Before reading your passage today, take a deep breath, relax, open your heart to what God wants to say to you through His word, and pray this simple prayer from the Psalms: show me your way, teach me your path, guide me in your truth.
Passage for today: Romans 5:12-21
I highly recommend checking this out in the Message Translation!
Today Paul takes us back to the beginning of a story, written by the Great Author God. Have you ever read the account of creation in Genesis? If you have some extra time today, you could go back and read Genesis 1-3, but I’ll nutshell it for you here. It started with a setting: earth, an unspoiled paradise of billowing waves, vibrant sea animals, peculiar looking land creatures, wondrous colors, magnificent sunsets, and astounding forests. It was the settings of all settings. And it was perfect. But a setting is not a story until it has a character.
And so, out of the dust, a character was formed. First one, then another. Made in the image of perfection, set in the setting of perfection. Man and Woman, together. Made for each other and in harmony with their Author.
But, like in any good story, conflict entered in the form of a serpent, and he manipulated Eve to eat the fruit on the one tree they weren’t supposed to eat from--breaking the boundary God had set to keep them safe. He convinced them that God was holding out on them, so it wouldn’t be a big deal to go against his way. (Ever been there?) So, against God’s desire, mankind chose to write their own story, thinking that somehow they could write a better one. Thinking that if they were their own author they would have ultimate freedom, freedom to choose their own path, to dream their own dreams and pen their own destiny.
But it was in grasping at this “freedom” that their hands ended up bound. The very freedom they tried to master ended up enslaving them, for the burden of writing their own story would eventually be their destruction. And this is why today, when we look around, we see a world with a story that’s full of selfishness, bitterness, apathy, indifference, greed, and death.
But, what Paul is talking about in Romans 5 is that from the moment of the fall of man, God had a plan to make Himself available to us again.
There is a really cool verse tucked away in the account of creation in Genesis 3:14. It’s God speaking, and it’s found within the consequences being given to the man, woman and serpent because of their sin. God says to the serpent, “I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.” Now this may not make a lot of sense at first glance, but it’s actually in this very moment, the first moment of their sin, God was already making a way for their redemption because that is actually the first reference to, the first prophecy of, Jesus. (See Romans 16:20.)
Even as the Author watched the characters in His story walk away, He kept on writing. Now, in a new setting outside of perfection, He began to write His magnificent story of redemption, a new story that would allow his characters to choose Him and let Him write their story once again. A story that would bring them back to what he created them for in the first place.
From this point on, the rest of the Old Testament is the beautiful story of how God would reunite his wayward people back to Himself through His Son.
And as we get to our final verses in Romans 5 today, Paul sums it up for us: “Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life!” (Romans 5:18-19, MSG)
In this passage Paul is describing the very heart of the whole Gospel or the Good News; the whole reason Paul believes in Jesus and the reason 2,000 years later, we are all the way across the world and still talking about Him. Paul is taking us back to Adam (the first man) and juxtastaposing him against Jesus (God as a man) saying, “One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right” (Romans 5:19, MSG).
When my daughter was little, she had to get a tooth pulled, and she was in so much pain after she woke up from surgery. She just moaned and swayed and cried. As I sat with her, I teared up, and all I could think about was how badly I wished I could take her place.
Have you ever felt that way? Maybe it was your toddler throwing up all over the floor, your friend having to get chemotherapy, your dad in the hospital, and maybe you even said those words, “I wish I could switch places with you, do this for you, so you didn’t have to.”
That is what God has done for us. God, as our Father and Savior, looked upon this sick world and said, let me switch places with you, so you don’t have to be broken anymore.
God’s love for mankind is not a sweet, patronizing love, the kind you might feel for a puppy or a pastry or a pair of pants; His love for us is a passionate, feel-it-in-your-gut, kind of love. His love is a lay-everything-down-even-your-own-life kind of love, and that’s what He planned from the first moment of Adam and Eve’s fall, and that’s what He planned for you from the first moment of yours.
It is significant enough for us that God would have a plan to fix us and our brokenness, but what I also love about the Creation story is that right after their sin, it says God sewed fig leaves together to meet Adam and Eve right where they were at in their shame. He doesn’t just leave them out there, naked and exposed; He gently creates clothes for them, covers them up and begins writing their new story.
And that same Author continues to write this story of redemption, the redemption of me and you. And, if we’ll let Him pick up the pen, He will lift the burden you have of writing your own story and to wrap you into the fold of the greatest story ever told.
This is the good news for us today, that “sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end” (Romans 5:21, MSG).
Today, write down or say out loud a prayer in your own words.
The enemy has so much power over us when he can convince us to keep our shame hidden. Would you consider, this week, bringing something you may be hiding into the light? Perhaps you need to tell a trusted friend, perhaps your group or just someone in your group. Maybe you tell a counselor or someone else you trust about something that the enemy wants to keep using to pull you back into the dark. Brene Brown says that, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Could we find the courage this week to show up and be real with the things that are holding us back? Perhaps it’s something you can consider risking this week.
(See if you can commit to memory, or commit to remember this verse this week.)
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5, NLT)