Where There Is No Law There Is No Sin

by Terry Wane Benton

Some brethren are misusing Romand 5:13 and Romans 4:15 to say there is no law, therefore we can do what we want. That is not the point of these two passages nor any other passage.

The point in Romans 5:13 is that there was sin even before the Sinai law was given else there would have been no sin. There was sin, therefore there was law in some other form for sin to exist. Sin existed from Adam to Sinai because there was some form of law of right and wrong to violate. Otherwise, there would have been no sin, and if there could have been a situation of no sin by merely doing away with all law, then that would be the way to go rather than having Jesus die to remedy something that could have been remedied by just having no law.

In Romans 4:15 the point is that the Law of Moses brings about wrath while faith in Jesus brings about the cure, the thing that no mere law could accomplish. We are under law to Christ (I Corinthians 9:21). This passage says that we are “not without law to God.” So, there is law, and therefore there is sin. That “law of the Lord” went forth from Jerusalem through the Spirit on Pentecost (Isaiah 2:1-4). The better covenant has a law that is written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:31). The Law-only systems before Jesus had no real remedy for sin by its own nature and power. The law of Christ is more than mere law. It is a liberating law (James 1:21) because it is intimately attached to faith in Jesus who provides real atonement for sin through His blood.

Jesus liberates us from mere law that condemns, and He teaches us righteousness and how to properly deal with sin when you miss the mark (I John 1:7–2:2). Jesus liberates us from sin and condemnation, but He does not liberate us from all law altogether. He does not liberate us to sin but from sin. Sin cannot exist without law. But sin exists; therefore, there is a law to which we are held accountable.

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