When I was going through Navy basic training many years ago, there was one particular guy in our company of 70 + recruits who just never got it. Hammond (I can’t remember his first name) was the one who was always talking when we were supposed to be silent. He was always the one who was moving and jumping around in ranks when we were supposed to be standing at attention and completely still. He was the one whose bunk was never made right and whose locker always failed inspection. And because of him, the drill instructors ran the rest of us into the ground. We did extra PT drills until we dropped!
Basically, when Seaman Recruit Hammond messed up, we all got punished. It doesn’t seem fair but that’s the way it is in the military. That’s the way it is in much of life too. But does it seem fair for everyone to suffer because of one person? According to the Bible, that’s exactly what happened when we inherited the guilt of sin.
Romans 5 says:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
We are all guilty because of the sin of one man, Adam. We received the same condemnation. I’ve heard protests and objections raised over this principle, both from non believers and Christians alike. They ask how it is that a just God could declare all of us guilty because of the sin of one man who lived and committed that sin thousands of years ago. “How is that fair?” they ask. They compare this principle to being arrested, tried, and convicted for robbing a bank when it was actually someone else who committed the crime. The problem with such a comparison is that it does not address the overall corruption of creation itself. The crime of robbing the bank and the injustice of being falsely arrested for that crime are merely the continuing results of the corruption of creation that was brought on by the original sin. The truth is, we’re no different from Adam. We have an inclination to sin just as Adam did. We call it the sin nature. And because we inherited Adam’s inclination to sin, we inherited the same condemnation for sin.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin. No one likes being punished for someone else’s crime.That much is clear. But suppose one of us did commit a crime. Let’s say you or I went out and robbed a bank. And we were caught, convicted, and sentenced. But then someone offered to step in and take the punishment in our place and set us free in the process. We wouldn’t be protesting about the injustice of that, now would we? We wouldn’t be crying about how unfair that was would we? Of course not! But why not? Is it fair for one person to take someone else’s punishment? Is it fair that one person should take the punishment that we deserve? Now let’s look at that question from a Christian frame of reference. Is it fair for one man to sacrifice himself for people who want nothing to do with him? Jesus Christ did just that. He offered Himself as a substitute even though many have rejected Him and persecuted His followers, and many more will do likewise in the future. Jesus took the punishment we deserve and by doing so, He set us free.
Paul went on to write in Romans 5
The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 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!
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Jesus gave His life for all, and nowhere in the Bible does it say that He thought it was unfair to die for someone else’s crimes, or to die for those who would reject His offer of eternal life (Christ died for the ungodly….while we were still sinners…). I don’t think fairness even entered His mind as He died on the cross. In fact, I don’t think He ever once entertained the notion that He was being treated unfairly. His mind was set on doing the will of the Father, whose will it is that not one of His sheep would be lost.
A time is coming when justice and fairness will reign. Jesus is coming back and when He does, He will restore all things! Until then, we wait, we hope, and we trust!