The seriousness of sin

I visited a friend of mine in the hospital recently. He is suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and has lost the ability to do what he used to do. This is a man that I’ve always viewed as the strong, working type of man. He used to work his own farm and I’ve heard from others that he always seemed to be happiest when he was on his tractor.

Anyone who knew him before the disease struck and sees him now might be tempted to ask the question we all are tempted to ask every now and then…

How could God let this happen?

And, as always, the best thing for us to do is to seek the answers in the appropriate place — Scripture.

Seeing my friend in the hospital struggling with this horrible disease convicted me of something. God used this occasion to impress upon me this one thing…

Sin is serious.

I’m not implying that my friend engaged in some really egregious sin which, in turn, caused God to strike him with a disease. Quite the opposite. I’m saying that the things we call “little” sins are every bit as catastrophic as the ones we consider “big” and that we don’t understand the implications of that.

We don’t contemplate the seriousness of sin much. We don’t think it’s that big of a deal. We read over passages in the Bible like Romans 6:23, which says…

“For the wages of sin is death…”

… and we barely bat an eye.

Why?

Because we are all so engulfed in sin that our perspective is irrevocably skewed. We don’t recognize how devastating sin is because our nature is sinful. We have no idea the full extent of the consequences unleashed on this world as a result of Adam’s sin because sin is all we know. Everyone around us is sinful and we have a tendency to measure ourselves against ourselves. And when we measure our sin against the sin of another we get the false impression that we’re not so bad.

But we are not the standard. It is not against one another that we will be measured. We will be measured against God.

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” — Matthew 5:48

Just as fish don’t know they are wet because their entire environment is under water, we rarely see the depth of our own depravity because we are swimming in sin. But every now and then we come face to face with sin’s dreadful consequences.

I saw the reality of those consequences in the body of my friend as he lay in the hospital bed. I saw the pain in his wife’s eyes as I gave her a hug — something my friend can no longer do. But God is not to blame.

We are.

God is not being unjust when we suffer. Quite the contrary, we all deserve God’s wrath because we have all sinned. When we are forced to deal with the inevitability of death we are forced to face just how seriously God regards sin — and it is deadly serious.

Those of us who have been born again should know this. We should be all too aware of the price paid on our behalf. It is because of our sin that Christ had to die if we were to have any hope of heaven. We are saved by God’s incredible, unfathomable grace and yet we still want to turn His grace into a license to sin. We think we’ve punched our ticket to heaven and so we have the freedom to sin in any fashion we want because it’s paid for. But Paul addresses this ridiculous notion in Romans.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” — Romans 6:1-4

We are to repent of our sins. We are to run from them. But all too often we watch things we know God detests and do things we know we should not do because we still struggle with our understanding of the seriousness of sin. We have convinced ourselves it’s no big deal.

We can still go “party” and laugh it off because we regard the grace of God as fire insurance. “Ha ha,” we say to ourselves. “I know I shouldn’t act this way, but I’m covered.”

At this very moment there are people in hospital rooms all around the world facing the terrible consequences of sin — the same consequences that await all of us. I wonder if they consider it a laughing matter.

I know God does not.

At the top of God’s “don’t do” list

In the pluralistic culture of 21st century America, we are told to respect all religious beliefs. Having faith in something — anything — is the important thing. The object of that faith is really beside the point.

Point out that a Hindu is lost and needs to come to faith in Jesus Christ and you will likely hear something like this…

“Hey, he’s seeking God in his own way. At least he’s not out stealing and murdering.”

The implication is that stealing and murdering are much worse offenses than worshipping a false god. But, as Phil Johnson points out at the Pyromaniacs blog, that idea just ain’t biblical.

Once again a 21st century American worldview is at odds with a biblical worldview.

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