But The Free Gift Is Not Like The Trespass

by Mike Ratliff

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. ’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6 ESV)

19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 ESV)

The doctrine of original sin is a vital part of genuine Christian orthodoxy. As a young Christian I didn’t really appreciate how important it is in our concept of the depths of our guilt before our Sovereign and thrice Holy God. However, as I have matured and God has used me in this ministry I have become involved in ‘discussions’ with those who reject this doctrine. Through these “discussions,” God has revealed to me, through my studying His Word in order to answer certain ‘arguments,’ that when this doctrine is not part of one’s theology then their concept of their salvation is more self-centered and, in some cases, is understood that one is a Christian based solely on religious acts they have done. Let’s look again at the Apostle Paul’s thesis on our salvation, which none of us deserve.

12 Διὰ τοῦτο ὥσπερ διʼ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν, ἐφʼ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον· 13 ἄχρι γὰρ νόμου ἁμαρτία ἦν ἐν κόσμῳ, ἁμαρτία δὲ οὐκ ἐλλογεῖται μὴ ὄντος νόμου, 14 ἀλλʼ ἐβασίλευσεν ὁ θάνατος ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ μέχρι Μωϋσέως καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μὴ ἁμαρτήσαντας ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι τῆς παραβάσεως Ἀδὰμ ὅς ἐστιν τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος. (Romans 5:12-14 NA28)

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 sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 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. (Romans 5:12-14 ESV)

This passage begins with “therefore” in the ESV, but it is translated as “wherefore” in the KJV.  This is not the same Greek word that Paul used in 5:1 that is translated as “therefore.” In fact, it is two words. The direct word for word translation into English of these two Greek words is, “because of this.” Because of what? Paul is referencing Romans 5:1-11. He is telling us that because of our justification by faith alone apart from works in which we received Christ’s atoning work on the cross, we must understand how the act of one man plunged all mankind into sin and how that validates the veracity of the atoning work of one man who is Christ, “the one who was to come.”

The word sin in v13 translates the Greek noun ἁμαρτία or hamartía. It means, “sin, missing the true goal and scope of life. Offense in relation to God with emphasis on the resulting guilt. “ In other words, this is not referring to individual sin which is a different Greek Word, “hamártēma,” which is “sin as an individual act.” The Holy Spirit is telling us here through Paul that the sin that entered the world through Adam is the inherent propensity to sin. This is referring to the fact that at the fall in Genesis 3 the human race became a race of sinners by nature. All are born with their sin nature already present. It is not learned behavior. This makes it impossible for any person to live in such a way that pleases God and this makes them all guilty before God.

The word death in this passage is the Greek word θάνατος or thánatos. This word can refer to all three forms of death; the first being spiritual death, which is separation from God (Ephesians 1:1,2;4:18). The second form of death is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). The third form of death is the second death (Revelation 20:11-15). All three forms of death entered into the world and the human race through the fall in Genesis 3. Paul emphasizes this horrible truth in v12 saying, “death spread to all men because all sinned” The Greek word Paul used here for “sinned” is ἥμαρτον or hēmarton It means, “to sin, to miss; one who keeps missing the mark in his relationship to God.” It is clear that all men have hēmarton because they have the sin nature that they inherited from Adam whose fall allowed hamartía into the world. Because of this, mankind is plagued by thánatos.

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

15 Ἀλλʼ οὐχ ὡς τὸ παράπτωμα, οὕτως καὶ τὸ χάρισμα· εἰ γὰρ τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι οἱ πολλοὶ ἀπέθανον, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι τῇ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπερίσσευσεν. 16 καὶ οὐχ ὡς διʼ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος τὸ δώρημα· τὸ μὲν γὰρ κρίμα ἐξ ἑνὸς εἰς κατάκριμα, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων εἰς δικαίωμα. 17 εἰ γὰρ τῷ τοῦ ἑνὸς παραπτώματι ὁ θάνατος ἐβασίλευσεν διὰ τοῦ ἑνός, πολλῷ μᾶλλον οἱ τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος καὶ τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς δικαιοσύνης λαμβάνοντες ἐν ζωῇ βασιλεύσουσιν διὰ τοῦ ἑνὸς Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Romans 5:15-17 NA28)

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. 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 many. 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. 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. (Romans 5:15-17 ESV)

Salvation is by Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Greek word Paul used in v15 that is translated as “free gift” is χάρισμα  or chárisma. This a very interesting Greek word. It is derived from the word “cháris,” grace, and the suffix ” –ma” indicating the result of grace. This is describing a gift that is a completely undeserved benefit from God.  Therefore, our salvation is that and cannot be obtained by any work that we do or be deserved by quality on our part. It is a gift.

However, the trespass, the act of missing the mark, is not like the free gift. Why? The trespass by Adam caused many to die in all three forms. However  the grace of God and the χάρισμα by the grace of Jesus Christ have abounded for many.  The Greek word translated as “abounded” means “to superabound.” This is telling us that God’s grace that by which we are saved through faith is in itself a miracle beyond our comprehension. This abounding is not describing numbers, but quality. The trespass brought judgment unto condemnation while the χάρισμα  brought justification. All born of Adam are under the condemnation of this judgment, but those who receive the abundance of grace and the χάρισμα of righteousness, reign in life through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated as “reign” describes the rule of a king. Whereas those who are under the condemnation of judgment are ruled by sin, the ones who have received grace have eternal life, which is spiritual life.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 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. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21 ESV)

This is very clear my brethren. The doctrine of original sin is biblical and it is key to understanding the reason our Lord is the Lamb of God. Unless God Himself interceded on our behalf then all men, being dead in their trespasses and sins, were under the condemnation of God’s righteous judgement. Death came into the world because of Adam’s sin. All born of Adam inherited his sin nature. All are spiritually dead and do not seek God. Therefore, God provided the only way for man to be reconciled to Him, which is by receiving the free gift of salvation by God’s grace through the faith that God gives to those whom He regenerates. Only the regenerate have this faith and they believe and repent.

God has commanded all who know Him to preach the word and make disciples from all parts of the world. Therefore, we know that it is through the preaching of the Word that men hear and believe. From this we understand that the Holy Spirit works through this preaching of the Gospel to draw men unto salvation. Shouldn’t we be obeying this command?

Soli Deo Gloria!

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