Jesus not only paid our penalty but also earned the reward for us. Because of this, we are not simply sinners who can no longer be punished. Instead, we are counted as those who had fulfilled the law with perfect righteousness, and we become co-heirs with Christ. Even now, he is keeping an inheritance for us: one that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4).
Can there be any greater blessing than being forgiven of our sins? The answer is, “Yes!” The man or woman whom the Lord does not count their sin against them is blessed indeed. However, as wonderful as forgiveness is, and how necessary it is for our salvation, we must not stop there in our understanding of what Jesus has done for us. Specifically, in our understanding of justification. In Christ, we are more than forgiven.
We must recall that all men and women are born under a covenant of works. The same covenant under which Adam found himself. The covenant of works is conditional. If Adam fulfilled it by walking in perfect obedience to God, he would live. This potential for eternal life is why there was a tree of life in the garden. It was the reward for obeying the covenant. However, if he violated the covenant and sinned against God, he would die. Adam failed, and immediately he, along with Eve, experienced spiritual death. Their bodies also began to die.
Every one of us is born under a similar requirement. Either we obey God and live, or we disobey and die. Blessing and cursing are held out before us. However, if Adam did not fulfill the covenant in paradise without a sinful nature, neither will we in a fallen world with spiritually dead souls.
Therefore, Scripture is clear that all have fallen short of the glory of God, and the wage of sin is death, but there is still hope. One glimmer of hope appears at first to be a curse. We see in Romans 5 that we are all counted guilty because of Adam’s sin. Our guilt in Adam may not appear to be a good thing, but it tells us something important; it tells us another person can be our representative.
Not only have every one of us fallen in sin and deserve the penalty of death, but Adam is our representative head (Romans 5:18). We are guilty in ourselves, but we are also counted guilty in him. Here is where that turns into good news. If we can be declared guilty in Adam, perhaps we can be declared righteous under another representative head.
Immediately, at the fall, God had promised that a child would be born who would crush the head of the serpent and set his people free (Genesis 3:15).