THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
Why should we be punished for sin when sinning is our nature?
By Gary Meredith
The Bible says we are born with a sin nature. So why do we deserve Hell for living out of that nature? It's like a fish being condemned to Hell because it's in his nature to swim. It's not fair.
Or is it?
We have a sin nature, but it is not a part of our human nature to be indulged; it is a disease to be cured, a cancer to be cut out.
Before we go a little deeper into that answer, a caution: Be very suspicious of that word "fair." "Fairness" has recently been elevated to an almost sacred doctrine, often for the purpose of bashing other people — and God — over the head; to accuse them of not measuring up to some modern, temporary, popular standard of right and wrong. The problem is, what people judge to be fair or unfair differs among different people, places and times. In the United States, the divine right of kings to rule over us was "fair" until 1776; race-based slavery was "fair" until 1865; preventing women from voting was "fair" until 1920. You've probably heard the old saying, "All's fair in love and war." I'll bet the losers don't agree with that standard! One cable news network claims to be "fair and balanced," while others disagree. The point is, fairness is a shifting human guideline, not a permanent godly standard. Now, back to the answer.
Our sin nature is not "natural" to us; it is something we have, not something we are. A fish can only be a fish; that's all they were ever created to be. A human being can be reborn and regenerated, transformed into the image of Christ, glorious beyond imagination; that's what each of us was created to be (Daniel 12:3; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:11-12). Sin mars God's glorious plan and purpose for each of us, enslaves us (John 8:34), and kills our joy in this life (Romans 7:24).
God loves us too much to leave us enslaved and wasting away in sin, so He sent his Son to free us from it (John 3:16; 8:36; Romans 8:21). So hideous is this disease that the cure cost God the death of his Son on the cross (Mark 10:45; John 12:27; Philippians 2:8). Those who realize they are sick — that they and the whole world have this dreadful, fatal disease — may freely receive God's gift of this cure through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9), by believing that his blood paid in full for our rescue (1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 3:21-25). There is no other cure (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Yet even for Christians, the disease remains in the body until death. While faith instantly removes the penalty of sin, (damnation — John 20:31; 1 John 5:13), and reduces sin's power (our sinful actions which are the symptoms of the disease — Romans 8:5-8; 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18), sin's presence remains in us until we arrive in heaven (Romans 7:14-25; 2 Corinthians 5:1-4). Christians become a "new creation" as we pass from death to life (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:14); but the "old man" remains alive in us too, until our bodies die.
Sin is one of our three great enemies, along with Satan (Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 5:8) and the world (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). It is the worst of the three because it is the enemy within. God warned Cain that "sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it" (Genesis 4:7). James describes how "each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15). Paul describes sin almost as another person living in him, making him miserable and causing him to do what he himself hates and condemns. (Romans 7:14-25).
For these reasons sin is not to be accepted or excused, much less celebrated (as it is in much of our society today). Rather, we are to fight this enemy without mercy, so we do not remain sin's slave (John 8:34; Romans 6:6-22).
Sadly, many choose to reject the free gift of God's rescue from a useless life, and from hell, preferring to remain slaves to sin. Why? Not because it's their nature! Jesus explained the real reason: "Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed" (John 3:19-20).
Here's how the Bible describes the sad, sorry state of those who reject God's free rescue from sin:
The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves. Isaiah 3:9That is what sin is and does. This is what becomes of people who choose to cling to their sin nature, and reject God's cure. And God, Who does not violate our free will and force us to become obedient puppets, lets them freely choose damnation (Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; Romans 1:24-28).
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Philippians 3:19
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. Jeremiah 6:15
Animals (including fish) can do nothing but what their nature orders them to do. Of course, they are not condemned. Human beings alone know they need a Rescuer from their sad, hopeless condition. And that's exactly what our loving, merciful, gracious God has provided!
Image Credit: Hans; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Sin-Evil
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