Edward O’Hara Tue 12/31/2019 12:56 PM…
When you read those words what comes to mind? Do you think it means that only sometimes sin is not imputed to them? Or maybe your thinking Paul really didn’t mean what he wrote the way it sounds because of course their sin was imputed to them, because you’re sure that’s why they died? But, is that what the scripture says? And whose sin is Paul speaking about? The sins of only some of the people who lived before Moses? Or all of the people who lived before Moses?
The fact is that when Paul wrote these critically important words, he had just described the events concerning the sin of Adam and the effects it brought to all mankind and the sin of all men after him that lived before Moses. So he was most certainly referring to all sins committed by men before Moses.
And then after giving us all this information about how God does not impute sin before Moses, he then says in vs.14 something that is really confusing for those who have believed the false sin nature/original sin doctrine.
He said that even though their sins were not imputed to them, Nevertheless death reigned(Rom.5:14). “Huh?!” You might be saying. “How can death reign if their sin was not counted against them? Doesn’t the Bible say the wages of sin is death?” To answer this question we will first look at the questions Paul’s statement in vs.13 suggests. Which are; what then caused death to reign since Paul said it was not the result of their sins being imputed to them? And; why did Paul say there was no law until Moses? Wasn’t the command given to Adam about eating the fruit a law? But, to answer these let’s first define the meaning of the word imputed so that we can come at these questions from the same Biblical starting point. The word for imputed that Paul uses in Rom.5:13 is elogeho in Greek. It means to place to account or counted against or to be accountable. Interestingly it is used only this one time in all of Paul’s teaching.
In contrast, we see another word in Greek that is more commonly used by Paul which is also translated imputed or reckoned. But, it does not mean the same thing elogeho means. It is used by Paul when referring to the imputation of righteousness in Rom.4. This word is logizomai. It means considered or reckoned to be righteous. So this means that when we have believed in Jesus as Jesus trusted the Father while He lived as a man on earth(Gal.2:16), it is because of our belief in Jesus that God considers or reckons us to be righteous. So Paul’s use of the Greek word logizomai does not mean that we are righteous because Jesus places His righteousness to our account as some have falsely believed. For that to be true Paul would have had to use the word elogeho. But, because he used the word legizomai he means to say that God considers or reckons us to literally berighteous. Not because we have Jesus’ righteous acts imputed to our account. That would mean we are righteous by works. But, it is because our belief in Jesus is our righteousness just as Jesus’ belief in the Father while living as a man was His righteousness.
If it was because of His works that Jesus was righteous then Paul was wrong when he said no flesh shall be justified/righteous by the works of the law(Gal.2:16). And if Jesus was righteous simply because He is God then Jesus did not live as a fully human man as Heb.2:14 says He did. And could never have been tempted in all points like as we are as Heb.4:15 says He was. Because God can not be tempted(James1:13). Yet without sin, because He always trusted the Father. And not because He was God or because of His works.
So we can see from this that when Paul said their sin was not imputed in Rom.5:13 he meant that their sins were not counted against them by God. So that God would not punish them for those sins they committed. And we also see in vs.13 that the reason Paul gives for this is that at the time they committed these sins there was no law. The reason Paul says there was no law, even though many have wrongly believed that the command for them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a law, is that to him the command given to Adam and Eve about the fruit was not a law but was instead instructions.
Instructions about what would happen if they ate the fruit. Much like the instructions we see on the side of a bottle of medicine. Or the instructions a parent gives to a child about not touching a hot stove or going into the street without first looking both ways to make sure a car is not coming. What happens when the child fails to heed these kinds of warnings from his parents? Or when someone takes medicine against the instruction on the bottle of medicine? It is not a penalty being imputed for violating the law. It is simply a result that happens when one touches a hot stove or takes medicine not in accordance with the instructions. This is why God’s command to them in the garden was not a law but were instructions for how to avoid death so they could live in the garden.
So this answers the question I mused earlier, “Doesn’t the Bible say the wages of sin is death?” Yes, the Bible says that. And to answer this more fully we see in Rom.6:23-7:4 who it was that Paul was speaking to when he wrote this. And that he was speaking to those who were under the law(Rom.6:23-7:4). Israelites. Remember that the whole Bible is written for us. But, the whole Bible is not written to us.
And he was telling these Israelites who knew the law that if they trusted in the works of the law for righteousness all that would bring for them is death. Because Paul said the law given through Moses is the “ministration of death”(2Cor.3:7). And that “the law works wrath”(Rom.4:15). This is why they needed to be dead to the law by solely trusting in Jesus for righteousness so they would no longer be subject to the “ministration of condemnation”.2Cor.3:9 and Rom.8:1,2.
But, you might be asking, what about the people that God destroyed in the flood? Or at Sodom and Gemorah? Weren’t they punished for their sins? We will cover this and more in my next article.
If you are reading this God is calling you. He loves you and wants you to know Him. Because knowing Him is eternal life.John17:3. So if you do not know Him please take the time right now to pray and confess Jesus as Lord of your life. And believe that He has raised from the dead. In doing this and really meaning it you will be saved from death to life. From sin to righteousness. And from the wrath to peace with God. Because when you trust in Jesus you leave the old life behind where you trusted in idols, and now trust in Jesus who Himself is the only WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.
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