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. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 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. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Romans 5:17-21
In the scriptural passages above (Romans 5:17-21) it is clear that sin reigns over all flesh because of Adam’s disobedience (see Genesis 2:16-17). It is also clear that God, in His immeasurable mercy and amazing grace, gave His only begotten son so that everyone who believes will have eternal life. First, let’s be clear about what believing is and isn’t. Believing doesn’t mean that we simply acknowledge that there is a God in Heaven, and that He did indeed sacrifice His son that we might have eternal life. As it says in James 2:19: “you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder”; so acknowledging God’s existence means nothing on its’ own. Believing starts with repentance, which by Greek definition means; a transformation of heart, a spiritual conversion. Keep in mind that John the Baptist came preaching repentance for the Kingdom of God is near (Matthew 3:2), meaning that those who truly believed in God would stop sinning so that they could receive the promise that God made to Abraham (Genesis 22:18). Therefore believing is accompanied by actions that support our confession of faith. In short, believing is trusting in God’s commands. James 2:26 says: “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead”. In the scriptural passages above, the word “reign” or “reigned” is referenced three times and it is important that we understand the term in order to have greater insight. To reign means to have authority, or to rule over someone or something. Romans 5:21 states that “sin reigns in death” and James 2:26 states that “the body without God’s spirit is dead”, meaning those that live in disobedience to God are dead in His eyes. The good news is that this is not a permanent statement of condemnation, but a statement of conviction. Scripture also says in Hebrews 3:12-13: “see to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”. Again, it all starts with being humble and repenting from our sinful ways. John 3:18 says :”whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”. Romans 6:11-12 says: “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires”. Eternal condemnation reigns over all that refuse to repent from their flesh-filled, worldly ways and put their hearts and hope in God through Christ (John 14:6). Romans 5:21 reads: “grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”, which means that God’s grace has authority over those that seek righteousness.
Now the obvious question should be: how does one acquire the righteousness of God and gain access to God’s grace and mercy? Well, it is clear that all flesh is sin and doomed to destruction, and without faith it is impossible to please God, as it says in Hebrews 11:6 So what is the answer? Can we attain God’s righteousness through religion or modern day church traditions? Certainly not, for if rituals and routines were the answer there would have been no need for Christ Jesus. Can we attain God’s righteousness by asking self-righteous people to pray on our behalf? Absolutely not! Romans 2:11-12 says: “for God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law”. The truth is that God’s righteousness can only be attained through placing our faith in His Word, which our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus came to demonstrate. Romans 1:17 says: “in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “the righteous will live by faith”. Romans 3:21-22 says: “apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe”. 1Corinthians 1:30 says: “it is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”. Lastly Romans 5:2-3 says: “therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God”. So it is right to conclude that we access God’s grace through believing in Jesus Christ (God’s righteousness). It is also safe to conclude that God’s grace will continue to reign over those who remain humbly repentant and walk this dark world by faith and not by sight (2Corinthians 5:7). LET IT REIGN!