Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas on March 20, 2015
Perhaps we would be well served by personalizing that question right out of the gate: will the sin of any man, woman, and child—including each person reading this—go unpunished?
The Bible teaches that God created us humans good and in his image, but after some time Adam and Eve rebelled against God. They committed high treason against the God of heaven and earth.
From that point on there was no turning back for them and their descendants. Indeed, we today share their guilt and rebellious nature. Our thoughts and actions show it.
Where do we stand with God now? Will God overlook our sins? Will he turn a blind eye toward our rebellious hearts?
Or in the words of one of the Protestant Reformers years ago, will God permit such disobedience and rebellion to go unpunished?
Some people would say yes. They might argue they really aren’t that bad. They wouldn’t say they’re perfect, but they would claim they’re doing their best to live a moral life, and that’s the important thing.
Author Greg Koukl tells the story of an attorney who came up to him once and made that claim. This attorney took issue with the idea that he deserved any sort of punishment.
Greg responded, “Let me ask you a question. Do you think people who commit moral crimes ought to be punished?”
The attorney chuckled. “Well, since I’m a prosecuting attorney, I guess I do.”
“Good.” Greg continued. “So do I. Now, a second question: Have you ever committed any moral crimes?”
As Greg explained, the attorney paused a moment. This was clearly getting personal. “Yes,” he nodded, “I guess I have.”
“So have I,” Greg admitted, honestly agreeing with him again. “But that puts us both in a tight spot, doesn’t it? We both believe people who do bad things should be punished, and we both believe we’re guilty on that score.”
Greg paused a moment, and then asked, “Do you know what I call that? I call that bad news.”
That’s the same bad news we hear in the Bible. As one of the Protestant Reformers summarized it, God “is terribly angry about the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge he punishes them now and in eternity.”
Indeed, Galatians 3:10 declares, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
“But wait!” Someone might retort. Isn’t God also merciful? Isn’t God love? The Bible also says that!
It certainly does. The same Protestant Reformer went on to acknowledge that very point: “God is certainly merciful, but he is also just. His justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty—eternal punishment of body and soul.”
Think about that.
For further study, read Psalm 5:4-6. For a beautiful word of hope, turn to Isaiah 53:4-5.
Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas on March 6, 2015
By nature, we cannot fulfill the demands of God’s law perfectly.
That’s probably not news to most of us. Everyday life has a way of reminding us that we by nature do not and cannot love God with all our heart, soul and mind, nor do we love our neighbors as ourselves.
Indeed, we have a natural tendency to hate God and our neighbor.
The big question now is how we got this way. It’s a foundational question, a critical part of every philosophy and religion.
What does God’s Word say? Did God create us this way?
No. Genesis 1 testifies that God created us good and in his image. We were created in true righteousness and holiness according to Ephesians 4:24.
As one of the Protestant Reformers explained, God did this, “so that we might know him, love him and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory.”
Then where did our corrupt nature come from? If God created us so good, what happened?
Genesis 3 tells us that our first parents rebelled against God. Satan tempted them to doubt God’s goodness and trustworthiness, and they willfully rejected God’s claim over them.
We might say Adam and Eve crossed the Rubicon, to use an illustration from Ancient Rome.
In the years leading up to 49 B.C., Julius Caesar was growing in influence and power. Eventually he decided to make himself head of the empire. He would advance on Rome and use the military forces under his command to seize control of the city.
The start of Caesar’s march toward Rome wasn’t especially alarming or threatening in itself. Roman armies went to and fro all the time.
The leaders of these armies were simply careful not to cross the border of the province of Italy. To do so would be high treason.
Certainly Julius Caesar would respect the border, right? Surely he and his soldiers would stay north of the Rubicon River, which marked the border.
Caesar, however, chose to cross the Rubicon. From that point on there could be no turning back for him.
The same thing happened the day Adam and Eve rebelled against God. From that point on there could be no turning back for them and their descendants.
Fast forward many years, and we today have been born into their family. We share their guilt and nature.
Each of us from birth is in rebellion against God. As Isaiah 53:6 states, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way.”
Our only hope now is to be born again and be brought into a different family.
Think about that. Ignoring it isn’t going to change anything.
For further study (and a word of hope), read John 3:3-21.