For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
–Romans 5:17

In Romans 5, Paul contrasted the condemnation from Adam’s sin with the salvation from Christ’s obedience. He said that condemnation resulted in death, but salvation results in life.

Imagine you work for a company whose CEO makes a terrible decision that sends the company into a tailspin. Thousands of people, including you, are laid off. The board of directors finally fires the CEO and hires a new guy who turns the company around and rehires you. Not only does the new guy give you back your original position, but he promotes you to a higher position. The last CEO was certainly better than the first one, wasn’t he? That is the same thing that happens when we become a Christian. Through Jesus Christ we are not only restored to where Adam was before he sinned, but we get a promotion from Adam’s position. When God created Adam in the Garden, Adam was sinless, but he was not righteous. But when we trust in Christ, God declares us righteous. And not only are we declared righteous, but we have been elevated to reign through Jesus Christ. Condemnation resulted in death, but salvation results in life.

Another contrast between the condemnation from Adam’s sin and the salvation from Christ’s obedience is this: condemnation is automatic, but salvation is optional. “If by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (5:17).

If you do not read this passage carefully, you might mistakenly conclude, “Adam’s sin resulted in condemnation for everybody. Christ’s righteousness results in righteousness for everybody.” In fact, many people mistakenly use this passage to say everybody is going to Heaven. But that is not what the text says. Everybody is affected by Adam’s sin, but only those who receive God’s gift of forgiveness are affected by Christ’s righteousness. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” Who is connected to Adam? Everyone. In Adam all die. But only those who are in Christ shall be made alive. Who is in Christ? Not everyone. Only those who receive the gift of righteousness.

The good news of the gospel is that your salvation has already been purchased for you. There is no way you and I could ever earn it. Salvation is available to everyone who receives it as a gift. Paul said in Romans 5:17, “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Condemnation is automatic, but salvation is optional. John said it this way in John 1:12: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “One for All” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.