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A View from the Altar / Adam to Christ: Reverse the curse
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Adam to Christ: Reverse the curse

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.  Romans 5:18-19

The latter half of Romans chapter 5 has some piece-parts that are hard to understand, especially if you read in them in the KJV translation.  But the overall message of the section is clear.  One of the things Christ sought to do at Calvary was to undo what Adam had done in the garden.

Both Adam and Christ acted in a representative fashion.  In his sin, Adam condemned the whole race of mankind.  You personally had nothing to do with Adam’s act.  You didn’t exist yet, had no say in the matter, ate no fruit, took no part, and didn’t even blame Eve for it.  You might be inclined to stamp your feet and claim innocence.  That doesn’t do anything, however, about your actual situation.  You’re a passenger aboard the ship of humanity, and you share in its fate whether the captain is a wise man or a fool.  He sinned, and now you’re born a sinner.  He condemned himself to death as a sinner, and now you’re going to die as a sinner.  He acted in rebellion, but as our representative, he brought judgment upon us all.

Christ likewise acted in a representative fashion in his redeeming sacrifice at Calvary.  He represented us in innocence, and now we are judged innocent.  He suffered death on our behalf, and so we are given life.  Where Adam represented the world and brought a curse of death upon it, Christ represented the world and brought the blessing of life.

A sideline point to be made is that lots of folks believe the notion of representation is unfair.  They think it’s unfair to be blamed for Adam’s sin and involved in its curses.  The counterpoint to this complaint is that they’re also represented by the Lord Jesus, and the scales of justice are balanced, if you will, by the representation of Christ on their behalf at Calvary.  You had nothing to do with Christ’s righteousness, but he will credit you for it if you trust him. (Rom 4:22-24)

The language of verses 18 and 19 is especially apt because it draws a parallel between the scope of Adam’s error and Christ’s redemption.  We cannot argue on the basis of this text that Christ’s offering is of a lesser extent that Adam’s transgression because, whether it’s discussing “all” in v18 or “many” in v19, the two acts of representation are explicitly stated to be coextensive.  There are aspects of these two representations that differ, as Paul says.  One led to death, the other to life; one led to condemnation, the other to justification.  But the scope of each is the same because Christ, as Adam, represented humanity, not a subset of it.

There is one thing remaining to be done, and that is to receive Christ.  You were represented in Adam apart from your consent but ratified Adam’s sin when you sinned.  Likewise, you’ve been represented at Calvary by Christ who gave himself for you.  But you must agree to it before the gift can be your own.

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