By Michael L. Dollose
When Adam and Eve transgressed God’s law, sin entered the world. That sin immediately separated them from God. They were spiritually dead. That was the first, and by far the greatest of the consequences of their sin. They were also driven from the garden of Eden and barred from re-entering so that access to the tree of life could be prevented. Physical death became a reality. Adam was told that feeding his family would require labor and toil, fighting thorns and thistles for every necessity. Eve was told that in pain she would bring her children into the world. Thus, death, pain, and suffering entered into the world as a result of their sins.
If Adam and Eve repented, they were forgiven of their sins. God, in His mercy, promised them and all mankind that He would provide a sacrifice to take away sins (Gen. 3:15). But, even though the sins they committed could be forgiven, the consequences remained. They still faced death, labor and toil were still required to provide food, and suffering still had to be endured. Sin’s consequences don’t pass away with time.
We still suffer the consequences of that first pair’s sins. (We do not inherit the guilt, however. See Ezek. 18:20-24.) Disease, pain, suffering and death all entered into the world because of sin and remain problems plaguing man because of sin. Paul told the Romans, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Because of Adam’s sin, death entered the world and now we will all die physically. Because each of us sins, just as Adam did, we each separate ourselves from God, just as Adam did. We die spiritually; we are lost. Such are the consequences of sin.
God sent His Son to atone for our sins (Rom. 5:11). Only through obeying Him can we enjoy the forgiveness of sins and have the hope of eternal life (Heb. 5:8,9). But even when we obey Christ and are forgiven of all our sins, sometimes there are consequences of our sins that we must still bear. Sometimes sin causes circumstances which cannot be avoided.
Consider the tragic example of a young Christian who allowed himself to be influenced by his peers to drink with them. He became intoxicated and on the way home hit another car head on, killing the other driver. The young Christian was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for life. He repented of his sin and if his repentance was with a godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7: 10), he was forgiven. The horror of that night will not be so soon forgotten, however. That young man must live with the knowledge that his sin killed another man. His wheelchair will be constant reminder of the consequences of sin. The young wife who lost her husband and the young child who will never know his father’s love will know the loneliness and pain caused by one young man’s sin. No matter how badly everyone involved in the tragedy might wish to change it, to undo what has been done, it cannot be undone. Sin cost dearly. Such are the consequences of sin.
Adultery is sin. Those who violate God’s marriage law will suffer the consequences. Jesus said that if one divorces his or her mate and marries another, except it be for fornication, that one commits adultery and that any one who marries the one who has been put away commits adultery (Matt. 19:4-9). Thus, according to the Savior, when two people divorce and both remarry and no fornication is involved, four people are living in adultery. Only by repenting of that sin and ceasing to practice that sin can those involved have any hope of heaven. There can be no forgiveness where there is no repentance (Lk. 13:3). But repentance involves a sorrow for sin which causes the guilty part (or parties) to turn from the error, no longer practicing that which is contrary to God’s law (2 Cor. 7:11).
When a man (or woman) divorces his first mate and there has been no unfaithfulness on the part of that mate, that man must either be reunited with his first wife or remain single. The mate must also be reunited with her first husband or remain single. There is no other choice, if one is to be pleasing to God. Appeals to the emotions don’t change that. The fact that many, because of sin, will be condemned to a life of loneliness does not alter that. Such are the consequences of sin. It matters not that the man who divorces his wife against her will (assuming that neither is guilty of fornication) condemns her to a single life which she did not choose. The widow of the man killed in the wreck did not choose to have it so. But sin brings tragic consequences.
Well does this writer remember the first real prospects that he had after becoming a “full time” gospel preacher. It was a study with a young couple about my own age at the time. He was twenty-one; she was twenty-four. After the third study session, they both expressed a desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. “But,” as he put it, “there is a problem.” They had both been divorced. This was his second marriage, her fourth. They had two children and one on the way and not one of those children had the same mother and father. We turned to Matthew and read what Jesus taught. The man informed me that they had read that passage since our last study, several times in fact. I remember his exact words. “If we understand that passage, Jesus is saying that we don’t have a right to be married to each other. What can we do?” They, sadly, were not willing to dissolve their marriage to serve God. Some would immediately appeal to the unfairness of breaking up a happy home where two young people desired to live together and serve God. It is tragic, but such is the consequence of sin. When man ignores God’s law, man will pay the price.
I have often wondered since that time what ever became of that young couple. I have had many similar experiences over the years. Sadly, in the vast majority of cases those involved were not willing to surrender themselves completely to God and cease their adulterous relationships. Each time, I am reminded of the tragedy of sin, of the price of sin. I often wish that I could say, “If you will just repent and be baptized, you can go on living together and everything will be alright.” But the facts remain the same. Sin produces consequences that must be borne. We cannot change God’s law because divorce has become so prevalent in our age. We cannot alter what Jesus taught because many who are Christians are involved. We can but teach the truth about sin, warn of its consequences, encourage all to flee from it, and discipline those Christians who sin and who refuse to repent.
We all suffer pain and sorrow, death and disease as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Each of us will bear the heartache and suffering of our own sins whether through ignorance or willfully we violate God’s laws. We can be forgiven of sins if we will repent and cease the practice of that which is sinful. Sometimes we can make amends for our wrong and undo at least some of what we have done. Sometimes the consequences of sin don’t fade away with time.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 11, pp. 339-340
June 7, 1984