SIN AND THE LAW
CAN there be sin where there is no law?
"Where no law is, there is no transgression." "Sin is not imputed when there is no law." Romans 4:15; 5:13. Through what is the knowledge of sin obtained? "For by the law is the knowledge of sin." "I had not known sin, but by the law." Romans 3:20; 7:7.
Was sin in the world before the law was given on Mount Sinai?
"For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law." Romans 5:13.
NOTE.—The fact that sin was imputed before the law was given at Sinai is conclusive proof that the law existed before that event.
ADAM AND HIS SONS
When did sin and death enter the world?
"Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Verse 12.
What shows that God imputed sin to Cain?
"If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. . . . And He said, What hast thou done ? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth." Genesis 4:7, 10, 11.
What was the difference between Cain and Abel?
"Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." 1 John 3:12.
NOTE.—There must, therefore, have been a standard which defined right and wrong. But this is the province of the law of God. Hence the law of God must have existed at that time.
"I. God gave to Adam a law, as a- covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.
"II. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables; the first four commandments containing our duty towards God, and the other six our duty to man."—Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 19, in PHILIP SCHAFF, The Creeds of Christendom (Scribners), vol. 3, p. 640
THE DAYS OF NOAH
Why did God bring the Flood?
"And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, 1 will destroy them with the earth." Genesis 6:13.
What is Noah called?
"And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness." 2 Peter 2:5.
NOTE.—Noah must have preached repentance and that obedience of faith which brings the life into harmony with the law of God.
THE TIME OF LOT AND ABRAHAM
Why did God make His promise to the seed of Abraham?
"Because that Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." Genesis 26:5.
NOTE.—Then God's laws existed in Abraham's time. Why did the Lord destroy Sodom? "The men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the"Lord exceedingly." Genesis 13:13.
What was the character of their deeds?
"And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)." 2 Peter 2:7, 8.
NoTE.—Their deeds would not have been unlawful had there been no law then in existence. Unlawful means "contrary to law."
What did God say concerning the Amorites?
"The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." Genesis 15:16.
NOTE.—Ahab "did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel." 1 Kings 21:26. "The nation, which I cast out before you:. . . com- mitted all these things, and therefore I abhorred them." Leviticus 20:23. The statement that "they committed all these things" refers to what had been previously forbidden to the Israelites. Among these things was idolatrous worship (Leviticus 20:1-5),, showing that the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, were amenable to the law of God, and were abhorred of God for violating it.
JOSEPH AND MOSES
What did Joseph, in Egypt, say when tempted to sin?
"How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Genesis 39:9.
Before giving the law at Sinai, how did God rebilke the peo- ple for going out to gather manna on the seventh day?
"And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?" Exodus 16:28.
Had the Lord previously spoken of the Sabbath?
"This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath." Verse 23.
Before coming to Sinai, what had Moses taught Israel?
"When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God and His laws." Exodus 18:16.
NOTE.-All this shows that the law of God existed from the beginning, and was known and taught in the world before it was proclaimed at Sinai. "We should not suppose that the Ten Commandments were entirely new enactments when they were proclaimed from Sinai, for the Hebrew word torah is used in such previous passages of the Old Testament as Genesis 26:5; Exodus 12:49; Genesis 35:2 and 13:9; 16:4, 28; 18:16, 20. [Genesis 4:26; 14:22; 31:53 are cited for the principle of the third; Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 16:22-30 for the fourth; Genesis 9:6, for the sixth; and Genesis 2:24, for the seventh.] The decalogue may therefore be regarded as the full and solemn declaration of duties which had been more or less revealed previously, and this public enunciation took place under absolutely unique circumstances. We are told that 'the ten words' were spoken by God's own voice (Exod. 20:1; Deut. 5:4, 22-26); and twice afterwards 'written on tables of stone with the finger of God' (Exod. 24:12; 31:18; 32:16; 34:1, 28; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10; 10:1-4), thus appealing alike to the ear and eye, and emphasizing both their supreme importance and permanent obligation."—WILLIAM C. PROCTER, Moody Bible Institute Monthly (Copyrighted), October, 1933, p. 49. Used by permission.