“Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17, CSB)
I’ve heard this phrase misused a lot. People are quick to claim these realities of our royalty like it’s here and now. I’ve heard comments such as: “You are a child of the king, pray like it” or “We are reigning even now in this life so nothing can stand in our way.”
“In life” is being used to qualify what type of reign it is. It is a reign that takes place in the space of true life. This life that we live in this body is just a shadow of the true life that we are promised with God forever. It’s easy to get caught in the message of eternal life when we should be rejoicing over the promise of authentic life. When we stress the acquisition of eternal life, we are coming dangerously close to the words of the serpent in the garden.
We are promised struggles in this life, but we are also promised that genuine faith ignites hope, endurance, and character within us. These things are used by the Spirit of God to navigate the pains of this life while we wait for true and everlasting life with God in the age to come.
As always, scripture gives a friendly perspective:
“if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us;” (2 Timothy 2:12, CSB)
“Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5, CSB)