When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Rom 5:12-14
Adam sinned by disobeying the only commandment there was: “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden — except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Gen 2:16-17
Death continued to reign and people continued to sin even without the Law.
Take the case of Cain.
He offered sacrifice without the Law and then killed his brother.
Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.” Gen 4:9-12
It seems Cain could have legitimately said, “Is there a law against killing my brother?”
There wasn’t because “You must not murder” (Ex 20:13) had not been given.
Or had it?
Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. Gen 3:22
The Law may have not been delivered to the people through Moses, but the Law was written on our hearts to know the difference between good and evil.
It is here that the struggle begins – inside the heart of people fighting over good and evil.
God’s Law cannot be contained or enforced when written on stone or the books.
We cannot legislate ourselves into morality. It must be a change of heart.
For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.”
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: Rom 10:5-8
There was no Law that said sacrifice and yet Cain and Abel brought sacrifice. Though Cain’s was rejected, it was not because he offered a grain offering but he offered it at the wrong time and not by faith.
When sin is allowed to dwell long enough in the heart of someone then that person loses sight of what is right and wrong.
Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. Rom 7:13-20
The only way to defeat sin is through the sacrifice that Jesus made for you. Then to keep the old sinful nature dead is to get the word of God into your mind and heart.
Only when your heart changes will your body follow!