Friday, May 16, 2008

The Sinfulness of Sin

In Numbers, Chapter 25, one can read the account of the people of Israel already turning to the gods of their neighbors even before entering the land of promise - in this case the people of Moab and the god Baal of Peor. Also God gives His response to these actions of the people. It reads:

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor” Numbers 25:1-5.

God commanded Moses to execute those who had bowed the knee before Baal. The Lord had also sent a plague as well which only ceased when Phinehas executed a man of Israel and a Midianite woman in the act of adultery. Phinehas is praised and his act the reason that God turns back His anger against the people. What are we to think of this? Don Carson writes that the pluralistic culture that we live in would consider the act of God and Phinehas's execution of this man and woman to be "primitive barbarism." But he reminds us also that the agreed to covenant of Israel included capital punishment for adultery and idolatry.

I believe that this story shows the absolute sinfulness of sin. So horrid that it is hard to find words to describe it. God hates it and He must punish it to remain true to who He is. God told Adam and Eve at Creation that disobedience to the one command they were given would bring sure death. Because of their disobedience sin entered the world resulting in death. The New Testament gives us the same idea. Paul tells us in Romans that "the wages of sin is death," Rom 6:23, and James also tells us sin brings forth death, James 1:15. The Bible tells us that all people are all guilty sinners before God. They are already dead spiritually, they will die physically and will face the wrath of God forever. No sinner will escape the wrath of God on sin.

But, what about Christians who promote forgiveness and eternal life? God can't just forgive as some tell us. He is holy, righteous and just. He can't tolerate sin. It is totally opposed to His nature. Well, even for Christians, their sins must be judged and punished. The last part of Rom 6:23 as quoted above says, " but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." The wrath of God on believers has been poured out on Jesus Christ. That is what the glorious Gospel is all about. Those who repent and confess their sins and put their hope in the work of Jesus Christ as their subsitutionary sacrifice receive forgiveness and eternal life with God. God, in His love and mercy toward sinners, credits to Jesus the sins of those who believe and He credits to believers the perfect righteousness of Jesus. When God looks at the believer, He sees the righteousness of His Son. The believer can only stand before God in Christ.

Sin is serious. Those who died in this Biblical account deserved death, as do we all because we all sin. All who sin have earned death. While the church today does not carry out captial punishment for these same sins or any sin, those who practice them are still deserving of the wrath of God and will not enter the kingdom of God. But God gives grace to sinners in Christ. He gives to those who believe what they don't deserve because Jesus took what they did deserve. God will judge every single sin with wrath. The only question is whether the individual will bear it or will Jesus bear it . Who bears your sin?

Read more about this glorious Gospel.

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