Is it possible for a man, post-Adam, to live without sin?
Most of us would say, no. Once Adam sinned, he ruined it for the rest of us, and now, we are a bunch of hopeless sinners, except for Christ. We cannot help ourselves, we say; sin simply rules our beings in a way that it didn't before one little bite of fig in the Garden just after the very beginning of all things. (And yes, it must have been a fig, not an apple.)
Given the example of Christ - a sinless man post-Adam - we remain unconvinced. Essentially, our argument against the sinless life of Christ being possible for the average man is, well, He cheated. He had the full spirit of God in Him that kept Him from sinning, and we, who do not have the full spirit of God in us, cannot and should not be held to the same standard.
That is, after all, why He's Jesus and we're not.
But what if Adam's sin didn't impute sin to the rest of us? What if Adam's actions, for the rest of us who came after him, have nothing to do with our sin nature and everything to do with our death nature?
That seems to be what Paul is saying in Romans 5. Adam's sin did not make us all sinners; it made us all temporal beings. Temporary. Subject to death. It has nothing to do with whether or not we are sinners; it has everything to do with whether or not we'll die.
As it should. The real consequence of Adam's sin is that he was banished from the Garden. And we, by extension, have been banished, too. The Garden is where the Tree of Life dwells - eat from this fruit, and you will live forever. Unable to eat from the fruit, you will surely die. And so we, who have no access at all to the fruit of the Tree of Life by virtue (or vice) of Adam's banishing, will surely die.
Does that mean we have to die sinning?
This question drags us into the law, at least a little bit. Paul says that it is the law that imputes sin to us. "Imputes" is a fancy word that means, essentially, that it makes us responsible for it. Without the law, we didn't know what was right or wrong, God-pleasing or non-God-pleasing, and so if we had done anything without knowing that it was wrong, we could not be held accountable for it. Take a three-year-old who takes a candy bar from the store. He doesn't understand that it's wrong because he doesn't have a concept of legal or illegal; he just wanted the candy. We would not throw the three-year-old in juvenile detention for taking the candy bar, but if he were thirteen, we certainly would. The thirteen year old has the law in a way that he can understand it, so he is bound by it.
But the law didn't come about until Moses. Prior to that, then, men were not culpable for their sin because they did not know that it was sin. How could they? There was no law to tell them. Now, Paul tells us that it's not necessarily about sin, but death, for men who lived even without the law (sin) still died, from Adam to Moses.
Even, Paul says, those who were not sinners.
"Death reigned...even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression...." (Romans 5:14)
That means that there were men who were not sinners. At least, there were men who were not sinners prior to the law that could possibly tell them that they were. But it could also mean that there were men who were not sinners, even if they had had the law to tell them. We cannot know for sure. What we do know for sure is that, sinner or not, every man died (save Enoch, of course, who is a special case all his own).
Which brings us back to the question of the day: must we be sinners? Is it possible for a man, post-Adam, to live without sin?