Grace Abounding In Christ
Grace Reigns In Christ
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 24c of 83


“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

[What is the relationship between the Law, sin, grace and Christ? In seeking to show the biblical and theological interconnections of the doctrine of Justification, the apostle Paul clarifies in our text that: (1) The Law magnified Sin; (2) Sin magnifies Grace; and (3) Grace reigns in Christ.

We have already considered the first tow propositions, we must now conclude with the last. —JJL]


3. Grace Reigns in Christ

Paul says:

That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:20-21).

Paul, is speaking in the context of the giving of the written Law at the time of Moses. Sin had been reigning unto death since the Fall. Even before Moses and the publication of the Law, sin was reigning unto death. Every one died. Whether or not they had sinned in the same way as Adam, they died. Even infants who had no actual sin in words, deeds, or thoughts, died. Death was reigning. It was reigning over all. But when the Law entered, sin abounded, and grace did much more abound. That is grace super-abounded. Grace not only reversed the effect of sin, it did more than that. Not only does it free us from eternal death, it gives us eternal life. Grace, in other words, reigns unto eternal life. But how did reign?

Grace reigns “through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” says Paul. Grace reigns in Christ because of what Christ did for us.

What did Christ do?

Briefly, He lived and died for us. He kept the Law of God perfectly on our behalf; and then, He died for our sin. Theologians call this the active and passive obedience of Christ;—or perhaps better, the preceptive and penal obedience of Christ.

By the penal obedience of Christ, Christ paid for our sins completely. He was raised for our justification. By the preceptive obedience of Christ, Christ kept the covenant of works on our behalf to merit eternal life for us.

These two aspects of Christ’s obedience are important. Had Christ only died, we would owe no debt, but we would not have heaven either. But Christ lived for us so that by His merit we do not only have our sins paid for, but we have a place in heaven.

Sin reign unto death, but grace reigned unto eternal life because of the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated in His living and dying for us.

Grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” says Paul.

This was true when the Law was first published. When the Law first entered, it began to magnify sin; and the burden of sin made our fathers realise their need of Christ. For this reason, from the time of Moses or even as far back as Adam, there was a great emphasis on animal sacrifices. Every animal that was sacrificed pointed to Christ. So Paul says in Galatians 3 that…

“…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24).

The Law exposed sin, and showed our fathers in the faith their need for the Messiah. No one, but the Messiah could deliver sinful man out of sin. Such as placed their hope on the Messiah had the sting of death removed from them. Instead of death, they enjoyed eternal life on account of Christ their Lord who was to come. Grace super-abounded and reigned for them in the Messiah to come.

c.   But was Paul only concerned about what happened immediately after the Law was given? Surely not!  What Paul is saying is as true today in our lives as it was during the days of Moses.

We are as much in need of grace today as our fathers in the faith. Like our fathers in the faith, the Law magnifies our sin, and showed us our need for grace. But were it not for the Lord Jesus Christ, grace is meaningless.

But because of the Lord Jesus Christ grace super-abounds and reigns. Those of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ and own Him to be our Saviour and Lord, are no longer under the rule of sin and death. Sin cannot claim us. Death cannot claim us. We are no longer subjects of sin and death. We have become subjects of Christ. We have been translated from darkness and death and sin, into Christ’s marvellous light to enjoy life and righteousness.

Sin used to reign unto death in us. But now by the grace of God, the righteousness of Christ reigns unto eternal life in us. We are forgiven of our sins, and we are beloved by God because of what Christ our Covenant Head has done for us.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

We must conclude. Law, Grace and Christ: What are these things to you, dear reader?

a.   What is the Law to you? What is your attitude towards the Law? Many people think that the Law is a useless appendage to Christianity. Christianity is about grace, not about Law, they say. But Paul is saying otherwise. He is essentially saying that without the Law, we know not grace. Without the Law, we do not understand our sinfulness. Without the Law, we do not understand our need for Christ.

Ultimately, the Law magnifies Christ. Let none of us despise the Law. Let us strive to live according to the Law. It is our duty to keep the Moral Law. But let us not think that we can attain righteousness through keeping the Law. No, no; by the Law is the knowledge of sin. The more we try to keep the Law, the more we will realise it is impossible. But the more we see the impossibility of keeping the law, the more we are shut up to Christ; and the more we are dependant on Him; and the more we love Him. And the more we love Him, the more we want to keep His Law.

Therefore the Law is the friend of the believer. We will never want to be rid of the Law in this Life. We love the Law, for the Law not only leads us to Christ, but shows us how we are to love Christ our Lord.

Now, the Law is heard at the preaching of the Gospel. You will hardly find a sermon that is entirely Law or entirely Gospel. Therefore, dear reader, whether you are young or old, pay careful attention whenever the Word of God is preached. Whenever the Word is preached, God is shining His search-light into your heart. Will you not, therefore, take the opportunity to look into your heart? If you do so, you will see the filth in your heart. Then you must ask the Lord to forgive you your sin and to sweep and wash your heart clean of sin by the blood of Christ. Do you see how the preaching of the Word should drive you to Christ?

b.  And what of grace? What is grace to you? Many Christians take grace for granted. But what is grace really? Grace is not receiving what we deserve; and receiving what we do not deserve. Paul tells us that when sin abounded, grace did much more abound. This is because, it is when we see how undeserving we are before God, that we understand how great God’s grace is toward us.

Are you a child? Do you understand what is grace? You do not understand grace unless you can tell the Lord: “Lord, I am a sinner. If thou would throw me into hell, I know I deserve it. I do not want to go to hell. Lord help me. Help me not because I deserve your help. Help me because Christ Jesus is my Lord.”

But finally, who is Christ to you? Paul teaches us that grace abounds in Christ. Were it not for Christ, grace is meaningless. Do you know Christ? I am not asking if you know who He is. I am asking if you love Him as your Lord and Saviour? Is He altogether precious and lovely to you?

If He is, blessed are you. Praise God for Him! Because of Him, you are not only spared God’s wrath, but you enjoy God’s love. You will enjoy His love not only in this life, but in the life to come. You can be sure that God will never forsake you. He has overcome sin and death. He will not allow you to be overwhelmed by sin or death or anything in this world. Grace abounds in Christ. You are living a life of overflowing grace. Do not live as if you have no victory over sin and no control of your circumstance. If you are united with Christ and grace abounds in Christ, live according to the privilege granted you. Make use of prayer. Look to Christ. Know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. In Christ, nothing is impossible for you.

But if Christ is a stranger to you, then I would urge you consider your heart. Your heart is filthy and dusty. You may not admit it because your understanding is darkened. But that does not change anything. Your heart is dark and filthy. It is hateful to God. But now the Word of God is shining. It is shining into your heart. Do you not see the filth? God sees every nook and cranny in your heart.

O, will you cease to deny your sin? Will you not rather confess and repent of them before the Lord? Who knows if He might grant you eternal life? Go to Christ. Go to him immediately in humility and contrition. Is He a stranger to you because you are new to church? Is He still a stranger to you though you have been a Christian for many years? Go to Him confessing your ignorance. Do not hesitate. He will not cast out anyone who comes unto Him in humble repentance. And He will come unto you with power to sweep and wash your heart clean of sin. Only He can do it, for He paid for our sins at the Cross. Will you not flee to Him? Amen.

—JJ Lim