“Be careful who you run around with.” Most parents relate this warning to their teens as they begin their flight to independence. The admonition ends with, “For you know if your friends do wrong, you will be guilty by association.”
The apostle Paul shows us the truth behind those words in the book of Romans, chapter 5.
“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.” (5:12)
By birth we bear the image of our first father, Adam. The following portions of scripture are taken from 1 Corinthians 15 to show our relationship to Adam.
“For since by man came death…
For as in Adam all die…
The first man Adam was made a living soul…
The first man is of the earth, earthy…
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy…
And as we have borne the image of the earth…
flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…” (21,22,45,47-50).
That is why Paul can say, “all have sinned.” And in Romans 3:10 states,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NO ONE;”
Such is the state of us all, even if we haven’t sinned Adam’s sin. It’s not so much what we do but who we are. We are born earthy and bear his image.
“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.” Romans 5:14.
The one to come would bear a different image from the first man described in Corinthians. The second man described would bring,
“the resurrection of the dead…
even so in Christ shall all be made alive…
the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…
the second man is the Lord from heaven…
as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly…
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (From 1 Corinthians 15)
If the negative, guilt by association holds true, then the positive, righteousness by association must also hold true. As by one man came the judgment, so by one man comes grace extending us righteousness.
Jesus Christ is that man.
“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…
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.)
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 justifications of life.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,
so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous…
as sin hath reigned unto death,
even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord…” Romans 5:15,17-19,21.
God’s grace extends his righteousness to the followers of Christ through faith in his finished work on the cross. Without this righteousness we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Paul writes of receiving this righteousness using Abraham as an example.
- “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief;
- but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
- And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform
- And therefore IT WAS IMPUTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Now it was not written for his sake alone,
that it was imputed to him;
but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed,
if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Who was delivered for our offences,
and was raised again for our justification.”
In Adam we were born servants of sin.
“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” Romans 6:20.
In Christ we are become the servants of God.
“But now being made free from sin,
and become servants to God,
ye have your fruit unto holiness,
and the end everlasting life..
For the wages of sin is death;
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Two men, two ways, which are you associating with?