How Much More

Call me crazy, but I get a little excited when my ten-year-old daughter approaches me with a necklace she has found hiding in her coat pocket for the past month. More than once this has happened over the years. She gives me a sheepish look and hands over the long, thin chain, which now looks more like a solid ball bearing. “Mom, can you fix it?” she asks. My excitement comes from the challenge: Can this intricate puzzle of knots be undone, or will I ultimately be the one who is undone?

When reading Romans 5, the image of my daughter holding her impossibly tangled necklace comes to mind. Paul writes here about Adam in such a way that I can almost imagine him, after the Fall, reluctantly approaching God with that same sheepish look. He reaches into his “fig leaf pocket” and pulls out a knotted-up chain. This chain, given to him by God at creation, is no longer the perfect piece that it once was.

Through Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden “sin entered the world… and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). This world, created in perfection and declared “good” by God, was changed in just a moment. The one man’s disobedience to God’s command brought about brokenness and death, which “came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). That sinful nature has been passed on from Adam, generation to generation, and it creates a divide between us and God. The knotted-up necklace has become our heirloom and the original knot has only become compounded by our own sin. I think of myself holding that same chain, passed down to me from Adam. I see those links hopelessly tangled by the sin of all mankind. With that familiar sheepish expression on my face, I ask, “God, can you fix it?”

Paul refers to Jesus as the second Adam—an Adam who restores what was lost through the first Adam. Jesus Christ, in perfect obedient righteousness, willingly takes our guilt, our sin, and death to the cross. Three days later, he rises again, with complete victory over all three, and he reconciles us to God. “Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification” (Romans 5:16). As sons and daughters of Adam, we inherit only death. As sons and daughters of Christ, we now inherit eternal life. He alone has the power to restore the chain that was first tangled in the Garden.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I have sympathetically fixed several of my daughter’s necklaces that have been tangled by accident or thoughtlessness. But what if I were to discover that she had been sulkily sitting in her room, willfully tying knot after knot in this perfect, beautiful necklace—out of defiance, spite, or disrespect? My reaction would be quite different! Paul tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This one verse holds significant meaning for us—after all, we are sinners who willfully disobey.

The Bible tells us, however, that in the midst of our defiance, spite, and disrespect, Christ gave up everything in order to make us right with God. He untangled our knots while we were still tying them! Who, but God alone, can love and forgive so perfectly?

“But the gift is not like the trespass” (Romans 5:15a).

To “untangle” can simply mean to “separate the various strands,” but it can also mean “to set free from entanglement or difficulty” (Webster). What Christ achieved for us on the cross is even more than an untying of knots. That gnarled chain of ours is not just hiding in our pocket, but it binds our hands and our feet, and it renders us powerless. The gift Jesus gives us is freedom—freedom from death and “the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). He not only unties the knots, but he throws off the chains as well to give us new life.

“The gift is not like the trespass.”

When my daughter comes to me asking for help, she comes with some uncertainty. I will admit, much to my frustration, that I have not always been able to fix her necklaces. Some of them have ended up in a drawer of “things to do,” while others ended up in the trash. If we try to fix our own problem of sin, we will fall short. We cannot untangle the knots and we cannot loosen our own bonds. Paul repeatedly uses the phrase “how much more” when referring to Christ and his finished work. He is Almighty God. He is so much more and is capable of so much more! There is nothing too big for him to handle—no sins too numerous, no sin too great.
We have turned a beautiful necklace into a ball bearing, but God does not see this as an impossible problem. We have taken a perfect chain and used it to imprison ourselves, but God does not see hopelessness. “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, ESV). There is only One who can restore what we lost in the Garden. It is Christ Jesus alone, the second Adam, who has defeated sin and death. Through this gift of grace we can now share in his victory! He gives generously the faith needed to trust him to bring forth beauty from ashes—a beautiful necklace from tangled knots. Praise be to God, “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!” (Ephesians 3:20).

“The gift is not like the trespass.” How much more!

Beth Langlois is a member of Praise Christian Fellowship in Barkhamsted, Connecticut.

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