God tells us in the Bible that we are sinners. While it’s true that some cultures don’t have a word for sin, everyone knows what it’s like to be offended. Everyone knows what it is to do wrong and to be wronged. The original word that we translate into English as “Sin” means, “To miss the mark.” The idea is like an archer who misses the target. Sin is wrong-doing. It is breaking God’s laws. It is missing the mark of His perfect standard. Sin is offensive to God and causes separation.
The reality is that sin has broken our relationship with our Creator. Though not always apparently serious or immediately obvious, it’s consequences are devastating. When you really think about it, this is not a difficult thing to understand. We know what it is to be personally offended and understand how offenses harm personal and family relationships. We cry out for justice over wrongs done to us. But have you ever wondered where our sense of justice comes from? Could it be that it comes from our Creator? Our Creator is just. In light of His high and holy standard, He tells us in the Bible that we are all offenders:
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
As we check ourselves against God’s law, the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17, it quickly becomes clear that we are all lawbreakers. Take the time to read them and reflect on what they say about God’s standard and how you measure up.
We don’t have to work too hard to figure this out. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word? Even if you’ve looked at someone wanting to have sex with them outside of marriage, you have broken God’s law. Whether someone has read the Bible or not, we all have a sense of right and wrong. God’s commands are written on our hearts – and they prove that we’re all guilty. God tells us that our guilt will be brought to light when He judges us.
We read in the Bible that it is appointed for each of us to die once, and then after this, we will face God in judgment (Hebrews 10:27). The penalty for sin is death – eternal, painful separation from God. Though it’s hard to comprehend this, we must not dismiss it. The consequences for our offenses help us understand how our Creator views our rebellion and sin. Here are just a few references to God’s judgment spoken by Jesus:
Matthew 13:49-50 “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 25:46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Here is a bit of what the last book of the Bible says regarding these things:
Revelation 20:11-14 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21: 8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
These are not pleasant things to think about, but understanding them can bring important perspective that leads to hope and new life.