garden, the crazy egoistic ambitions in Canberra, the constant conflicts from Syria, the latest fight you had with your husband/wife/kids, in the ageing of our own minds and bodies and the inevitability of death, testify to us of Adam’s influence.

And overcoming such afflictions is the great preoccupation of humanity. Paul’s one interest in Adam however is to exult the victorious triumph of grace in Christ1)Rom 5 ESV; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49 ESV.

Which is why this chapter is dominated by contrasts, whatever power death possess, grace has “much more”, however destructive condemnation may be, the “free gift” of justification/righteousness exceeds it, where sin did “abound” grace did much more/“super-abound”.

The total superiority of Christ over Adam is the source of Christian confidence.


Romans 5 vs.12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinnedvs.13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. vs.14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

One of the most famous scriptures is Romans declares, “the wages of sin is death(Rom 6:23 ESV). But this chapter teaches we all must die not because we have sinned like Adam sin but because we are related to Adam in such a way that when he rebelled in Eden we all said, “Amen”.

We have all inherited a sinful nature from the first Man and we share his guilt; in David’s lamentation, “I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.2)Ps 51:5 ESV cf. Eph 2:3 ESV.

This “death” we share “in Adam(1 Cor 15:22 ESV) isn’t just physical, it’s also “spiritual”, the malignant power of sin to separate us from fellowship with God.

Since sinners can never step outside their fallen condition the depths of original sin are incomprehensible.

But Paul’s about the death of Jesus, “one has died for all, therefore all have died(2 Cor 5:14 ESV), proclaims a connection between Jesus and lost humanity that nullifies that between us and Adam.

Through the life of the only person who never rebelled against God the power of the Adamic nature has been broken.

Romans 5 vs.13 – vs.14
From Adam to Moses people didn’t transgress or violate a known commandment as Adam did, so that in the absence of law their sin was not clearly registered.

Law or no law however death kept reigning over human life under the decree of God.

This is an enemy that still defeats even the strongest human attempts to defeat it (1 Cor 15:26 ESV). But it doesn’t have to defeat us. When one of my lecturers said death could never be a good thing I quoted to him from the song of Simeon.

Having seen the coming of “the Lord’s Christ” a jubilant Simeon exclaims, ““Lord, now you are letting your servant die in peace, according to your word;” (Luke 2:26, 29 ESV).

Paul downsizes Adam by explaining he, “was a type of the one who was to come”; (this is messianic deliverer language Mark 11:9 ESV; Luke 7:20 ESV; John 4:25 ESV).

A “type” is a mark made by striking or a mould in which something is shaped; so one commentator remarks, “Adam is like a wax impression in relation to the iron stamp who is Jesus Christ.” (Riches)

A contemporary translation says, “Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.(Rom 5:14 NLT).

We must get the order right, Christ is not like Adam but Adam was a “pattern” or “model” of Jesus.

Much as a masterpiece is preceded by a series of rough sketches Adam was called to be what Christ would in fact become.

Adam must be understood only in terms of Christ, and his sin only in terms of the cross.

As Adam headed up a lost humanity, Christ heads up a new humanity whose blessings far exceed what was lost in the first Man.

Adam and Jesus are alike in that the action of each affected many; but whereas Adam brought sin through self-assertion Christ brought grace through self sacrifice. 

The dissimilarity is much greater than the similarity; the “free gift is not like” the sin says Paul (Rom 5 vs.15a).

Romans 5 vs.15 … 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 manyvs.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. vs.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.

The “much more… by the grace of that one-man Jesus Christ(vs.15) means that in giving his own Son God has released a power much greater than the power of sin.

Adam and Christ are not on the same scale of comparison; Calvin boldly says, “the grace procured by Christ belongs to a greater number than the condemnation contracted by the first man”.

The evidence of God’s sentence of “condemnation” is death (Rom 5:16, 18 ESV); but the effect of God’s grace is life and justification, God the Judge has decreed that through faith we are righteous before him, “justified” in an undo-able way forever.

Death has been a totalitarian power reigning over all since Adam (vs.17), but God’s abundant justifying grace turns us lost sinners into kings who “reign in life” sharing in Christ’s resurrection power (cf. Phil 3:10 ESV).

The victorious life of Jesus begins to triumph over deadly powers from the moment we follow Christ and will come to its glorious conclusion when he raises us from the dead (John 5:27-29 ESV).

Romans 5 vs.18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. vs.19 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.

When Adam disobeyed God’s law all human beings fell into condemnation but when Jesus obeyed all his Father’s commands a gift of justification with God was opened up for all3)Matt 3:15 ESV; 1 Cor 1:30 ESV; Phil 2:8 ESV.

The “one act of righteousness” that achieved this was the death of Jesus.

Before Christ’s saving death the forces of sin, Satan and death tyrannised human existence – it’s simply “human” to fear sickness, ageing and mortality, but now Christ has triumphed over all.

Having been made righteous before God (Isa 53:11 ESV) in Christ have no reason to fear. 


Through Adam’s sin, humanity was made up of a single class of sinners, now through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice by faith we can receive the status of his perfect obedience. 4)Rom 1:17 ESV; Rom 3:10 ESV; Rom 5:7 ESV.

Romans 5 vs.20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, vs.21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God didn’t give the Law of Moses to reduce sinning, the Law made sinning all the more obvious as wilful flagrant disobedience.

Paul isn’t working to make us feel bad about ourselves, he’s magnifying the triumph of grace, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.

God’s loving grace super-abounded in the self-giving of the cross vastly overwhelming the temporal experience of physical death and giving eternal life to those who believe (Rom 6:23 ESV).

As grace reigns in us we become icons of God’s triumph in Christ. How the world needs Christians walking in victory today.


Foolish fallen humanity still believes that by our clever psychotherapies, self-help courses and anti-bullying programmes we can change not only human behaviour but human nature.

But our profound selfishness needs nothing less than an exchanged life (Gal 2:20 ESV), we need to be crucified, dead, buried, and raised again with Christ (Rom 6 ESV)Deep down lost people know that they need something beyond themselves, they need Jesus!

I was at a meeting the other day and Jade Lewis was out our table; Jade was a hard core drug addict who came to Christ, she now pastors a church and has set up a programme for women in prison to lift them out of their hopeless and lost condition.

Or take Peter Lyndon James who was a drug dealer who spent the first half of his life in correctional facilities but has now set up Shalom House, ministering to 100’s of men from broken backgrounds.

Jade and Peter are not perfect people but through Christ they walking in the guilt free zone of justification so that God speaks with power and authority through their lives.

You don’t need to be a reformed drug addict to “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ(Rom 5:17 ESV).

You can reveal that Jesus is the innermost secret of every human life  by being part of a community whose members are not anxious in the face of sickness, ageing, financial poverty and death5)1 Cor 15:54-58 ESV; Heb 2:14-15 ESV.

The triumph of the life of Christ in us over the suffering Adam brought into the world brings the revelation of the deepest meaning of what it is to be human.

Such an understanding opens up future possibilities exciting beyond description.

Whatever elements of the Adamic tragedy that might confront us, unemployment, sickness, ageing, pain, death, relationship breakdown etc., each of us will be given many opportunities to live out and declare the grace of God in the victory of Christ.

Either the life of Adam will reign in you or the grace-filled life of Jesus will reign.

For Adam to reign you don’t have to do anything- just be your old self.  For Christ to triumph you need to exercise faith and ask in each and every circumstance of life, especially the hardest, that Jesus be your King.

Let us pray. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 9. September, 2018 Location: Unknown

Author: Dr. John Yates

YouTube or PODCAST:

9. September, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. Rom 5 ESV; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49 ESV
2. Ps 51:5 ESV cf. Eph 2:3 ESV
3. Matt 3:15 ESV; 1 Cor 1:30 ESV; Phil 2:8 ESV
4. Rom 1:17 ESV; Rom 3:10 ESV; Rom 5:7 ESV
5. 1 Cor 15:54-58 ESV; Heb 2:14-15 ESV

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