Hearing, Stepping, Falling … and Standing

Tom Burke

May/June 2004
© 2004 Scriptural Study Groups.  All Rights Reserved.

The book of Romans contains a tremendously enlightening section that explains briefly how, due to one man’s sin, all of mankind could become sinners. It also explains how, due to one man’s righteous act, all who believe on him could be made righteous. This vital declaration is found in Romans chapter five.

Romans 5:12–14
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Adam had been given a specific commandment, which he willingly disobeyed. In the time of Moses, man was again given a specific, written law. Thus, the transgression of those who broke the Law of Moses was similar to that of Adam. Yet, in the years between Adam and the giving of the law, even without a specific commandment, man still willingly rebelled against God.

Romans 5:15, 16
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

The word “condemnation” is frequently used to refer to a feeling of guilt or sin-consciousness. Here, however (see also verse 18), it is used not of a feeling, but of a legally determined guilt (sin) and a subsequent sentence (death). In Christ, this has been countered by a legally obtained justification, or righteousness – a spiritual ‘rightness with God’ that could never have been obtained by mankind’s own works.

When this truth lives within me, I can live life with new purpose, with unshaken confidence, and with great power.

Romans 5:17
For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Being Adam’s blood descendents, we inherit his sin, and the consequences of it, at birth. But, when we believe on Jesus Christ, we become as intimately associated with him, by spirit, as we are with Adam, by blood. Thus, all of the achievement of Jesus Christ becomes fully ours in the new birth just as completely as Adam’s transgression became ours in the first birth. And this new association is by far the greater one: it not only pays for Adam’s sin, but for all sins of all mankind.

Romans 5:18, 19
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

I suggest that you spend time examining this section of Scripture. Immerse yourself in it. For here God makes it clear that though our spiritual condition was indeed dire, in Christ we have been given righteousness — not a mystical feeling, but a legal, binding, eternal reality. When this truth lives within me, I can live life with new purpose, with unshaken confidence, and with great power.

There is one other aspect of this section that should be examined, but is not obvious in the King James Version. In the Greek text, however, it is quickly apparent that in these few verses, there are several occurrences of words beginning with the Greek suffix para, which means ‘aside,’ or ‘beside.’ Taken together, they paint a picture of Adam’s fall, the law’s limitations, and our daily choice.

Verse 19 refers to one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience. This is the Greek word parakoe, which literally means to ‘hear aside.’ Verse 14 refers to Adam’s transgression. This word is parabasis, which means to ‘step aside.’ Verse 15 refers to the offence, which is paraptoma, meaning to ‘fall aside.’ Taken together, these describe Adam’s sin — hearing something contrary to God’s Word, stepping towards it, and falling into the ditch.

The next use of the suffix para is in verse 20: “the law entered.” The word used here is pareiserchomai — ‘to creep in or slip in beside.’ The law joined man in the ditch, and had much to share. It showed man that he was indeed in a ditch, and how deep that ditch really was. But it could not help him out. Only one thing could do that — righteousness, given by God’s grace through the completed work of Jesus Christ.

This righteousness accomplished what no law ever could, and it is ours when we believe on Jesus Christ.

Righteousness is ours! Now, only one choice remains for the believer.

Romans 6:13
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

The word “yield” in this verse is the Greek word paristemi, which means ‘to place beside, or to stand beside.’ As righteous ones, we are now free to live righteously. Or we can continue to live unto the flesh, as poor slaves who, though free, are ignorant of their liberty, or fearful of its vastness.

In addition, this word is in the active voice, indicating a continuing rather than a one-time action. Each day, each moment, each thought, we are free to choose to stand, with everything we are, beside the One who freed us or to stand where we used to stand. The choice we make will determine the fruitfulness of our lives.

Let’s choose to stand beside God, where our lives can be an exhibit of the perfect righteousness that He has bestowed on us so freely.