Eternity at Stake
Andrew Bonar wrote, “It has been much impressed upon me, that if convinced of sin at all, I must be so by the view of it in Christ’s love.”
The biblical facts of human sin help us understand why the cross is necessary—and further, they help us understand why the cross is the greatest act of love mankind could ever know. And this love gives endless comfort in the darkest of days. This post is primarily focused on the biblical concept of human sin. The next post is primarily focused on the salvation of Christ.
God created us for Himself—for an overwhelmingly good relationship together. Yet, our sin separates us from God: “Sin is not only an act of wrongdoing but a state of alienation from God” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell).
“You were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:12). Sin is a state of separation from God.
Here are some more passages of Scripture about sin to help us understand the problem that we face:
“…throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception” (Ephesians 4:22). All people have a sinful nature.
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). This nature begins at conception.
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). All are born in sin without the ability to please God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). People exercise the sin nature when they choose to sin.
“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). No one is exempt from a nature of sin; no one chooses to not sin.
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5). Sin is persistence in being unrepentant.
“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Ephesians 4:18). Sin is hardness of heart.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Sin is unbelief.
“There is no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11). Sin is not something from which people can save themselves.
Sin came through the first representative of the human race, Adam, when he and Eve disbelieved God in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Through Adam, a sinful nature was passed to the entire human race.
Sin is what all people do and “sinner” is who all people are—yet, that is exactly the opposite of what mankind was originally created to do and be. Sin affects every part of a person, such that no person is partially sin-free and no one has made the decision of himself or herself to seek God. No one, that is, but Christ who is the second, perfect Adam. We will return to this truth.
This problem of sin supersedes everything else that is terrible in this world because, gone untreated, it has everlasting implications. Our eternity is at stake because of our sin, which is deserving of the holy wrath of God. J.I. Packer wrote:
God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil.
Were all mankind to receive what is deserved, all would be eternally damned. All would be forever removed from the good presence of God, and from every good thing that has ever been experienced on this earth (for all goodness flows only from Him). That anyone has any goodness in life and has any expectation of goodness for the future is pure, undeserved grace.
The first Adam was not enough for mankind. Yet, what no mere person could do in the garden, the second Adam—Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man—did do. His perfect faithfulness and sacrificial death means salvation is freely offered to the world such that for all who repent of sin and believe in Him, He is the faultless representative and Substitute for the punishment of sin. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The next post in this series is about Jesus and the mercy and grace of His salvation.
For the remainder of this post, I reflect on the implications of the doctrine of sin in my life. As a believer in Christ, God has dealt with me according to pure, undeserved mercy and grace when facing my eternal danger and everlasting sorrow. Early in my life, I was bound for hell because of the sinfulness of my own heart, mind, and will. But in Christ, I have been saved from sin and punishment; this is why, unequivocally and without question, I trust Him with every lesser danger and sorrow that may come in this life. The eternal danger and everlasting sorrow of sin and punishment outweighs even the sorrow of losing my dear first daughter in this life. For I have eternity to anticipate with her, which His salvation has made possible.
I am exceedingly thankful today that He has not treated me according to what my sin deserves and that He has given me the opportunity to make a decision to believe in Jesus Christ. This allows me to be restored to Him in all love forever. He has not abandoned me and I know this because of Christ’s loving sacrifice.
You have read above that a nature of sin starts in the womb. Further, you have read of the opportunity to believe in Christ to be saved and know Him for eternity. Yet what about our babies in the womb and infants who die? They have sin natures, but did not have the opportunity to believe. To consider this question further, read these blog posts (here and here).