Romans 5: 12-21

Roy Osborne
September 2012


As we approach the 5th chapter of Romans, I must warn you that it is necessary for us to establish some fundamental principles of the Bible in our minds before attempting to understand this complex chapter.  Some doctrines that I consider to be very unBiblical have been taught using interpretations of this chapter that ignored these basic Biblical principles.  The main doctrine that I consider very false is the teaching of inherited sin, or that we are sinners from birth.  Before dealing with this, let’s look at some of these fundamental principles.

First, from the fact that “God is love”, and that He loved the world, i.e., the creature He created to live in the world, it is evident that the purpose He had in creating man was for a loving relationship.  In order to have such a relationship, both parties must be free to choose whether they want it or not.  Therefore, man was created with complete freedom of choice.  He decided that he wanted to walk by his own rules, and thus violated a perfect relationship with God.  It is quite obvious, then, that all other creatures which God made to dwell on earth…and every child born is a creation of God…would have the same freedom of choice.  Paul said “death came to all men because all have sinned”.  Adam was the first sinner, and introduced evil into a perfect world.  Since then, all have been born into a sinful world, and participate in the sin.  However, all men are born with the right of free choice, and until they are old enough to exert that free choice, they are not arbitrarily condemned.

This chapter begins with Paul’s statement that we are “justified by faith”.  Faith is a moral choice, and I must be mature enough to realize that I have a moral responsibility, before I can make such a choice.

Another very important Biblical principle, that we need always to keep in mind is this:  God does not require the impossible of anyone.
In many places, the Bible says, “God is a just God”.  This forever removes the possibility that He would condemn someone for what another does.  When we are told that the “sins of the fathers are visited on the children” for many generations, it does not mean that the children are condemned for their father’s sin.  It means that the results of his sins are felt by his children for a long time.  An abusive father, for example, passes on the results of his abuse, and his personality, to his children.  History reveals that this can affect his progeny for many generations.  But the ones affected are only held responsible for their own behavior.  They are not blamed for his.  I may be affected by my father’s nature, but I can still choose whether to repeat his sins or not.

Having said all of this, it is still true that no man is strong enough to resist all of the temptations in this world of sin.  When David said he was born in sin, he was only decrying the fact that, surrounded by sin, he fell victim to it in his own behavior, whether he really wanted to or not.  As Paul said, “What I do I would not, and what I would not, that I do”.  But God treats us as if we were not sinners (which is what “justified” really means) if we reject Adam’s choice, i.e., to decide for
ourselves what we want to do, and instead, take God as our guide to make His will our choice.  If we decide this, it means we put our complete trust in Him.  He is the decider of right and wrong for us.  He is the Lord of our life, and we want a personal walk through life with Him.  This is faith, and we are given the undeserved gift of His love and forgiveness on the basis of that faith and that alone.  “By grace are you saved, through faith, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”.  Eph. 2:8

(We will have much more to say about this 5th chapter in the following essays.)