“For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], 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” (Ro 5:17). Those of us who have received God’s abundant provision — grace and the gift of righteousness — are to reign in life.
The Greek word translated “reign” in this verse is a verb which means to be a king, reign as king or control something completely. That is, we Christians are to reign as kings in life as a result of Jesus’ death for our sin, burial and resurrection. There are several verses that state we will reign with Jesus on earth when he returns in the future to set up his kingdom (2 Ti 2:12; Rev 5:10; 20:4, 6; 22:5), but we’re to begin reigning now according to Romans 5:17.
Obviously, a king has dominion or sovereignty over a specific domain. I consider my domain to consist of myself, my family, work and property. I have greatest authority over and therefore responsibility for myself. In fact, I’m fully responsible for myself but have less authority over others in my domain due to their personal authority.
Because sin has perverted humanity and all of creation, the world’s idea of reigning is entirely different from God’s. Jesus described it this way: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Lk 22:25-26). Jesus used himself as an example by explaining, “I am among you as one who serves” (v 27).
So how must I reign in life, specifically by exercising authority over my domain? By serving those in my charge. By using my spiritual authority to protect, care for, provide for and influence them for their benefit. This includes, but is not limited to, using my authority to command spiritual beings trying to harm someone in my domain. I’m not to use my authority to oppress people or assert myself. Instead, I’m to emulate Jesus by serving them as he would.