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  • Brent Nelson

Counted Twice (Romans 5:18-19)

[Therefore,] as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. ¹⁹For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. —Romans 5:18-19

When the first American astronaut stepped on the moon, all of humanity felt ennobled. When a star point guard shoots a miracle game-winning buzzer-beater, the whole team wins. When a football field goal kicker splits the uprights to win the Super Bowl, even the team’s injured get a ring.

All these are faint pictures of the greatest Envoy conceivable. Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life in obedience to his Father. Not merely for his own sake; but as the representative of all who trust in him. Christ’s righteousness is accounted to us by the Divine Accountant.

It seems impossible. We can’t wrap our minds around this truth because it seems too good to be true. To help press it deep into our souls, we see that Christ’s righteousness is not the first imputation we’ve experienced. All of humanity tasted the bitter taste of sin, and its outcome, death, when Adam’s first act of disobedience was imputed to all humankind.

No one should have any trouble believing in the universal curse of sin and death. What’s clear from Scripture is this breathtaking idea that because Adam (our first father) sinned, all humanity stands condemned before God. Because Adam disobeyed, we are all made sinners.

Yet even more stunning is the hope these verses in Romans 5 supply. If we can be reckoned as sinners by Adam’s sin, we can surely be counted righteous by Christ’s obedience. What news could be better than that? It all comes by looking away from ourselves and simply trusting in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul invites us to join him in this saving faith. He longs to be “found in [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).

No wonder Charles Spurgeon proclaimed in his 1871 sermon, The Fourfold Treasure, “Beloved hearer, there is no joy in this world like union with Christ. The more we can feel it, the happier we are…”

Every human being has been counted once as guilty in Adam. My prayer and hope is that you also have been counted twice: the second time as righteous in Christ!


For Reflection

  1. Have you trusted in Christ, even if you feel like you have more to learn?

  2. Describe how it feels to be counted guilty in Adam.

  3. Can you put into your own words the joy of being united to Christ?


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