Know Your Enemy

March 1, 2020

Pastor John Hering

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:12-19

The high school football players are in the team room ready to play for the championship on Saturday.  The coach steps in and says, “Boys, in order for us to be ready to play, we’ve got to know our enemy.”  These are golden words for a team preparing for a game, about to take a test at school, a person about to undergo cancer treatment, or even buying bait to go fishing this afternoon.  When there are big events in life “You’ve Got To Know Your enemy.”  But, learning about your enemy could be a little bit like asking, “Where do babies come from?”  It can be uncomfortable for everyone!  Do you really want to know the answer?  How about when it comes to knowing Satan?  You really want to know all about Satan and his demons!  We know who Satan is from God’s Word.  He is a murderer, liar and professional trapper.   For Adam and Eve he found the tree, set the trap and watched them step into the snare.   The power of the devil is real and it’s tied to sin and death.  As we begin this Lenten season and ponder the battle against Satan, wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a guy who could talk positively, victoriously, and with authority about sin, death and the devil so we could know our enemies?  Well, I think I know a guy….

You might be surprised who it is.  You see, God gave us a description of this person and has a way of speaking victoriously about this person.  You don’t have to plug your ears when I talk about Satan, sin, death, or even as horrible as hell.  Yes, these are real enemies, but there’s another dog in this fight.  It is the person Paul introduces to us in Romans 5.  That person is YOU!  It’s you because of Jesus, the 2nd Adam in you.  Today Paul compares your two Adams (sinner and saint) so you can:

Know Your Enemy

Not for the creeps

Romans 5 is the chapter that Paul talks about our two Adams.  The first Adam comes from…. You guessed it!  Adam and Eve and all humans that have come from them (that’s everybody).  The second Adam is the New Life we have in Christ Jesus.  In Romans 5 Paul has one foot in the Garden of Eden and one foot in the desert in order to make a comparison.   The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to declare something about these two Adams using language you would find in a courtroom so We Can Know Our Enemy.

Paul starts out like this: 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.  If you think the Coronavirus is a big deal, what Paul said is bigger!  The infection of sin has been and continues to be global—infecting everyone!  I can prove it.  Go ahead—step up to the plate and take your swings at life.  You can’t strike out even once, and if you do—you’ll die!   Well?  How do you expect you’ll do?  Since day one the outcome has been the same.  One death per person.  Why?  Because we are all infected with Adam’s sin.

Because you’re more than just an imitation of Adam, you’re intimately connected to him by nature.  Here’s how Paul makes this point: 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam…  We know God gave his law in writing to Moses on Mt Sinai – about 2,500 years after Adam lived.  So, there was no written law of God to break between this time, yet, we also know everyone died between Adam and Moses. Why?  They didn’t break any written law!  You can’t be judged to be a law breaker without a law, can you?  Correct, they didn’t break any written law on paper, but they broke the law written in their hearts.

Think of it like this:  There’s a sign with a big balloon hanging overhead that says, “Don’t pull the cord.”  The sign is there because the balloon releases Coronavirus into the air.   Adam knew this command, but he walked over to the rope, pulled it and died.   Now, every person born in this room are people infected with “the Coronavirus of sin” even though they never pulled the cord.  All the people born in the room are infected because they were all in the same world Adam was in.  The same is true for you.  You were born sin-filled and infected because you were born from parents who were already sin infected.  It is the worst inheritance we could get from our parents that gives us the creeps!

But, Paul doesn’t share this with us to creep us out, rather he wants us to know our enemy.  And when we know our enemy of sin, we can easily see how Paul makes a parallel comparison to how we think about Jesus.  15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! There’s a reason Jesus is called the “Second Adam.”  The two Adam are similar in that they both have an effect on all people.  There is only one through whom you were born a sinner—Adam.  And there is only one through whom you are declared not guilty of all your sins—Jesus.

Remember when I said Paul has one foot in the Garden of Eden and one foot in the desert.   Now, it’s time to see where that foot is in the desert.  Look, he is standing next to a weary Savior starving on the desert floor.  Surprising to see Jesus here.  “Jesus, what are you doing here?  You’re the sinless Son of God!  You were conceived by the Holy Spirit without sin, yet born of a women to share my flesh and blood.   Why are you here?”  You know Jesus’ answer: “I’m here to be tempted by the devil just like you were, but without sin.”  Did you just have a déjà vu? Adam and Eve were sinless in the Garden until they fell into the devil’s trap and corrupted us all.  Jesus, our Second Adam, knew his enemy perfectly.  As true man he was tempted just like Adam and us, but he never ate the fruit.  Rather, Jesus kept his Father’s will perfectly in every aspect.  Then as true God Jesus gave us the gift of powerful perfection as our Substitute on the cross!  Jesus’ perfect obedience overflows to you.  Dear Friends, Jesus doesn’t give us the creeps, but

Jesus Gives us Confidence!

At the cross the comparison between the First Adam and the Second Adam crosses from comparison to contrast.  Listen: 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! You see, if you think what Adam and Eve did was powerful in that it infected the whole human race, then think again of how doubly powerful Jesus, the Second Adam is, in that he credited forgiveness for all our sins!   Adam’s sin brought death to all.  God’s grace in Jesus Christ brought life to all.  Yes, we know our enemies—sin, death and the devil, but we know and love our Savior even more!  What confidence is yours because Jesus offered his holy, powerful life as the perfect payment for all your sins!  18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  What confidence is yours because you know in Adam you were declare guilty and in Jesus you were declared not guilty!

Do you see how our confidence in Jesus changes our whole perspective on the role of faith?  It’s not about what you do, what you must become, or even trying to prove yourself to God to earn his eternal gift.  Faith rests on knowing who our enemy is and who we are—a descendant of Adam and a child of God.  Faith has one function—to receive the promise that God has to offer.  Here it is: 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.  God wants you to know your enemy, but he also wants you to believe in his deliverance through Jesus.  This is God’s gift to you.  It is God’s gift to the world!  He brought you that gift in your baptism and reassures you of that gift today in the Lord’s Supper.

I know you’ll face challenges and you’ll want to know all about those challenges so you can meet them head on to defeat them, or be successful, or be blessed.  Of all the enemies we’ll face, there are none that would creep us out more than sin, death and the devil.  You are equipped in the Lord Jesus so when you hear the enemy say, “God doesn’t love you, because he took a loved one away from you in death,” or “What kind of a loving God would allow you to lose your job, or have your relationship go south?”  Sometimes the enemy says, “Get control of your life!  Are you really going to be so frail from depression, sickness or that pet sin you just can’t overcome?”  But, you know a guy, and that guy is your New Adam in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Don’t be creeped out learning about sin, death and the devil, rather rejoice with confidence that you know your enemies well.  Rejoice because you know Jesus defeated them all for you.  Amen.

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