By Gary Patton
God’s word is filled with statements of encouragement. Words that are meant to help us feel good about serving him and living as he would have us live. He promises to be with and help us. He also promises grand and marvelous rewards to those who are faithful to the end.
But just as he often encourages us, he also warns us. His warning is basically that “we sin not” (1 Jn. 2:1). For if we sin and do not seek forgiveness he will reject us in that final day. God paints a very terrible picture of those lost in sin, a picture showing both suffering and anguish here as well as throughout eternity. If the rewards and blessings are so great and the sufferings of the punishment so terrible, then the obvious question is “Why sin?” Why do we violate his law found in his word? God in his supreme wisdom has revealed to us in the Bible why we sin. It is important that we listen to him so that we will constantly try to avoid those things that would tempt us to sin.
The Holy Spirit moved the apostle Paul to write to Timothy that the love of material wealth will cause us to sin. He writes in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 of the dangers of riches and says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” We live in a world where one’s success is measured by his material possessions, and one’s greatness by how much effort and devotion he gives to its accumulation. This pressures others to do the same and they are lured into thinking that obtaining material possessions must come first in one’s life. This means putting God and his work behind the obtaining of material possessions. God tells us that if we have food and raiment we should be content (1 Tim. 6:8). How often has the love of obtaining more material possessions caused us to love God less and thus fail to put him first (Matt. 6:33), thus falling into sin.
We sin because of a lack of love for God. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He also said he came to do the will of his Father, so that whatever he commands or reveals to us we are to do. The revealed will of God becomes the law for us to follow and obey. If we truly love someone we will do all we possibly can to please that individual. If we love the Lord with all our soul, mind and strength we will obey whatever he says. If he tells us not to commit adultery, not to steal, or not to lie, etc., we will then strive with everything we have not to disobey God. We will try to keep ourselves out of situations that would tempt us to sin. A lack of supreme love for God in our lives can cause us to sin.
In Romans the third chapter, beginning with verse ten, several terrible things are quoted from Psalms as happening because, he says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (v. 18). The word “fear” as used in the Bible usually has one of two meanings. Sometimes it is used in the sense of reverence, other times it is used to mean the dread of an action one can possibly suffer. Both cases are true when it comes to why we sin. Many sin today because they have no respect for God and his word, the Bible. They lack respect in that they are not willing to let him guide their lives. The lack of respect for his word is seen in that they openly disobey what they know God commands. Others fail to fear because of the teaching of humanists, which produces atheists and their philosophy that there is no God. These have no fear of any “everlasting punishment” of God after death and a judgment day. With such fears removed the flood gate is open for people to live as they please, destroying any barriers that might prevent them from seeking to live according to the flesh and a life of sin.
A child learns early that if he is not immediately punished for an act, he can continue it or repeat it. It is not till later in life that he learns that not all punishment is immediate. When we get caught up in a life of sin, we often revert to this childish reasoning that, since God didn’t punish me immediately, there will be no punishment. In Ecclesiastes 8:11-13, we read the warning, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked.” In the New Testament the Lord tried to correct this type of reasoning through the pen of Peter in 1 Peter 3:3-18. He says that the longsuffering of God is salvation (v. 18), not slackness (v. 9). God will punish all with unforgiven sins in the day of judgment, and that punishment is eternal punishment in hell.
Since God told us why people sin, let us strive to avoid those things and attitudes that would lead us into a life of sin. Rather let us strive to obey his commands that lead to righteousness in this life and a reward of joy in heaven in the hereafter. “Fear God And keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13,14).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 23, p. 716
December 5, 1991