"The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20-21)
Are you surprised to know that the law (think ten commandments and everything found in the first few books of the Bible) gives power to sin?
Yup, you heard me right; the law makes sin more powerful. It took a silent force operating in the world and made it a destructive, all-encompassing enslaving force because God wrote it down and now there is a standard.
In fact, the law brought the death Adam was warned about (Gen 2:17) but until the law, God did not even consider nor hold sin against humanity (Rom. 5:13), but afterwards, there was a lot to condemn humanity with.
But admittedly, the law serves its purpose well, which is to highlight sin. To make it apparent, to show us we can never be free of it and save ourselves. Its purpose is to condemn us, period (Rom. 7:10, Gal. 3:10, 23).
Here’s the paradox, in the same way that the law, or God’s written standards, highlight and magnify our sin, that same sin highlights and magnifies God’s grace.
Paul is saying God defined His standards, so we recognized all sin as sin and the result highlights God’s grace and patience with sin. His grace increases in response to the power of sin keeping us in bondage to it.
Here’s the good news, although it’s easy to see the devastation our sin and brokenness unleash in the world, we can confidently know that God’s grace is also increasing in response to sin. While we don’t always see righteousness reigning the same way sin does, Jesus broke the power of sin and death with his resurrection from the dead. Jesus is ushering a new way to live, empowered by His very own spirit living in us.
Name the hope that sparks in you when you read this sentence, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”
Think of a time where you experienced God’s grace overshadowing the power of sin.
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Original article published October 12, 2009.