Sin is universal to humankind. The Bible says, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin?’” (Proverbs 20:9). The answer to Solomon’s rhetorical question is a resounding, “No one!” If we are honest with ourselves, our own human experiences confirm the Bible’s assertions. It seems that propensities towards pride and struggles with selfishness are present from the cradle to the grave. As a father of young children, I am keenly aware that sinful tendencies seem to stain our lives from birth. Bickering and boasting seem to be hardwired into our hearts. Because of sin’s universal nature, all of us will strive against it from time to time. To stand strong, we need to stay mindful of its corrupting nature. When we are aware of how it hurts us, we will be more likely to avoid it. Consider three effects of sin in our lives.
Sin robs us of freedom and joy.
Speaking of sin, the Psalmist said, “If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). David’s words don’t mean that there is a hotline to heaven that gets turned off when we commit sin. God isn’t a cruel conductor who passively-aggressively shuts His ears when we don’t follow His cues. David intended to show that sin puts a strain on our fellowship with God. We can’t have close and clean fellowship with Him while we hold on to secret sin. Sin, as Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, grieves God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). And since the Holy Spirit of God brings freedom and joy into our lives (2 Corinthians 3:17 and Galatians 5:22), sin inevitably cuts us off from those things. When we hold on to sin, we relinquish our right to the overflowing, abundant life of Christ (John 10:10). I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid sin so that I can be a partaker of God’s good things!
Sin requires God’s wrath.
God hates all forms of evil because it hijacked His original intent for humankind. It robbed Him of the crown of His creation and brought death and depravity to all. Some scoff at the idea of eternal retribution. Concepts related to hell and justice seem worn-out and archaic. In light of the love of God, it is assumed that God would never subject anyone to everlasting wrath. Even a cursory reading of Scripture would teach us otherwise. The sinfulness of sin necessitates Divine justice. The book of Revelation describes a day in which Jesus will return with eyes of fire, donning a blood soaked garment, and ready to pour out wrath on all sin (Revelation 19:11-15).
Sin brings death.
The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). The square-one consequence for sin is mortality (Genesis 2:17). Such mortality occurs in two senses — physical and spiritual. When Adam and Eve committed the original sin, they gained the potential to undergo the former death (Genesis 3:8-9) and they immediately experienced the latter one (Genesis 5:5). The Bible teaches there is a coming day in which each one will be judged according to his or her works. At that time, death and Hades will be “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13-14). The Bible calls this event “the second death.” Though sin separates men, women, boys, and girls from God now, there is a soon-to-be hereafter in which all unredeemed humanity will be forever separated from God. Considering sin’s grave nature, we should work hard to avoid it!
Dr. Patrick Latham