Q. Paul’s effort to communicate the coalition of the law and death becomes very difficult to a simple mind when he says : “for until the law sin was in the world , but sin is not imputed when there is no law. ” Roman 5:13 What does this mean and what is your take on this? Does it mean that those who lived sinful lives before the Law was given , lived guiltless in sin?
A. Paul’s train of thought on this subject began in chapter 3 when he said there are no righteous people (Romans 3:10) and the law was given to make mankind conscious of that reality (Romans 3:20). In Romans 5:12 he said sin entered the world through one man, Adam, who broke the only law God gave him. Therefore sin was in the world before the Mosaic law was given. However, without the Law we can’t tell when we’re sinning even though we’re suffering the consequences of sin. This was his point when he said death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who didn’t know they were sinning because there was no Law to tell them so (Romans 5:13-14). God gave Moses the Law so men could know when they were breaking it.
Compare it to driving on a highway where there is no posted speed limit. You may be driving dangerously fast and even lose control of your car and kill yourself. But because there is no speed limit, you are not guilty of speeding even though your death was the consequence of driving too fast. A speed limit sign lets us know when we’re going too fast, just like the Mosaic law lets us know when we’re sinning.