“Sin must not be master over you, seeing that you are . . . under undeserved kindness.”
1, 2. How can Romans 5:12 help us?
ROMANS 5:12 says: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” This is one of the verses we know very well and one we often use when we teach people about the Bible.
2 That verse is used many times in the books What Does the Bible Really Teach? and What Can the Bible Teach Us? When we study chapters 3, 5, and 6 with our children and others, we will likely read Romans 5:12. We might use this verse to help them understand why the earth is not a paradise, why we need the ransom, and why we die. But this verse can also help all of us to deepen our gratitude for our relationship with Jehovah. It can help us to be more determined to please him and to keep looking forward to the things he has promised us.
3. What must we remember about our situation?
3 Sadly, we are all sinners. We make mistakes every day. But Jehovah is merciful. He knows that we are imperfect, and he is willing to forgive us. (Psalm 103:13, 14) Jesus told us that we must ask God to forgive our sins. (Luke 11:2-4) When Jehovah forgives mistakes we made in the past, we do not have to keep thinking about them. Let us examine how Jehovah is able to forgive us.
HOW JEHOVAH CAN FORGIVE US
4, 5. (a) What helps us to understand Romans 5:12? (b) What does “undeserved kindness” mean?
4 The book of Romans, especially chapter 6, helps us to understand how Jehovah can forgive our sins. In chapter 3, we learn that “all have sinned.” Then Paul explains: “It is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23, 24) The Greek word here translated “undeserved kindness” gives the idea of doing something very kind without expecting anything in return, something unearned and unmerited.
5 One scholar explained that the Greek word often refers to what God and Christ have done to save mankind from sin and death. So the New World Translation in English translates this Greek word “undeserved kindness.” Let us see what God has done for us and how his undeserved kindness benefits us now and gives us a hope for the future.
Jehovah showed great undeserved kindness to all mankind by means of Jesus Christ
6. Who can benefit from God’s undeserved kindness, and how?
6 Because Adam sinned, sin and death have affected every imperfect human who has ever lived. That is why the Bible says that “by the trespass of the one man death ruled as king.” But Jehovah showed great undeserved kindness and provided a way to rescue all mankind by means of “the one person, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:12, 15, 17) “Through the obedience of the one person many will be made righteous.” And they can look forward to “everlasting life through Jesus Christ.”
7. Why was God’s gift of the ransom both kind and undeserved?
7 Think about this: Jehovah did not have to give his Son as a ransom. But he showed great kindness by providing a means to save us from sin and death. None of us deserve what God and Jesus did for us. How grateful we are that they have made it possible for us to be forgiven and to live forever! May we show God how thankful we are by the way we live our life.
THANKFUL FOR GOD’S UNDESERVED KINDNESS
8. What attitude must we reject?
8 We know that God is willing to forgive sins, even serious ones. But we should never use Jehovah’s undeserved kindness as an excuse to do something wrong and think, ‘Jehovah will forgive me.’ In the first century, even while some of the apostles were still alive, there were some Christians who had that attitude. (Read Jude 4.) Today, we need to be careful that we are not influenced by others and little by little begin to think that way.
9, 10. How were Paul and others set free from sin and death?
9 Paul told Christians that it would be wrong to think that if they continued sinning, God would still forgive them. Paul said that they should reject this thinking because they had “died with reference to sin.” (Read Romans 6:1, 2.) What did he mean?
Either we can give in to our sinful thoughts and desires or we can control them
10 By means of the ransom, God forgave the sins of Paul and other Christians in the first century. Jehovah anointed them with holy spirit to be his sons. If they remained faithful, they would live in heaven and rule with Christ. Since they were still alive on earth, though, how had they “died with reference to sin”? Paul used a comparison to show that their way of life had changed completely. He said that after Jesus died, he was resurrected as an immortal spirit. That is why death was “no longer master over him.” In a similar way, it was as if the Christians too had died. Their lives had changed completely because they no longer allowed their sinful desires to control them. From then on, they did their best to live in a way that pleased God. They were “dead with reference to sin but living with reference to God by Christ Jesus.”
11. How have Christians today “died with reference to sin”?
11 What about us? How have we “died with reference to sin”? In the past, we may have done many wrong things without realizing how Jehovah viewed our actions. We were like “slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness,” that is, “slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:19, 20) But when we learned from the Bible how God wants us to live, we made changes in our lives, dedicated ourselves to him, and got baptized. We had a strong desire to obey Jehovah and to live in a way that would please him. We “were set free from sin,” and we “became slaves to righteousness.”
12. What choice does each of us have to make?
12 Yet, we still have a choice. Paul said: “Do not let sin continue to rule as king in your mortal bodies so that you should obey their desires.” (Romans 6:12) Either we can give in to our sinful thoughts and desires or we can control them. Ask yourself: ‘Do I let my wrong desires grow so strong that I do what is bad? Or do I reject them immediately?’ If we are deeply grateful for God’s undeserved kindness, we will do our best to please him.
YOU CAN FIGHT SIN
13. Why can we be confident that we can do what is right?
13 In the first century, some people in Corinth who were thieves, homosexuals, adulterers, idolaters, and drunkards came to know and love Jehovah, and they changed. They felt ashamed of what they used to do. (Romans 6:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Christians in Rome also needed to make similar changes. Paul told them: “Neither go on presenting your bodies to sin as weapons of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, also your bodies to God as weapons of righteousness.” (Romans 6:13) Paul was sure that they could do what was right and continue to benefit from God’s undeserved kindness.
14, 15. What should we ask ourselves?
14 It is similar today. Some of our brothers and sisters may have lived like those in Corinth. But after coming to know Jehovah, they changed. It was as if they were washed clean. To please Jehovah, all of us made changes in our lives. Even now we want to show that we are grateful for God’s undeserved kindness. So we are determined to fight our wrong desires and use our lives to serve Jehovah.
15 Of course, we must avoid committing the serious sins that some in Corinth had committed. We cannot keep doing such things and at the same time expect God to show us his undeserved kindness and forgive us. But what about sins that some may consider to be less serious? Are we determined to do our best to obey Jehovah in everything?
16. How do we know that we must avoid sins that are not mentioned at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11?
16 Think of the apostle Paul. He wrote: “I am fleshly, sold under sin. For I do not understand what I am doing. For I do not practice what I wish, but I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:14, 15) Although he was not doing the things mentioned at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul admitted that he still sinned. He wanted to please Jehovah, so he fought against doing wrong things. (Read Romans 7:21-23.) May we imitate his example and do all we can to be obedient to Jehovah.
17. Why do you want to be honest?
17 For example, we know that to serve Jehovah we must be honest. (Read Proverbs 14:5; Ephesians 4:25.) We do not want to be like Satan, who is “the father of the lie.” And we remember that Ananias and his wife died because they lied. So we do not lie. (John 8:44; Acts 5:1-11) But honesty means much more than not telling lies. If we are truly grateful for God’s undeserved kindness, we will also be honest in other ways.
18, 19. What does it mean to be honest?
18 A person could be dishonest without telling a lie. For example, Jehovah told the Israelites: “You must not steal, you must not deceive, and you must not deal falsely with one another.” Why did they need to do this? Jehovah said: “You should be holy, because I, Jehovah your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2, 11) Although we may not tell a lie, if we make others believe something that is not true, we are being dishonest.
19 For example, a man tells his boss or those who work with him that he needs to leave work early because he has a medical appointment. But this is not the real reason. He wants to leave early on his vacation. His “medical appointment” is actually just a quick visit to the pharmacy or to the doctor’s office to pay a bill. Is he being honest, or is he deceiving others? The man led others to believe something that was not true. At times, people deceive others to get something they want or to avoid punishment. But we obey Jehovah, who said: “You must not deceive.” We want to do what he says is right and holy.
20, 21. If we are grateful for God’s undeserved kindness, what else must we avoid?
20 Of course, we avoid adultery, drunkenness, and other serious sins. Yet more than that, we want to avoid anything that would displease Jehovah. For example, we not only avoid sexual immorality, but we also avoid entertainment that is immoral. Not only do we not get drunk, but we also do not drink to the point where we are almost drunk. We may need to try very hard to resist temptations like these, but it is possible.
21 We make it our goal to do as Paul said: “Do not let sin continue to rule as king in your mortal bodies so that you should obey their desires.” (Romans 6:12; 7:18-20) It is true that we cannot avoid all sin. But when we fight against every kind of sin, we show that we are truly grateful for the undeserved kindness that God and Christ have shown us.
22. What reward can we look forward to if we are truly grateful for Jehovah’s undeserved kindness?
22 Jehovah has forgiven our sins and can continue to forgive them. How grateful we are for his undeserved kindness! So let us work hard to avoid doing things that he says are wrong, even if others do not consider them to be sins. What reward can we look forward to if we do so? Paul said: “Now that you were set free from sin and became slaves to God, you are producing your fruit in the way of holiness, and the end is everlasting life.”