What Does Romans 5:20 Mean?

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Romans 5:20(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

When Adam sinned, death came into the world. But until the Law was given through Moses... over 2000 years later, death continued to reign in the lives of all men - even though man had been given no specific laws to keep or any specific criteria for righteousness. Every man however, had a conscience and knew in their heart those things that were good and that which was evil.

The perfect Law of God came in later and was given to God's people, Israel, so that humanity could understand that there was a God-given standard of righteousness. Up until the Law was given, men were unaware that they were breaking God's standard of holiness because no standard had been given. Nevertheless, death reigned in the bodies of every fallen man... and the wages of sin is death - which means experiencing eternal condemnation being separated from God.

It was the original sin of one man - Adam, that caused the entire human race to be placed under the condemnation of God - and death was the awful penalty for humanities sin. All Adam's progeny were condemned to death as a result of his one sin. All were sinners who were separated from the holy God. All Adam's offspring were born in sin - with a sin nature, and all had the shadow of death upon them.

Although man's God-given conscience recognised the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, the Law was given to Israel so that the sinfulness of man could be identified as sin. Once the Law was given, men were able to recognise that they were breaking God's standard of holiness.

The more men recognised their sin, the more they realised their desperate need of forgiveness - of salvation - of reconciliation with their Creator God. However, the more men sinned, the more they realised that the Law was impossible for anyone of us to keep. The more man recognised his sinfulness, the more sin increased and the more man knew he was guilty. But the more that sin increased and the more that man became aware of his sinfulness - so God's grace was able to abound towards man.

God's Law came to increase and expand men's awareness of their trespasses and sin, because the Law defined sin and unmasked man's transgressions. But because sin increased and men recognised their sinfulness, the more God's remarkable gift of grace expanded to cleanse the penitent sinner. And more men sinned... the more God's grace was increased.

As the father of the human race, Adam's sin-nature and the deathly consequence which resulted from his sin in the garden, has been imputed to his entire race. How shocking!!! We are sinners because Adam - the federal head of the entire human race sinned. As Adam's offspring, we are imputed with unrighteousness and remain under God's condemnation. As Adam's progeny, we all have an imputed sin nature - man sins because we are all sinners. Before the Law, men had no righteous standard by which to live - but they were still sinners and so death continued to reign in every life - for ALL fall short of God's glory. How shocking!!!

Some consider that God was unjust to condemn the whole human race because of one man's sin - but in reality this is the most gracious and loving action imaginable, "for as through the one man's disobedience (ADAM's sin) the manywere made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One Man (JESUS CHRST and His sacrifice for sin) many will be made righteous."

Condemnation for all resulted from Adam's ONE sin, but righteousness is awarded to all by faith - because of Christ's ONE act of righteousness. We were identified with Adam's sin by birth, and as a result we became sinners by association with Adam. However, we are identified by Christ's righteousness by our rebirth through faith and as a result, have become righteous by association with Christ. Because of Christ, we have been declared righteous by God. How amazing!!!

Though we all became sinners through the single sin of one man, we all have the opportunity to be made righteous because of the single sacrifice of One Man - Jesus Christ the righteous, and whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

So WHY did God give the Law over 2000 years after Adam sinned? Well, the Law came in so that the transgression would increase. The Law was given so that fallen man could recognise his sin. The Law was God's standard of righteousness to which we could not attain, but once it was given, it increasingly identified the depth of our own, terrible sin. Because the Law was given, man came to recognise his desperate need of a Saviour.

As an example, Paul himself would not have realised that covetousness was a sin, without it being listed in the Law. Without knowledge of God's given standard, none of us would be able to measure ourselves against God's perfect standard of holiness. The more we identify our faults and failings, the more the Law is carrying out its predetermined task - which is to cause each one of us to recognise that we are sinners so that we may cry out to Christ for Salvation, knowing that He paid the price for our sin - which is DEATH.

BUT, where sin increased (through the giving of the Law), grace abounded all the more (through faith in the sacrifice of Christ). Once we start to recognise that we are sinners, we start to understand the amazing love of God, the forgiveness of sins, and His over-abounding grace which is ours by faith in the sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Once sin is exposed in our life - the more precious the grace of God and the forgiveness we receive by faith becomes. God's grace and His unmerited favour is increasingly revealed to us when we recognise the depth of our sin. But His grace continues to be poured out on a sinful race. Grace upon more grace is poured out upon all who by faith in Christ's sacrificial work on Calvary - as we are not only forgiven of our sins - but declared righteous before a holy God. Praise His holy name!

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, the more I recognise my sinfulness, the more I understand the incredible grace that is being poured out on me and on all humanity. Thank You that the more my sin is exposed, the more I realise what amazing grace has been bestowed on me - and on all who have trusted Christ for salvation, for the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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