Paul says “all have sinned…” in Rom.3:23. And in Rom.5:12 Paul says that because of Adam’s sin death passed to all men, and because of this “all have sinned”. Is Paul saying something here that most have missed by reading this to mean all men who ever lived have sinned? Does the whole council of the word of God bear this out? Or even these chapters? Is this the doctrine Paul taught? Some or even most would say yes. But, let’s let the scriptures speak for themselves.
Reading further in Rom.5 Paul helps us understand whether he means all who have ever lived have sinned. Or if he is referring to a certain group of people that have all sinned. And we will also see that he makes it very clear how great a role free will plays in our salvation. Let’s go verse by verse to see how Paul helps us understand who the “all have sinned” are that he was referring to here in vs.12 and the rest of the chapter.
In vs.13 Paul says that because there was no law the sin these in vs.12 committed was not imputed to them by God. This means they were not condemned by God for their sins. And in vs.14 Paul says that even though their sins were not imputed to them death still reigned even over those who did not sin as Adam did. This verse should help those who have been deceived to believe all men sinned in Adam to realize that no one sinned in Adam. Otherwise Paul would have said all sinned just as Adam did. Not the other way around. So death is not the consequence of their having sinned in Adam.
Vs.15 is where things begin to be made more clear about who these people are that “all sinned” in vs.12. Here Paul writes “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.” Here we see that it is many, not all, that were dead, or better said were under death’s power, because of Adam’s sin. Just as many, not all, are under grace because of Jesus’ gift. So right away Paul shows us that he is not saying all are under death’s power. But, that only those who will not trust in God are. And that God’s grace has abounded to as many as will trust in Jesus. By teaching this Paul makes free will a very important component in salvation.
In vs.16 Paul writes “for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.” Here we see Paul saying that the condemnation that came upon many, not all, because of Adam’s one transgression, is as the gift that came by one unto justification even though there were many offenses. So here again Paul is making the case that the condemnation that came because of Adam’s sin works the same way as Jesus’ justification does. And because we know that men are justified by the free gift by believing in Jesus. So condemnation must be caused by unbelief. We will see that this won’t be the only time Paul makes this case in this chapter.
In vs.17 Paul says “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.” Here he explains that death reigned, not sin as so many have been taught, because of Adam’s sin. But, as we have seen death does not reign over all men. Just those who will not trust in God. Because those who trust in God are in the other camp where by believing in Jesus we reign with Him in life.
But, if Paul is teaching that it is a choice by man’s free will that places him either under the reign of death or one that reigns in life, and that it was not that all men sinned that placed them under death’s reign, we must see somewhere in the Bible that there are those who did not sin because they believed in God all their lives.
Do we see examples of those who all their lives believed in God? Yes we most certainly do in Luke1:5,6. Here we see that Zachariah and Elizabeth were two such people. Luke says they walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. This means if someone was to try to accuse them of violating even one of these there was no law one could point to that would condemn either of them. Because they kept them all. And because Israelites learned from day one throughout their lifetimes what the law said it was from day one that they were righteous according to the law. We see Paul say the same of himself in Phil.3:6. And the same being said of Job by God in Job1. So this blamelessness was not as uncommon among Israelites as some might lead us to believe.
Now that we have seen that Paul is not saying that all men have sinned. But, that only those have sinned who have chosen to of their own free will. We will move on to the next verse. Some are probably saying that Paul taught all have sinned in Rom.3:23. But, again is that what Paul meant in this passage? The answer is no. Because what this verse actually says is “all have missed the mark and are in need of God’s presence”. So this is yet another reference to those who do not know Jesus. But, because many do know Jesus we know this is not a reference to all mankind.
Moving on to vs.18 Paul says “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.” Here we see a problem that arises for those that believe when Paul says all have sinned in vs.12 he means all mankind. Because if Paul is saying that all mankind were condemned because of Adam’s sin apart from any choice of their own. Then Paul must also be understood to be saying here that all mankind are justified because of Jesus’ righteousness apart from any choice of their own.
This is why the Universalist mistakenly concludes that all men are saved regardless of their choice to believe in Jesus or not. Because they take what Paul wrote here out of context. And apply it as if this refers to all men. But, Paul said in Rom.10:9,10 that to have eternal life we must believe in Jesus and His resurrection. And Jesus said that knowing Him is eternal life in John17:3. So this means that eternal life is dependent on a choice every man must make by his own free will. A choice to either believe God or not. Which means that we are neither condemned, nor are we justified, because of someone else’s choices. But, only by our own choice to either believe or not believe in Jesus. So neither the Universalist or his cousin the Calvinist are correct when one says all are saved and the other says only those God chose are saved, apart from any choice of their own.
In vs.19 Paul says “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Here we see again the word many being used instead of the word all that Paul used in vs.12. By using the word many here Paul shows that free will is the reason for the condemnation or the justification brought about for us because of one man’s sin and another man’s obedience. It also shows that when Paul used the word all in vs.12 that his intention was that all would refer to all that reject God. So we can either choose to follow in the kind of disobedience Adam did in the garden and be condemned. Or we can choose to trust in Jesus for the gift of righteousness brought to us by His obedience in trusting the Father and be justified. It’s our choice to make. The word many here then refers to all those who do not believe in Jesus who are then condemned because of their own choice. Just as the word many in reference to Jesus refers to those who do trust in Him for justification unto eternal life.
In vs.20 and 21 Paul says “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
He shows us here why the law was given to Israel. Something Paul also covered in Gal.3:19. He says here it was given so that the offense might abound.
Saying that the offense of Adam abounded by bringing condemnation for all who choose to reject God. And that much more did grace abound when they chose to trust in God. So that as the sin of Adam brought into the earth the reign unto death for those who rejected God. So grace reigned through righteousness unto eternal life for those who would believe in Jesus. Free will being the operative component making these happen.
What I hope you have seen here is that Paul was not telling us that we are condemned to hell from birth because Adam’s sin was passed to all men. Because if that were true then babies who die go to hell. But, according to Jesus they do not. Because He said of little children “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt.19:14. So if you believe Jesus then you must also believe that little children go to heaven if they die. Proof that Paul was not teaching that all men are condemned to hell from conception because of Adam’s sin.
It is only when we reach an age where we know the difference between good and evil that our choices will determine our eternal destiny. Until then our eternal destiny is the kingdom of God. This is also why the Bible says names must be blotted out of the book of life. Because from conception every man’s name is written in the book of life. And only after a man dies never having trusted in Jesus is their name blotted out. Making the gift God gave of free will a very powerful tool.
Whether we will believe in Jesus and His resurrection for eternal life, or whether we reject Jesus’ gift, iIt’s up to us now. God has already done all that is needed for us to have eternal life. And Peter says plainly that it is God’s will that none should perish. All that is left is for us to choose by our own free will to accept His free gift when we are made aware of it. Which is why believers were given the ministry of reconciliation. So that all men will hear of God’s love for them.
Now you know that when someone tells you that the heart of all men who have ever lived is deceitful and wicked above all things and who can know it, they have misinterpreted the passage in Jeremiah17. Or when they quote Isaiah who said we like sheep have all gone astray means that Isaiah is referring to all mankind, they are once again twisting God’s word to fit their preconceived unBiblical salvation by works beliefs. Because just like Paul, Jeremiah and Isaiah are referring only to those who have rejected God by their own free will. And not all of mankind.
So the condemnation that leads to eternal death is not because men are bad. Or even because men inherit someone else’s being bad that somehow makes them bad. But, it is because men are flesh and blood that they can not inherit the kingdom of God. And as long as men remain flesh and blood just as Adam was when God made him they will return to the dust just as God said Adam would in Gen.3:19.
But, Jesus came so that men could be born of the Spirit of God to make them His spiritual children. We read this in John3:1-8. And when a men are spiritual children of God they become heirs to His spiritual kingdom. This is why the Bible says “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” in John1:12,13.
So don’t believe those who tell you all men are condemned to hell from birth because someone else was bad and you inherited it. And don’t believe those who tell you that you have eternal life already because all are saved because Jesus was obedient. These are salvation by works beliefs that Paul called anathema in Gal.1:8,9. So avoid believing these things like your life depends on it. Because it really does. These have taken Paul’s words and twisted them to fit their belief that salvation is by works. They have believed the false doctrine of original sin. Because God only saves those who want to be saved. He does not force Himself on anyone as Universalists and Calvinists believe. And that salvation has nothing to do with works whether done by us or Jesus. But, salvation is only by the faith of Christ as Paul said in Gal.2:16.
Do you want to be saved? Will you believe in Jesus for eternal life? If you will then please pray with me now.
Dear Jesus, I trust in you now. Thank you for joining with me in my death. So that I could join with you in your eternal life. Thank you for making me a spirit so that I can relate to you. And thank you for filling me with your Holy Spirit so that He can relate to me. Lead me and guide me for the rest of my life so that I will know you and your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now when you read the Bible believe what it plainly says. And listen to the Holy Spirit that is in you for guidance into all truth. God bless you in your new life in Christ.
See you there or in the air!
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