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Sin Existed Before the Law of Moses
Thinking about Romans 5:13.
(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Romans 5:13)
Beginning in Romans 5:13, Paul will explain a little bit further about the role of sin. In the New Kings James Version, Romans 5:13-17 is all one parenthetical thought.
Sin existed in the world before the Law of Moses was given.
Between Adam and Moses, people were still committing sin.
This means there was law in the world between Adam and Moses. You only have to read the book of Genesis to know that there were laws in the world before Moses. Genesis 9 gives some. Sodom and Gomorrah were buried for breaking some. Noah’s flood was sent because people were breaking laws. Man has never been without law! - McGuiggan, Romans, 168
The truth had been suppressed by the Gentile world (Romans 1:18). They had known God, but they chose not to glorify Him as God (Romans 1:21).
Since death “passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (verse 12), there was some kind of law under which all men lived. It is not enough to note that men sinned by breaking the Law of Moses. The universal need of the gospel is seen in the undeniable fact that all men have sinned. - Wacaster, Studies in Romans, 204
Sin is not imputed when there is no law.
In the previous chapter of Romans, Paul discussed the one “to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” (Romans 4:5-8)
The non-imputing of sin occurs not in the realm of “law” but in the realm or system of “faith.”
Until the Law of Moses came along there was sin in the world because people always had law from God (See Genesis and Romans 2). But even back then there was the gracious provision of God of justification by faith. People like Abraham, Enoch, Noah and the rest didn’t have their sins imputed to them for they were “not under law but under grace” (see Romans 6:14). So that while sin existed even for men of faith there was no imputation of sin because God delivered the believer from the “law” (legal arrangement). - McGuiggan, Romans, 169
Those who do not have sin “charged” to their account are not the ones who choose to stand on their own record - for all have sinned (committed sin) and deserve the payment for their sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
In Romans 5:1-11, Paul discussed the blessings of being in Christ Jesus - including justification and reconciliation.
Now, he is reminding us about where we stand outside of Christ Jesus - outside of Christ; outside of “faith,” there is no forgiveness, justification, or reconciliation.
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