When There Is No Law
Vol: 20 Issue: 30 Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Death was not part of God’s original creation. The introduction of death was made necessary by the fall of man; sin is the ultimate affront to God and death is therefore the ultimate penalty for sin.
Since it is a penalty, such portions of it will be removed and dismissed forever; the eternal part of death, however, is, well, eternal.
There are three aspects to death; the physical, the spiritual, and what the Bible calls “the second”. There is the death we know; the separation of soul and spirit from the flesh.
There is the spiritual death; the separation of the soul and spirit from God. That is the condition of each of us through Adam — the ‘original sin’ which results in spiritual still-birth. If one rejects fellowship with God in the physical life, one therefore remains separated from God in hell after physical death.
And finally, there is the ‘second death’ — the final and permanent form of spiritual death following sentencing at the Great White Throne.
The death we all know — physical death — is described in respect to its cause by the Apostle Paul:
“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: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” (Romans 5:12-14)
In this passage we learn several things concerning death. First, that death is the result of Adam’s sin. Sin, like death, is passed on to all men from Adam in that we all sin, and we all die.
Note also that “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” The point Paul is making relates to Adam’s sin being sufficient cause for invoking the death penalty on all men.
Genesis 2:17 reads:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
In the Hebrew, it says, “dying, thou shalt surely die.”
In the day Adam sinned, he began to die physically. This judgment includes all forms of death, including the second death, which Paul says “reigned from Adam to Moses.”
We also learn that “sin is not imputed when there is no law.” What does Paul mean here?
Suppose you owned a large piece of property on which there was a stretch of paved road. How fast can you drive on that road before you break the law? 70mph? 80? 120mph?
Since it is private property, there is no applicable law here. You can go as fast as you want without breaking any law or incurring any legal penalty.
Sin is not imputed when there is no law.
One of the biggest doctrinal controversies within the modern Church concerns the doctrine of eternal security, or, as its critics term it, “once saved, always saved.” (OSAS)
But the Apostle Paul writes;
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Roman 6:14)
If a saved Christian is not under the law, and sin is not imputed where there is no law, the search for a proof text to the contrary requires way more gymnastics than I am comfortable with.
If God’s intention in inspiring Scripture was to make plain to the simple the plan of salvation, well, it doesn’t get much simpler than this.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. . . . For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9,13)
I’m an heir to Adam’s sin and an heir to his sin nature. Sin, like death, was passed on to me and there is nothing I can do that will eliminate either. But as one washed in the Blood, I am saved by the grace of God from the eternal penalty of my own sin.
I am still under the curse of Adam. I will still sin. And will surely die physically. But the second death has no power over me. There is no law under which I can be convicted because there is no law to which I am made subject.
I am not under the law, but under grace. And where there is no law, no sin is imputed. I cannot sin my way out of Jesus’ Hand because there is no applicable law I can break.
At the Bema Seat where the saved are judged for their crowns, every detail of one’s life will be examined.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Corinthians 3:13)
It is at the Bema Seat that we Christians will give an account of every word spoken, every work committed or omitted, whether bad OR good:
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthian 3:15)
We will be judged according to our works, but we will be sentenced according to the finished Work at the Cross. At the Bema Seat, we will acknowledge our guilt, will suffer loss for our sins, but will still gain entrance into eternal life.
Revelation 17:8 says;
“The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”
Those whose names were “not written into the Book of Life from the foundation of the world”will stand before the Great White Throne. Those whose names were already there before the world began are those of whom Paul was speaking when he wrote:
“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
From what I can find in Scripture, there is but one charge for which those who stand before the Great White Throne will be sentenced. The Scriptures say that at the Great White Throne, the Lord will open the “books” and the Book of Life.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12)
The ‘books’ are the record of one’s life, just as at the Bema Seat. Just as at the Bema Seat, one will give an accounting of every thought, word and deed. At the Great White Throne, all those who rejected Christ will bow their knee and confess Jesus is Lord.
They will be judged, as were Christians at the Bema Seat, according to their works. But they will not be sentenced according to their works.
Christians are saved at the Bema Seat because of who they are in Christ, not according to what they did in the body.
At the Great White Throne, the lost will be sentenced, not according to their works, but according to who they are in Christ:
“And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
Featured Commentary: PERSEVERANCE ~Steve Schmutzer