Guy asked regarding the last post of this series,
Does this [that we aren’t sinless unless we live as Jesus lived] mean that prior to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were living as well as Christ did?
That’s a really good question.They lived under the law of God as had been revealed to them — and there weren’t many commands: don’t eat from the Tree, be fruitful and multiply, care for the Garden, be united with your wife as to your own flesh. That’s about it.
Now, interestingly, when Paul demonstrates the necessity of salvation in Jesus in Rom 1-2, he doesn’t argue “ignorance of the law is no excuse” (a favorite argument in 20th Century Church of Christ polemics). That’s the English common law, not the Bible. Rather, he argues,
(Rom 1:19-20 ESV) 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
(Rom 2:1-3 ESV) Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God?
In other words, Paul finds the Gentiles condemned because they violate what some call natural law — what even the pagans know to be wrong — and because they violate their own consciences. They are damned because they violate the part of God’s law they know.
Hence, in Eden and in Rom 1 – 2, mankind is only held accountable for the laws that we know — but in both Eden and Romans, that’s enough to damn us.
Does that mean that the Gentile doesn’t sin when he commits a sin ignorance? If he lives in a culture where premarital sex carries no moral stigma at all, is premarital sex still a sin? Well, it’s a pointless question, because he can’t be more damned. He’s damned by the law he knows, and whether it’s a sin to violate unknown laws is simply a pointless question.
So far as we’re concerned, all that matters is that he’s lost and needs to know Jesus. How lost he is is strictly God’s business.
(1Co 5:12-1 ESV) 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
We have no business judging those outside the church. That doesn’t mean we consider them saved! Far from it! Rather, it means that’s not our role. Our role is to be Jesus to them so they can be saved.
(1Co 5:9-10 ESV) 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
Paul’s point isn’t that they’re innocent, but that God needs Christians to be among those of the world and yet unspotted by the world — for the sake of the world. Just like Jesus.