There is this idea in the church that sin is what is keeping people away from God when the truth is sin was dealt with a couple thousand years ago. It’s no longer an issue.
And yet there is a huge idea within much of Christianity that God is still angry about our sin today. On the extreme end of this twisted thinking we get people waving protest signs at funerals claiming that is still mad at certain people because of what they do. (Something tells me those sign wavers are in for a surprise when they step into eternity. I’m just saying.)
Old Testament View
No doubt there are passages in the Old Testament that say God hates those who do evil. There are several in Psalms. Although to be fair most of the time, even in the Old Testament, the Bible says that God hates the sinful acts and not the person doing them.
There is a penalty attached with sin, no doubt. It’s pretty steep.
“The wages of sin is death.” When we do stuff that we know is wrong and it pulls at our conscious, that’s sin. And those wrong actions come with consequences.
Sometimes the consequences of sin might even be desirable. At first.
For example you can get a high from drugs or alcohol and that might feel pretty good. But several years as a chronic user or addict and you’ll end up with all sorts of bad things that weave into your whole life. It’ll affect your health, your relationships, your finances. That’s death moving in on you.
The same can be said for most any sin out there. The short term benefits tend to get far outweighed by the long term costs.
However, even though the costs are very real, those sins are not separating anyone from God today.
The Great Big ‘But’
Take a look at the second half of that verse up there. You see that big old ‘but’? It changes everything.
Sure the wages of sin is death. But.
But God offers everyone a free gift that deals with sin. It’s free for the taking and available to everyone who will accept the gift. Problem solved.
Thing is, it’s even bigger than that. The sin problem has been dealt with permanently. And for everyone, and not just those who accept the gift either.
John tells us this.
John’s talking about Jesus there and says that Jesus paid for everyone. Not just those who receive Him.
Sin no longer stands between humanity and God. It’s been dealt with. Done. Over. Problem solved. Absolutely and finally.
When Jesus said, “It is finished” moments before he died on the cross a couple thousand years ago He meant it is finished.
Sure sin still exists, and still has consequences. But it is not an issue between us and God anymore.
So What is the Issue?
Then does that mean everyone goes to heaven as some think? Nope. Here’s why.
A gift has to be given by someone and also it also has to be received by someone. God has already given the gift. That part’s a done deal.
However each of us has the option whether or not we choose to receive that gift. If we choose not to receive the gift then we don’t get to enjoy it’s benefits.
It’s that simple.
Refuse the gift and nothing changes. You stay separated from God. Your sin will eventually kill you and you’ll get to spend eternity the way you chose – separated from God in Hell.
Accept the gift and everything changes for you.
Let’s say I’m homeless living under a freeway bridge somewhere. And this insanely wealthy guy comes and finds me, says he wants to give me something.He’s bought a huge multi-million dollar mansion, put it in my name. He tells me he’s covered all the expenses for that mansion forever. I’ll never have to worry about taxes, insurance, maintenance, staffing, groceries, cars, drivers, anything. Forever.
Oh, and he says that I’ll get an unlimited credit card along with it. I just swipe whatever I want to buy and I’ll never see the bill.
If I decide I want my own space shuttle it’s paid for.
Everything is set up. All I have to do is accept the keys he’s holding out to me and move into my new life.
After he does all that for me, let’s say I tell him, “No thanks. I’d rather keep living under this bridge.”
Can the wealthy man force me to accept his gift? If he tries to then it really isn’t a gift, is it?
It makes no sense that I’d rather live under a bridge than in an all expense paid mansion. Maybe I like the bridge life. Maybe mansions seem evil to me. Maybe I knew someone who lived in a mansion once and he was a real jerk and I think if I move into a mansion I’ll end up being like him.
Regardless at the end of the day it’s still my choice.
And that is a small picture of what God did for use through Jesus and His sacrifice. Refusing that gift is what separates us from God. Our sin is no longer a factor.