What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;…
inasmuch as —
I. He is UNDER THE IMPUTATION OF SIN. And whose sin? Adam's; for he had been placed by his Maker in the situation of head and representative of all his descendants. And because he rendered himself guilty, therefore we, being in him and identified with him, were made sharers of his guilt. This, of course, is a statement against which the pride of human reason will rebel. But if you will listen to the Word of God, turn to Romans 5:12, etc. And what puts this matter beyond all doubt is the way in which all through that passage Paul represents our sin and condemnation in Adam, as parallel and as correspondent to our righteousness and salvation by Christ. He tells you here, that just as believers are accounted righteous in Christ's righteousness, so they were held as sinners on account of Adam's sin. As Christ's obedience now justifies them, because accounted theirs, so was Adam's disobedience.
II. HIS NATURE IS UNDER THE DEGRADING AND POLLUTING INFLUENCE OF SIN. Now this also he inherits from Adam. "Original sin is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil" (Art. 9; Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Psalm 51:5; Romans 7:18; Romans 8:7). In support of this we may appeal —
1. To the individual conscience.
2. To the page of history.
3. To the witness of travellers.
4. To the reports of newspapers.
III. HE IS HELD IN BONDAGE BY THE TYRANNY OF SIN. This is more than being depraved and corrupt: it is a positive enslaving of the will. Man cannot of himself turn from evil to God. The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will" (Art. 10; Romans 5:6; Ephesians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:14).
1. Well may this thought stir us earnestly to cry to God to send down His Spirit, and give us the strength He only can communicate.
2. Sin, indeed, would whisper, "You can do nothing, and therefore you need not care; the fault is not your own." Perish the thought! No, rather say, "I can do nothing; therefore, O God, create Thou a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me."
IV. HE IS UNDER THE CONDEMNATION AND THE CURSE OF SIN.
1. AS a partaker of Adam's guilt, he is included in the sentence of Adam's punishment.
2. As he is corrupt, he incurs the wrath due to his own iniquity.
3. As one sold under sin, he must, if left to himself, be consigned to a hopeless state of misery (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 7:5; Romans 6:23).Conclusion:
1. Have we felt these truths so as to cry, "What must I do to be saved"? That is the question which constitutes the first step in the way of salvation.
2. The gospel brings us instead of Adam's guilt, Christ's righteousness; instead of inherent corruption, the counteracting balm of the Holy Spirit; instead of the bondage of sin, "the glorious liberty of the children of God"; instead of "the wages of sin," which "is death," the "gift of God, eternal life."
(J. Harding, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;