The Consequences of Sin

By Kersley Fitzgerald

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I'm auditing this free online class on Genesis from Dallas Seminary. Each of the ten sessions includes a video recording of a class from several years ago and some light reading; it's also a chance for them to spam my inbox for fund-raising, but that's cool. How else would I get a chance to take a free online seminary class?

This being Genesis, one of the main themes is sin. I mean, the ink wasn't even dry on Eve's birth certificate before she and Adam ate fruit from the one tree God had warned them against. If you know the story, you know there's this whole weird theological dynamic going on. The serpent and Satan, Eve and being deceived, Adam and the sin nature. Being kicked out of the garden and protected from the Tree of Life. Because, seriously, can you imagine if they'd eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and then from the Tree of Life? We would live forever in these damageable bodies with no hope for a physical resurrection. We would have an infinite number of years to become more and more sinful — and more and more victimized.

We are a long way from Eden. We sin every hour of every day (and I'm being conservative, here). We justify it, cover it, excuse it, and ignore it. But it's through Genesis that we remember just how bad sin is.

One sin resulted in a death sentence for all of humanity.

One sin broke the perfect fellowship between God and Adam, God and Eve, and Adam and Eve. It reduced a perfect marriage to the anger/resentment/hope/misunderstanding/divorce/abuse we see around us today.

One sin devastated nature. I don't know if the animals of Eden could talk, but they could surely communicate better than my dog, who whines and points her nose in the general vicinity of her leash. Sin led to pollution and holes in the ozone layer and allergies. Viruses and cancer.

And there is no single sin that is any less than this. Cain killed Abel, not only improving on Adam and Eve's disconnect but adding violence and personal animosity to the mix. Lamech excelled in greed and arrogance and self-importance.

But this is every sin. Not every sin has the same repercussions on earth, but every sin breaks God's heart. Every sin drives another wedge between us and Him. The spiritual consequence of every sin, from murder to speeding, is expulsion from Eden, being forced to wander the earth, the Flood, a crucifixion, and eternity in hell.

We get a lot of questions from people basically asking us to tell them their favorite sin is okay. Or at least justified. "But I couldn't possibly be expected to go without ___." "But it's better than when I used to do ___." "___ is legal, so it's okay." It's hard; you're human; we understand; you can be forgiven; you won't lose salvation. And every time you do "___," you condemn yourself. You prove you deserve to be forced out of God's presence, drowned in a flood, crucified, and sent to hell for eternity.

That's a far greater truth than "I deserve it" or "I can't help it," especially in light of Philippians 4:13 and 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Something interesting that the Genesis prof says is that it is possible to sin while attempting to serve God. It is possible to be a Christ-follower, have faith in God, and in the course of serving Him, sin in the doing. In Genesis, Abraham is a classic example. God told him he will be the father of many nations. He will have a son who will sire a people who will bless the world. His Progeny will save mankind. Even though his wife is infertile.

So, in faith that God will make good His promises, Abraham has sex with his barren wife's handmaid and has a son (Genesis 16).

In the New Testament, Peter is a sterling example. He loves Jesus. He follows Jesus — even when he doesn't know what that means. He believes Jesus is King and will rescue Israel. So when the guards come to take Jesus away, Peter draws his swords and cuts off a servant's ear (John 18:10).

Before Peter, there were whatever scholars came up with the idea of the Oral Law. God gave Moses specific instructions as to how He wanted the Israelites to live. Some of these laws were a little vague. How far, exactly, could one travel on the Sabbath? The Jewish leaders were so devoted to the Law that they feared even approaching an infraction. These are the "burdens" that Jesus accused the Pharisees of placing on the people — unnecessary extra responsibilities that God never intended. In fear that people would break the Law, the leaders sinfully made new laws (Matthew 23:1-15).

We do the same thing. No instruments in church. Forced tithing. Excessive dress codes. Never drinking alcohol. Only having wine for communion. Overlooking sins for fear of making others feel unloved. Pronouncing that sinners should be killed.

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Published 8-9-16