Law of Sin and Death

Rom. 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

In order for us to properly understand the following verses in Romans, and elsewhere, it critical for us to correctly understand what is “the law of sin and death”?  Some have incorrectly tried to state that this is the 10 commandments, or even the full Old Covenant law in general.  I too, at one time used to believe this.  However, I now believe the Bible teaches that is not true, and incorrectly believing this has led many people into various doctrinal errors, some of which have even resulted in the forming of separate denominations which conform to various degrees of legalism, or even as far as some who form sects which cross into heretical and mystical teachings.

So this is not a light matter, but in reality it is not a difficult one either.  What is the “law of sin and death”?  Exactly what was promised Adam and Eve in the Garden –> “in the day you eat [sin]…you shall surely die.”

Recall what should have happened when they sinned? à Comprehensive death.  If no intervention by God had been done then “the very day” Adam and Even ate from the tree they would have experienced a comprehensive death: sin-death, died physically, and their physical death would have been the portal into an eternal sin-death separation from God in the Lake of Fire.  The death threatened meant condemnation unto full eternal death. 

Refer to the extensive study under the topic heading Death (Biblical Definitions) into the penal substitutionary death, as well as the Federal Headship of Adam, to know the condition for all future fallen mankind from the time after Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden. 

This brings us to the effect/meaning of the “law of sin and death” imposed on all mankind: all sin à the “law of sin and death” is condemnation to eternal death in the Lake of Fire.  If you sin à the wages of sin is eternal death.

With this clearer understanding of the “law of sin and death” let’s look at these following passages and see if it does not help make them clearer:

  • Rom. 5:14-21, “vs. 14a: …condemnation to eternal death reigned from Adam to Moses…vs. 17: …by the one man’s offense condemnation to eternal death reigned…gift of righteousness will reign in both life and fellowship now, and the eternal afterlife to come (life)…vs. 20a: …the law entered that the condemnation to eternal death (offense) might be shown to us as if looking in a mirror to see how as our sin increases so does our condemnation to eternal death (abound)…vs. 21 so that as sin reigned in condemnation to eternal death (death)…grace reigned…to both life and fellowship with God now, and the eternal afterlife to come (eternal life).”
  • We have both righteousness now and eternal life to follow in the afterlife.
    • Sin and death reigned over man: Christ took away sin and death reigning over us (Took them out of power reigning over us.  He now sits on the throne reigning).  We are no longer condemned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. (Legal requirements fulfilled, spiritual fellowship restored and eternal afterlife secured).
  • Rom. 6:23, “For the wages of sin is condemnation to eternal death (death), but the gift of God is both life and fellowship with God now, and the eternal afterlife to come (eternal life) in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Rom. 7:9-11, “…sin became revealed and clear to me (revived) and I realized how condemned to eternal death I was (died)…the commandment…I found to bring more clarity to realize my condemnation (death)…sin…by the commandment…condemned me to eternal death (killed me).”
  • Rom 8:6, “…carnally minded, is death…spiritually minded is Life…”
    • To be carnally minded is to be living according to the lusts and desires of the flesh and therefore under the condemnation to eternal death (death).  To be spiritually minded is to be living according to the guidance of the Spirit which gives peace now and the guarantee of eternal afterlife in heaven to come (Life)…”
  • Rom. 7:4, “…my brethren, you also have become separated from, no longer under the condemnation to eternal death (dead) to the law of sin and death…”
  • 2 Cor. 3:6-7, “…the letter kills…the ministry of death…”
  • The “letter” (Ten Commandments) brought condemnation to eternal death.  It was the “ministry of condemnation” written and engraved on stones.
  • Rom. 3:20, “…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
    • The OC law was to Israel like a mirror to be a constant reminder to them of how far short they fell from the perfect standards of God’s Holiness.  Paul tells us in Gal. 3:24-25 that the law had a purpose, and then when that purpose would be filled, it would then have an end, “Therefore the law was their tutor (more accurate description = pedagogue) to bring them to Christ…but after faith had come, they were to no longer be under the tutor.”

Now, with a clearer understanding of the above verses, let’s look at the following verse and see if this verse does not come into clearer understanding as well:

  • Rom. 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned –” (NKJV)
  • So, let us insert the biblical comprehensive condemnation to eternal death definition and see if we can more clearly understand what this verse is trying to tell us: “Therefore, just as through one man the sinful nature in slavery to sin (sin) entered into the world, and condemnation to eternal death (death) through our sinning (sin), and thus condemnation to eternal death (death) would be upon every single person who would be born from Adam and Eve (spread to all men), because all are born with a sinful nature in slavery to sin and do their own sin (all sinned) –”


See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:

Death (Biblical Definitions)

Penal Death (Capital Punishment Death)

Federal Headship (Romans 12:5-19)


For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):

Study Series 3 What Happened in the Garden