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Adam to Moses

January 21, 2011

If you’re in the northwest Chicagoland area, and you’re available Wednesday nights, you should really come out to Church in the Word at 7 PM. We do a little bit of worship, and then Dennis picks apart the book of Romans. (There are other classes/groups starting in February, but if you like theology you want to stick with Dennis.)

I’m gonna start sharing my Wednesday evening notes, ’cause it’s good theology stuff. Probably not ALL of my notes, but my favorite parts.

Last Wednesday: Romans 5:12-21

Verses 13 through 17 are a huge parenthetical aside, but in it, Paul makes a really crazy statement.

Romans 5:13//For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

The word “imputed” is “ellogeo” in Greek, and it’s an accounting term. In effect, Paul said that until God gave the Law through Moses, He was not recording people’s sins to their accounts.

Is that crazy to anyone else?

But it’s true.

  1. In Genesis 4, we read about offerings and conversations between God and the first brothers. They were not allowed in the garden anymore – lest they eat from the Tree of Life, which was a measure taken for their own protection – but God had clearly not removed His presence from them. Even though they sinned.
  2. Another example is Abram and Sara. Genesis 20:12 tell us that Sara was Abram’s half-sister, but Leviticus 20:17 gives the penalty for such a sin. Because the law had not been given, God still blessed and prospered and made a chosen nation out of Abram.

By contrast, Numbers 15:32-36 tells us about the first guy who broke the Law after it was given. It was a man out in a field picking up sticks on the Sabbath. Penalty? Death. Sentence? Death.

Before the Law, God did not hold even obscene sin to people’s accounts. After the Law, well – there it was.

I think it’s amazing. And so contrary to the mean, angry, blood-thirsty god that the angry atheists would tell you the “God of the Old Testament” is. He is perfectly just, and He is perfectly loving.

Because sin was still sin before the Law was given. God was still holy, and anything contrary to His perfect holiness was sin. In Romans 2 Paul makes a pretty air-tight case that the Law is written on our hearts, even if we never read or hear it, and our conscious testifies for or against us. Marrying your sister, lying, murder, idolatry … were sin before Moses came down from the mountain.

A mean, angry, blood-thirsty god would have smote or tormented law-breakers for 2000 years between Adam and Moses. That god would not have shown mercy or compassion.

But that god is not our God.

The next bit of Romans 5 explains that just as a sinful nature was “imputed” to us through Adam – regardless of our own actions, the righteousness of God was “imputed” to us through Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:19//that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

And that, right there, is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacob permalink
    January 21, 2011 8:55 pm

    Great thoughts, two things. First, eI would like to bring up two verses to question this–not saying I disagree with Paul– Genesis 6:5,6, “The LORD saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” and Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world though one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all have sinned for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin was not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgressions of Adam, who was a type of the on who was to come.” It was common in second temple Judisem to think that there was no sin before the Law, for sin ment breaking the law, so Paul explains that though they were without the understanding of what actions were sin, that they were still being ruled by sin. This is important because it denies that the generations between adam and moses, being lawless, were also sinless. Sin still was there because death was still there, just not registered like it was after the law had come. Two, and more importantly…at least to me. Where did you get the ledger?

    • Lex permalink
      January 21, 2011 11:24 pm

      Dennis talked about the second part. About sin and death. Obviously, people were still dying during those 2000 years, and we know that “the wages of sin is death.” Scripture also tells us that those who sin are slaves of sin. The point was not that people were sinless, but just that God wasn’t “recording” it, in a way. The natural recourse of sin – death – was still in effect, and people were still subject to the natural consequences of their sin.

      Which kind of addresses the Genesis bit too. The teaching was not that there WAS no sin, just that God wasn’t keeping a record. (Which kind of negates the idea that there was no sin without the law too. Because if Paul wrote that it was not “counted,” there must have been something – being sin – that was being deliberately not counted.) He still saw it, and it still grieved Him, and He was “sorry.”

      HOWEVER the Genesis reference does raise an interesting question about the flood. If God wasn’t “counting” sin, why send the flood?

      Maybe it’s a fine line, but the idea – as I understood it Wednesday – was not that there WAS no sin, just that it wasn’t being recorded.

      (And the ledger? Um … random Google images search.)

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