4) Paying the Sin Penalty (Part I)
So far we have learned that man is a sinner because he has a sin nature, which he inherited from Adam. In other words, it’s in man’s very nature to do those things that offend God.
Think back to when you were about five years of age. Your mother most likely told you that you couldn’t have a cookie before dinner. Nevertheless, you took a cookie anyway and then probably lied about it when your mother confronted you.
Did your mother or father teach you to disobey and to lie? On the contrary, they made great effort to teach you the opposite. The fact is nobody needed to teach you to disobey and lie – it was/is very natural to lie. Most likely a therapist or psychologist would have a completely different explanation for your behavior. However, I’m guessing that if you have read this far you have the intelligence to recognize truth when you see it.
You have heard, and it’s true, that God is perfectly loving and forgives sins. What you may not know is that God is also perfectly just and demands that the penalty for sins be paid. The Bible tells us the penalty for sin, “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) This means we have earned death as result of our sin.
We need to understand Biblical death before we go further. The world views death as the finality of existence. The truth is that man was created for unending existence. We learn in Genesis 2:7 that God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils when he was created. Only man was created in this manner. The body is of the earth, but man’s soul is derived from God and therefore, eternal.
Death is not final for man. Death actually means separation. Adam and Eve were separated from God when they sinned. We are separated from our body, this world and people when we die. However, the soul is very much alive.
All living people, whether or not they are saved, enjoy the goodness and blessings of God while on this earth (James 1:17). They can enjoy a good meal, a cool drink to quench thirst, the sun on their faces, the laughter of a child, the cuteness of a puppy, the beauty of nature, etc. When a person dies without salvation, the goodness of God ceases. This is the ultimate separation. Think about it, the craving for things still exists after death, but even the smallest satisfaction is denied. The Bible refers to this existence as Hell, an eternal state of misery (Luke 16:20-25). God’s perfect justice demands that these wages be paid by each of us.
Notwithstanding the above paragraph, there are also the loving and merciful aspects of God’s nature to be considered. This love and mercy is manifested in Jesus, the Lamb of God. Professing “Christians” believe that Jesus died for their sins. Some even admit that He is the Son of God. However, when asked what this all means, few can explain how His dying actually pays for their sins. There are many, who say they have been born again and still can’t explain the significance of the cross and Jesus’ death.
So, let’s examine the reason for Jesus’ death. We have already determined that God demands payment of the penalty for sin. This fact must be addressed. God’s love does NOT overrule or supersede God’s justice.
Let’s say someone murdered someone in cold blood. This person was arrested, tried and convicted of the crime. At sentencing, however, the judge announced that the guilty person could go free because the judge was in a loving and forgiving mood. We could all applaud the judge’s noble gesture of love and forgiveness, except the person who’s loved one was murdered. That person would experience a complete sense of injustice.
God’s justice is no different than that in the above scenario. However, we read in John 3:16, “God so loved the world [people] that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Belief in God’s Son (Jesus) removes the penalty for the wages of death.
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