Why is it so hard for some to believe Romans 5:18?


Question: Could you explain to me why I’m among the very few who quote Romans 5:18? It’s a joy to read and I’m glad I’ve discovered it! My pastor tried to explain it away. I don’t understand the resistance to accepting it.

Response: You’ve seen, or read, our series on Romans, correct? I talk about all of that in detail in that series. But I think you’re asking a much more personal and painful question to which you already know the answer… but, probably, could use some affirmation anyway.

I don’t know your pastor, but I think the answer (God will reveal this) is self-righteousness. In Romans 5:18 it’s the righteousness of the one man (Christ, the last Adam) that is miraculously imparted to all of Adam (us). And so all “self-righteousness” is an evil illusion sometimes called ego or pride. Like all of us, to some degree, your pastor has faith in Me-sus (Salvation is “me”) rather than Je-sus (Yahweh is salvation). Your faith, which is Paul’s faith, which is the faith of Jesus, and faith in Jesus, is a threat to the faith of your pastor. BUT it’s also a threat to all of us–the “old man.” So, your pastor probably believes a little, but he needs help with his unbelief. You are a threat to his idol (me-sus) which is a gift to him–painful, but still a great gift.

I like to translate John 3:16 rather literally: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten (so if we are to be begotten again, it would have to be him begotten in us or us begotten in him) that all believing in him might not be lost but have the life of the age to come (he is that life, he became a life giving spirit).” If one reads the rest of John, one realizes that “belief,” faith, is absolute gift, which is entirely in line with Romans 5:18 and 1 Cor. 15–the “last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” By taking credit for the decision we call faith, we renounce God’s decision to give us his Spirit through the work of Christ. I think this must be blasphemy of the Spirit. Which means that your pastor will have to repent in order to be saved and enter the Kingdom.

PS You’re one of the very few, because you have been chosen as a “first fruit;” you are a chosen witness to the “excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).” If there are first fruits, there are more fruits, including your pastor.

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