Sin, Forgiveness and Consequences
Terry F. Sanders
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Sin is clearly defined in the New Testament as transgression of the law (1 Jn. 3:4, KJV). Another version says sin is lawlessness (Jn. 3:4, ASV). These translations center around the Greek word anomia which is a compound word from a, negative, and nomos, law (Vine's). Sin is acting against or without law. This same compound word is also translated in the New Testament as "iniquity" (Matt. 7:23) and "unrighteousness" (2 Cor. 6:14).
The law that we refer to is God's law. In the Garden of Eden God gave a law (Gen. 2:15-17). Man transgressed it (Gen. 3:16). Man, in doing so, sinned (Rom. 5:12; 1 Tim. 2:14). God later gave a law through Moses (Jn. 1:17). Those who transgressed that law sinned (Num. 14:40-42). Today we have the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). To transgress that law is to sin (2 Jn. 9). From all of this, we ought to be able to understand the basic meaning of sin. It is acting against the law given by God! I say this so we understand that sin is not acting against our personal likes and dislikes. Let me give you an example of what this means. I don't like accordion music or yodeling personally but a brother or sister who engages in either one has not sinned. Do you get the idea? If so, can you make the same distinction consistently? Can you limit sin to transgression of God's law?
Sin has a price. That price is separation from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8). But man is not without the opportunity for forgiveness.
God was not without a plan for helping man overcome sin. He had a remedy. God decided that the shedding of blood would play an integral part in the remission of sins (Heb. 9:22). In old times the blood of bulls and goats was utilized (see, for instance, Lev. 1-5). Yet the blood of those animals only kept the sins committed in remembrance (Heb. 10:1-4) until the time came (consider Gal. 4:4) that true remission of sins became possible.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19: 10). He spoke of his blood being shed for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:28). This was accomplished on Calvary's cross (Jn. 19:34). This was shed for redemption and forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:;7; Col. 1:14). His blood also remitted the sins of those of old times (Heb. 9:14-15). It is his blood that can cleanse from all sin (1 Jn. 1:7).
The remission of sins by the shed blood of Christ is available to man through baptism (Acts 2:38). Can you see the connection? Both the blood of Christ and baptism are for (in order to) the same end - remission of sins (compare Matt. 26:28 with Acts 2:38). The former is what God has done through his Son in order to make the remission of sins a reality. The latter is what man must do in order to obtain the remission of sins.
The child of God who has received this remission of sins may fall into sin again (2 Pet. 2:21). We have an example of one person who actually did fall from grace. Simon the sorcerer believed and was baptized the same as everyone else (Acts 8:13). Dare we say his conversion was any different? If so, how so? No, it was not different at all. He was as much a Christian as anyone else who believed and was baptized. But Simon sinned after his conversion (Acts 8:18-23). Once again was Simon in iniquity (or sin). He was told to repent and pray that he might be forgiven (Acts 8:22). He also confessed his guilt (Acts 8:24) while exhibiting compliance with the instruction given. What was all this toward? It was toward once again obtaining the cleansing from the blood of Christ (1 Jn. 1:7,9).
No one, whether an alien sinner or a Christian, fallen in sin can obtain forgiveness of sins separate and apart from the blood of Christ.
With this forgiveness comes a change of relationship to God. God's face is no longer away from the sinner, but favorable toward him (1 Pet. 3:12). In a very colorful description forgiveness is pictured as God casting sins behind his back (Isa. 38:17). The guilt is gone. God now looks upon man with favor and that which separated man from him is cast aside. How encouraging is this thought! God will forgive man! Even when man won't forgive, God will! Remember that forgiveness means that guilt is over. However, while guilt may be removed, the consequencs of sin may still remain.
One has said that to every action there is a reaction. That is true. Let us consider this statement. "To every action there are consequences. " I believe this is equally true.
Probably the best example of consequences existing and continuing after sin was forgiven is found in David's life. David sinned in the matter of Bathsheba, Uriah the Hittite's wife (2 Sam. 11). David was guilty of adultery, theft, lying, murder, and covetousness.
Compounding the evil of the action was the fact that the enemies of the Lord were handed an occasion to blaspheme God (2 Sam. 12:14). A prophet of God by the name of Nathan was sent by God to confront David. This was done by way of a parable. David could clearly see the guilt in the parable (2 Sam. 12:1-6). Nathan then applied the parable to David (2 Sam. 12:7). Nathan pointed out the punishment that would come to David as a consequence of his sins. Violence and shame would be prevalent in his family (2 Sam. 12:9-12). The child born of the adultery with Bathsheba would die (2 Sam. 12:14b).
But, someone may say, David confessed his sins and was forgiven. That is true and is revealed in language as plain as ever was written (2 Sam. 12:13). The guilt was taken away, but the consequences remained. David's family became shambles. His son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar (2 Sam. 13:1-14). In revenge Tamar's brother Absalom had his half-brother Amnon killed (2 Sam. 13:22-29). This same Absalom rebelled against his father in an attempt to usurp the throne (2 Sam. 15-17). Absalom even lay with David's concubines in the sight of all Israel (2 Sam. 16:22). Another son, Adonijah, later rebelled and made his own attempt at the throne of David (1 Kgs. 1:5). Despite David's intercession for the unnamed child born to him and Bathsheba, it died (2 Sam. 12:16-23). Truly, the consequences of David's sins remained even after he was forgiven. The consequences of our sins remain after forgiveness in the same manner. A person may kill someone in an auto accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. The sin may later be forgiven, but the consequence of a life snuffed out remains. A husband and father may commit adultery and later be forgiven, but the consequence of hurt and misplaced trust on the part of the wife and the family will remain long afterward.
Can we not see the importance of this? Should we not pay closer attention to our actions because of what they might bring forth? I most definitely think so! "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9; 1 Cor. 5:6). Please, think about it. We cannot take this lightly. Our actions and the consequences of them will determine whether or not our light will be shining on a hill or a reproach in the eyes of others.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 5, pp. 141-142