Because of Adam’s disobedience, the penalty of death came and reigned like a king over all mankind. It, death, was passed to every man because all have sinned.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
But the sin spoken of here is not what you may think it is. “Sin is not sin.” And no, we have not lost our minds or gone over the edge. However, the explanation may interest you, especially, if you be one of those who has an ear to hear. One definition of “sin” says, “to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong.” Another one says, “to wander from the law of God or to violate God’s law.” Another definition says, “that which is done wrong as in an offence or a violation of the divine law in thought or in act.” Then there is “the complex or aggregate of sins committed either by a single person or by many” definition. Traditionally, “sin” has a very simple definition. “Sin” is basically defined as “a violation of divine law.” But could there be an alternative definition?
When we think of “sin,” we usually think of it as “personal sin.” Typically, personal sin is defined in one of two ways. There is “the sin of commission,” where an individual does something that is prohibited. And then there is “the sin of omission,” where an individual fails to do what is required of him or her. This sin may also express itself in either an act or an attitude. For example, when someone goes astray like a wandering sheep doing one’s own thing. Or when an individual transgresses or oversteps the law. Or this sin could express itself when an individual trespasses. But could there be an alternative definition?
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude (likeness) of Adam's transgression, who is the figure (a type) of him that was to come (Romans 5:14).”
In this passage, we see that there are “them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” And even though they had not sinned like Adam, they still died. Scripture tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It also tells us “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). With this being said, what sin did “them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression commit?” We know from scripture that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We also know that the wages of sin is death. But we have had the hardest time connecting “them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” to any sin.
“For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13).
We found that this passage sheds some light on our dilemma but offered little into bettering our understanding. We know that Adam’s disobedience allowed sin to enter into the world. So, there was no surprise seeing that sin was in the world prior to the law, which was the period between Adam and Moses. This passage also tells us that during this period, there was no one guilty of sin because there was no law. Apparently, unless there is some type of law, sin cannot be imputed or attributed to anyone.
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).
We see from this passage that everyone who commits sin is also guilty of violating the law, because sin is going against the law. In contrast, when there is no law, there can be no transgression and with no transgression, no sin. Therefore, those living before the law were not guilty of sin because there was no law to go against or violate. This brings us almost back to where we started. If all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, what sinned did those before the law commit?
We pray that our commentary has given you cause to rethink the meaning of the word “sin,” as it applies to the passage, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We pray that this message will bless you, inform you, and that you will be the better for having read it. If blessed by this message, please share so that others may be blessed as well. Amen.
Enjoy your blessings - KW