Sin In The Book Of Romans
The book of Romans tells us about sin. When one violates God's law, he is guilty of sin. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (Jn. 3:4). The word sin is found about thirty-five times in the book of Romans. Thus, Romans is a good book to study to learn what God has said about sin.
Conviction of Sin
When we talk about the conviction of sin we are referring to the fact that a person is aware of his guilt of sin, or offense. God's law is that which convicts men of sin. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). How does one know that he is a sinner? God said so! "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). It is as Paul said, ". . . I had not known sin, but by the law" (Rom. 7:7).
Some have concluded that man is not under law but under grace and, thus, has no sins. This is not so. Even though God's grace has been bestowed upon man God still has law. Paul told the Galatians, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). Timothy was told, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully" (2 Tim. 2:5). Men today are under the "law of faith" (Rom. 3:27), or the "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:2).
Men are convicted of sin today just as they were on the day of Pentecost. Just how were they convicted of sin on the day of Pentecost? The gospel of Christ was preached. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do" (Acts 2:37). We learn that such things as "unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity" and the like are things which separate us from God (Rom. 1:29-31). Being convicted that such things are sinful in the sight of God, we are led to turn from such and obey the Lord.
Effects of Sin
Sin has its effects in the lives of men. When we talk about effect we are discussing something that directly follows or occurs by reason of a cause. The book of Romans indicates that a number of things have come about due to sin.
(1) Sin makes one a sinner. A sinner is one who sins. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Paul said that men are sinners. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). Paul is contrasting the sin of Adam and the obedience of Christ in death. Sin entered the world when Adam sinned and man can be righteous because Jesus was obedient in death (Phil. 2:5-8). Every man is responsible for his own sins. Paul said, "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: for there is no respect of persons" (Col. 3:25). It is as Romans teaches, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world . . ." (Rom. 5:12).
(2) Sin Enslaves. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16). Regardless of what the sin might be (drinking, cursing, fornication, stealing, lying and the like), when one lets these things be in and control his life, he is the slave and the sin becomes the master. Paul said the Romans were "the servants of sin" before they obeyed the gospel (Rom. 6:17).
(3) Sin Makes One An Enemy of God. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:10). God hates sin and those who practice sin are enemies of God. It is like James said, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4). Jesus said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (Jn. 15:14).
(4) Sin condemns. "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Rom. 5:18). The effect of man's own sinning is condemnation. All men are condemned because they are sinners, even though Calvinism teaches that man inherits sin from Adam.
(5) Sin Keeps One Unrighteous. "For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness" (Rom. 6:20). When one serves sin, he cannot serve God at the same time. Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other, Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).
(6) Sin Separates Men From God. Sin has always separated man from God. Sin caused Adam to be driven from the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). Isaiah said, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isa. 59:1-2). Paul told the Ephesians, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). The word dead means to be separated from. Because sin separates men from God, Romans teaches the need for reconciliation. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:10).
Consequences Of Sin
Sin has its consequences. It is impossible for man to escape the consequences of sin. The Hebrew writer said,"every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward" (Heb. 2:2). Let us take a look at some consequences of sin.
(1) Jesus died for our sins. Jesus had no sins of His own but God sent His son to die for man. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Had man not become a sinner, there would have been no need for Jesus to die. Paul told the Romans, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Paul also told the Corinthians "how that Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). Jesus became our sin offering. These passages, or any others, do not teach that the perfect life of Christ can be transferred to man's account, to take away our sins. Our lives are made righteous by obeying the Lord, having our sins pardoned, and not by imputation. The only person God will not impute sin to, is the one who has been forgiven of his sins. Paul said, ". . . blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered" (Rom. 4:7). None of the righteousness of Christ is ever said to be credited to anyone. All are sinners and must obey God to have their sins forgiven (Heb. 5:8-9).
(2) Man Dies Physically. The consequences of sin has and always will be death. When man sinned in the garden of Eden, God said he would die, ". . . for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). He ate and he died! Paul said, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Thus, through the sin of Adam men have been sentenced to die physically.
(3) The Wages of Sin is Death. The penalty for sin is spiritual death. Paul told the Romans, "For the wages of sin is death . . ." (Rom. 6:23) It is as Ezekiel said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the Father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezek. 18:20). James said, ". . . and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (Jas. 1:15). John calls this the "second death" (Rev. 20:14).
The preaching of the gospel convicts men of sin (Acts 2:37). Realizing that we are sinners by transgressing God's law, we need to hear, believe and obey the gospel. Then we must strive to keep ourselves pure by repenting of and confessing every sin to God. (Acts 8:13-22; 1 Jn. 1:9). Then, when physical death comes, as it shall (Heb. 9:27), we can escape spiritual death and enjoy the bliss of heaven.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 2, pp. 39-40