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  • Chad Werkhoven

Romans 5:12-19 - Not Fair?

Be careful before lobbing the phrase 'not fair' towards God.

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Read Romans 5:12-19

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 9

Q. But doesn’t God do us an injustice

by requiring in his law

what we are unable to do?

A. No, God created humans with the ability to keep the law.

They, however, tempted by the devil,

in reckless disobedience,

robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts.



Our opening verse today summarizes how the creation that God described seven times over as being good suddenly became entrenched in misery, murder and mayhem.

Sin entered. One man - the man, Adam - missed the mark, and as a penalty incurred the penalty of death, just as God said it would. In that all of us trace our biological heritage to this one man, we not only inherited the sinful condition he introduced, but all we've been able to do in our own strength is to continue missing God's mark, often in increasingly vile ways.

Adam was unique, not only because of his status as the first man, but also in that he represented all people. So his inability to keep God's simple command not only doomed him, but it "resulted in condemnation for all people (v18)."

Dig Deeper

We have a covenantal relationship with God. A covenant is a legal declaration, much like a contract. We enter into covenants all the time, both formally (an employment agreement, a mortgage, or a marriage) and informally (when you shove money into the machine and the car wash and then expect it to wash your car in return). A covenant boils down to the simple understanding that if I do this for you, you'll do that for me.

God entered into a covenant with Adam, who represented all who would come after him. God gave Adam life, and in return, Adam must perfectly obey God. As long as Adam obeyed, life would continue.

But Adam "broke the command (v14)," and so "judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation... [and] death reigned through that one man (v16-17)."

The bad news is that you were born into the misery that Adam unleashed. Even if you somehow could perfectly keep God's law on your own (which you can't), you would still be condemned because of your representative's failure.

Before you cry out 'not fair,' consider the awesome good news today's passage describes. What you need more than anything else is a new covenant representative, and that's exactly what the gospel announces.

Adam was "a pattern of the one to come (v14)." All who remain in him will die, but God sent a new Adam, one born of a woman, but yet not descended from the original Adam. This new Adam, Jesus Christ, perfectly kept God's covenantal obligations, and thereby earned eternal life for all who are in Him.

Know that because you belong in body and soul, in life and in death, to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ, you have a faithful and perfect representative before God. It's through "the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many [including you] will be made righteous (v19)."

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our God and covenant Father

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the "gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ," which has overflowed to you (v15).



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Mark 15


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