May 1, 1999
Thrust Statement: Where sin increased, grace increased more.
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:20-21.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20-21).
The purpose of this message is to give encouragement to those whose hearts are dark and black with sin. The objective of this sermon is to give hope to those without hope. The design of this sermon is to create peace of mind for the troubled mind. The intent of this message is to call attention to God’s grace. The words “grace increased all the more” should thrill everyone’s heart to the core. When anyone considers the blackness of his/her own heart, then these verses penned by Paul should cause every Christian to sing with thankfulness. Are you conscious of the glory that God has brought about “in and through” Christ. This accomplishment of redemption in Christ dwarfs and engulfs even the mighty acts of God in Creation. In the creation of the world, God spoke and it was done, but in redemption, it took Calvary to bring about man’s salvation—not just spoken words. Are you rejoicing in the victory of grace over sin? Are you under grace? Or are you under law? If you are under grace, then you are “in Christ.” If you are under law, then you are in Adam. No man/woman can appreciate the greatness and the glory of grace unless he/she has a clear understanding of what sin has done to him/her and to everyone else since the fall of Adam.
The Law of God does not make man sinful, but rather, it displays his sinfulness. In the presence of God’s perfect standard, everyone sees his/her shortcomings. Is there a person here today that is not conscious of his/her own imperfection or his/her own weakness. Can anyone say, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). The design of the Law is the revealing of man’s offences. No one can look at the law of God and be vocal in his/her defense. No, God’s law shuts every man’s mouth:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin (Romans 3:19-20).
The Law of God drives everyone out of self-righteousness and into the Lord Jesus Christ through “whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). It is the sinner who has had a glimpse of hell who is most appreciative of the glories of heaven. Paul paints a rather dismal picture of man’s utter helplessness when he/she looks at the Law of God. There is no justification through the Law because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But God in His infinite love and mercy provides a way of redemption. This salvation is through faith in the blood of Jesus: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:23).
Paul says that it is “through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20). The Law of God stirs the mud at the bottom of the pool and proves how wretched the waters are. The Law compels man to see that sin dwells in him. The Law reveals our transgressions and empties us of our self-righteousness. The Law drives us to the Lord Jesus “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). The Law strips everyone of his/her cloak of self-justification and drives everyone to seek the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Paul writes very pungently concerning the severity of the Law: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19).
Every man and woman stands naked before God. If anyone desires to stand clothed before God, it must be with the righteousness of God—righteousness made available through Jesus. Paul writes: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). Thank God that this justification or right standing before God is by grace, not by works. Again, Paul captures the unsearchable riches of Christ in his Roman letter: “. . . justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Are you conscious of the meaning of “grace”? Are you aware that there could be no grace if there were no guilt? Are you sensitive to the meaning of “mercy”? There can be no mercy where there is no sin.
If you have never broken the Law, then you are not guilty. If you think that you have never sinned, then you will not care for this message—“Grace Increased More.” If you do not care for this message, you will never ask for grace, because you have no sense of shame. Before you can accept the mercy of God, you must plead guilty to the formal charge of the Law of God—“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). You are not in a position to receive grace until the Law shuts your mouth. The Law is designed to bring you to grace. Do you wish to escape condemnation? If so, it must be through faith. Paul says, the “law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15), but “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). I hasten to add, if you are in Christ, you are no longer under law (Romans 7); Since this is so, then you are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1). This is the point that Paul stresses to the Christians at Rome: “where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15).
Our major text today is: “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). Before Paul makes this statement, he develops the scenario of how one sin overthrew all humanity. In other words, the world still suffers as a result of Adam’s sin: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Again, Paul forcefully brings home this point: “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” (Romans 5:17).
Once more, I call attention to the words of our text: “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). The Lord Jesus came into the world, not only to put away Adam’s sin, but all the sins that have followed. The world is full of sin. But “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Paul in this letter gives us proof concerning the increase of grace: “Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification” (Romans 5:16). Thank God that the Divine Substitute has put away those sins committed by men and women since the first offense in the Garden of Eden. Thus, Paul calls attention to the justice of God in presenting Jesus as the Divine Substitute for the sins of mankind:
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).
“Grace increased all the more” as a result of God’s presenting Jesus as the means of salvation for sinful man. Yes, Jesus bore our sins upon the cross of Calvary. John the Baptist describes the mission of Jesus this way: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Isaiah, 700 years before the Logos became flesh, foretold the purpose of Jesus coming:
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken (Isaiah 53:4-8).
Are we rejoicing in the victory of grace over sin? Yes, we rejoice because we have understood this “increased more,” and we have a sense of victory and now go boldly into the presence of God through Jesus our High Priest. The Hebrew writer captures this privilege of those under grace: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). We have assurance; we have joy.
But are you asking the question, what about the darkness and blackness of my own heart? Yes, you begin there! You must start there! Why? Because this consciousness of your own sinful nature will cause you to fly to Christ and rejoice in the superabundance of grace. The more you know about the blackness of your own heart the more you will sing about God’s grace—“grace increased all the more.”
Oakwood Hills church
DeFuniak Springs, FL
 All Scripture citations are from The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984 unless stated otherwise.