By Sterling Collier
Many of the ungodly practices committed in our society are committed in our society are being fueled by the redefinition of terms. A great number of people adhere to the belief that if one can change the meaning of the word or action and make it acceptable, then this can also bring a change in the consequences resulting from that action. Recent history has brought us the less offensive word “gay” for the sin of homosexuality. Abortion is called “pro-choice.” Other sins are being labeled as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency. ” Deception in many forms is being honored as “patriotism. ” An attractive mask is being put on the ugly face of sin. As Christians, we must be careful, because the distance we travel in these new directions is proportional to our willingness to be deceived by them. As parents, we cannot allow our children to be educated solely in these definitions used by society. However it is explained, sin is sin and we will not escape the consequences. Just because the name is changed does not make a person innocent.
“Whosoever cominitteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn. 3:4). As the Holy Spirit reveals to the inspired writer, sin is a transgression of the commandments of God. It is not a light matter in the eyes of God to commit acts of lawlessness. This is made evident by two facts. One, Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” And secondly, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Sin, which brings spiritual death, must be removed by the blood of God’s Son.
In spite of God’s revelation concerning sin, many people, including Christians, tend to make some transgression as insignificant. With some, there is the occasional “white lie,” or the unlawful act committed as a matter of convenience. There is the gossip that everyone passes on or the sin that is socially acceptable. People have arrived at a point of sophistication that sin is no longer sin or at least it is not as bad as it used to be. More people are beginning to judge that some acts will condemn you but other sins will not do spiritual damage.
Sin is still an act of lawlessness and one sin separates us from God. Whether it is the He or adultery, murder or whatever, that sin will cost a person his soul if not repented of. If you can name one sin that will not separate us from God, then others will find many more that will not. This is why sin exacts a heavy price.
Isaiah announced to the children of Israel the consequences of sin, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Sin brings upon a soul the greatest tragedy of life, no fellowship with God. All other trials that occur in one’s lifetime are truly small when compared to spiritual death. When we sin, we sever our communion with God. We are set adrift with nothing to anchor the soul or give lasting hope in this life.
Paul describes the spiritual state that sin brought to the Ephesians before their obedience to Christ. “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). There can be no worse spiritual condition than for one to be without God. A soul in this state is easy prey for Satan. By sin, man willingly puts himself at the disposal of Satan to be used by him for wickedness. Even though the sin may be attractive to the world, in the sight of God it is an abomination and brings spiritual death. One pays a heavy price for sin.
Sin not only carries with it a spiritual toll but also can cause physical damage as well. This is not true of all sins, but some. The sin that David committed with Bathsheba changed the rest of his life. Although his sin was forgiven, as we are told in 2 Samuel 12:13, he bore the consequences of that sin. The child died, the sword never departed from his house; Absalom, one from his own house, rose up against him. All this was a result of his transgression. As it happened to David, it can to us. Physical damage can be brought to the individual who uses alcohol, tobacco or drugs. It can bring a change for the worse and alter his direction in life. Many a young person has allowed pain and destruction to enter his life due to sexual immorality. Far too many promising young families have been broken apart because of sin. Adultery has altered the course of the lives of elders, deacons and preachers. It affects entire congregations. Sin is a very demanding taskmaster. When a person falls under its influence, he shackles himself to death. Freedom from those chains comes only by the power of God.
Mentally and Emotionally
There is still another part of life where the burden of sin is keenly felt by us all. This is in the mind and emotions. Through our repentance and the mercy of God, we can have forgiveness of our wrongs. God has promised to remember them against us no more. But as frail humans, often we cannot forget the iniquities we commit and they are constant reminders of our weaknesses. We tend to remember those transgressions done under the pressure of temptation or those sins of selfishness as we have given occasions of stumbling to others and shamed the name of our Lord.
In Mark 14:72, we are told that as Peter thought on what had happened, he wept. Matthew adds the word “bitterly.” What was Peter thinking about? His denial of Christ. Jesus warned him of what he would do and Peter affirmed that it would never happened. Sin not only brings death, to the heart it should also bring sorrow.
Often as our thoughts dwell on our sins and the anguish they have produced, we wish we could just totally forget them. But let us thank God that we can still be touched by wrongdoing. The alternative is spiritually devastating. Paul speaks of some who had “their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). In contrasting the new man which is created according to God in righteousness and true holiness, Paul describes the old man of sin as “being past feeling” (Eph. 4:17-24). There is extreme danger when the conscience cannot be touched by any transgression of the law of God.
The Price for Redemption
It took the death of Jesus Christ to free man from the slavery of sin and Satan. Therefore sin cannot be considered a trivial matter. In Romans 5:6-11, Paul speaks of the love of God and of Christ’s death for the ungodly and sinner. He tells us that man is justified by the blood of Christ and explains the reconciliation to God made possible through that death. To redeem man, God gave the very best heaven had to offer.
In man’s willingness to redefine sin, he exalts himself, cheapens the sacrifice offered for sin and questions the wisdom of God. Whatever we treat in a trivial manner, we fail to take seriously. When we do that with sin, we are being deceived by our adversary. We would think soberly before we purchased a product that had an expensive price tag. The price tag on sin is death. The redemptive price to remove sin is the blood of Christ. Sin separates us from God. Its side effects are often physical, mental and emotional. It exacts a heavy price.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 14, pp. 417, 439
July 20, 1989