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  • Adam Butler

What Is Sin?

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

- Romans 3:23

There is a problem with humanity that all people who have ever lived have in common. It is known as sin. Sin is a direct rebellion against God. R. C. Sproul described it this way, rightly so: “sin is cosmic treason.” But, how does one commit such an atrocity, and what are the consequences?

God formed the world to be perfect, and to obey His moral order. The morality of the world exists in accordance with God’s nature. That is, God is the moral standard by which actions are judged either good or bad. When people fall short of this standard, this is known as sin.

The Bible describes sin very pointedly, describing it as breaking the law of God (1 John 3:4) and, as mentioned earlier, rebelling against God (Deuteronomy 9:7, Joshua 1:18). Needless to say, sin is a serious offense against God. It is for this reason-sin being a direct rebellion against a perfect, just, holy, righteous God-that its consequences are grave. The wages of sin, according to Scripture, is death. Rebellion against God incurs His justified wrath. God is a good judge (Psalm 7:11-13), and will therefore do what good judges do: enact justice against ungodliness.

Those who refuse to turn from sin suffer the wrath of God-eternity in hell (Matthew 25:41-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Revelation 20:15). Is this punishment extreme? Far be it from me to claim such a thing. In fact, it is extreme for a perfect God not to punish wicked acts. It would be uncharacteristic for God to allow injustices to go unpunished. This is why part of the character of God is His wrath and hatred toward sin. Sinfulness cannot exist in the presence of God’s perfect holiness. This is why anything which goes against the perfect standard of God is considered sin, whether we consider it sin or not. We are not the moral arbiters of the universe, whereas God is.

This is why all sin is deserving of punishment. Human beings are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5). We have a nature that is to rebel against our maker. Thus, there is no one who is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). How is this so? It all dates back to the first man to ever have lived: Adam. Adam sinned, and as a result, human beings “inherited” his sin nature (Romans 5:12). From the seemingly smallest of sins, such as a lie, to the most vulgar sins we can imagine, all sins against God are counted against us.

However, the Gospel promises us that, upon acceptance of Christ’s atoning work on the cross, God will impute our sin to Himself, and cancel our debt we owe to God. Thus, our history of sin, no matter how long a list, is cleared and we are washed clean by the blood of Christ, who was the perfect sacrifice in our place, taking on the punishment we deserved. By resurrecting after three days, he offers us a gift: should we turn from our sinful ways and believe in Christ, we will be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 10:9, 13). There is therefore no condemnation for those who are saved by Christ (Romans 8:1).

The Gospel message truly is beautiful news: we have all gone astray and deserve God’s wrath. But God, being rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), and who wills that all people be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), made a way for all people to come to Him and find rest.

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