In the Bible, we see frequently that God wants us to repent and to trust him. But why do we need to repent? One may also ask, ‘repent from what’?
The answer is our sin. Sin is our rejection of God and determining to decide right and wrong for ourselves. All humans have done this and when we look at the world around us we see the consequences of our rejection of God. We see war, crime, addictions, and loneliness, to name but a few of the problems.
The chaos in the world can feel insurmountable, especially if you watch the news! We were created to have a relationship with God, but we rejected him. This rejection of God and the building of our lives around anything else is sin. Some ways we show this is through our selfish actions and attitudes or by disobeying and ignoring God.
Sin isn’t merely actions like lying and stealing, it is our self-centered, God-defying attitudes. The Bible says, “It is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17). And Jesus explained that it wasn’t only actions that were sinful, but also thoughts and motives: “You have heard that our ancestors were told, you must not murder… But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).
After reading all this, would you say you are sinful according to God’s standards? People can be ‘good’ according to men’s standards by being nice and lawful, but it is God’s standard that matters. And by God’s standards, we’re all sinful, and have to pay the consequences.
This diagram illustrates the gap between God’s perfection and ourselves, because of our sin. We may try to bridge this gap by good deeds or following a religion. However all our efforts fail because they cannot solve the problem of sin that keeps us from God.
What are the Consequences for Sin?
You may have noticed consequences of sin in your life and the lives of others. For instance, gluttony -constantly indulging in food - is a sin that can greatly impact your health and the length of your life, and complaining, bragging, and gossiping can harm your friendships and relationships. Selfish attitudes such as laziness or over-working or greed and pride can hurt your mental health and life satisfaction.
Sin has consequences for all areas of our lives, the physical, social, and mental. The rules in the Bible are there to keep us from sinning, not because God wants to keep us from something fun, but to protect us from all the consequences!
There are also spiritual consequences for sin; the Bible says in Isaiah 59:1-2, “Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” And in Romans 6:23, it says “For the wages of sin is death”.
Death means separation. For instance, physical death is the point when our bodies and spirits are separated. When the Bible says the consequence of sin is death, it’s also referring to a spiritual death where we are separated from God. This means that we will miss out on the relationship with God that he wants to have with us now, as well as the eternal life with God in the future.
When these words fall on my ears, this consequence sounds brutal. But I haven't murdered anyone! Why should I be punished when I haven't done anything THAT bad? Absolutely, an act of murder cannot be compared to a lie in terms of its degree of seriousness. But let's venture into these considerations together.
God certainly is not saying that he sees all sin as equal, but they are all equal in that they have happened as a result of rejecting God and his original purpose for our lives. So it is not the size of the sin that is in focus, but who the sin is against.
If you lied to a friend, the consequence of that would be hurt and perhaps a loss of friendship. If you lied to a judge in a trial, the consequence would be being fined or even imprisonment. Having a conviction on your file could also affect your livelihood or employability. If you lied to God, the consequence would be death. You see, it is not just the size of the sin that's taken into account, but who the sin is against.
Do you think God should just ignore sin?
One way of looking at it is like water. Anyone would drink a glass of clean water, but once a tiny drop of poison is added, no one would volunteer. In the same way, our sin is repulsive to God, the amount of sin we have is less important than the fact that it is there.
If there is no solution for our sin then it all seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? We’re all incredibly sinful and it brings so many consequences, the biggest being our separation from God. We cannot fix it on our own, but God has provided the solution through Jesus and what he did. Keep exploring to find out more!
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