Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tell me again - what is the consequence for sin?

I looked online and found these traditional responses and they are typical:

"…hell is the inevitable consequence of unforgiven sin" - John Piper 1

"The thing that's going to send you to hell is that you're a sinner and you don't want to admit it."  - J. Vernon McGee

"…when an unbeliever dies, he goes to be with Satan… As he passes from this earth, the devil whispers gloatingly, “Today you will be with me in hell.” No other possibilities exist. Our souls wilt be with Christ or with Satan."  - 'What is Hell?' by Edward Donnelly

"Hell is where God condemns sin and all those who reject Him. The Bible makes it clear that we have all sinned, so, as a result, we all deserve to go to hell." -

"Can a God of love send anyone to Hell?sin will damn you no matter how much you say about a loving God."  -

"…sin exists. You sin, we all sin. God hates sin. Sin cannot enter into heaven. So the only alternative is hell. Plain and simple."  - anonymous answering the question "why do people go to hell?"

Okay, yes, that sounds familiar. I have heard statements and teaching like that throughout my life, but especially since the age of 27, when I believed on Jesus and was baptized (it was then that I really started paying attention to spiritual things).

But what I actually mean is: what does the Bible say is the consequence of sin?

Scripture actually answers my question quite specifically, succinctly and plainly. We all know the verse:

"The wages of sin is death…" (Rom. 6.23)

That settles it for me right there. I am willing to believe God's word. That verse states the consequence I face without Jesus and it was the same consequence Adam and Eve faced for disobeying God: "…but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Gen. 2:17)

However, some believe there is a hidden meaning there. There are folks that have an imaginary asterisk on Romans 6:23 that connects to a footnote saying something like: "which means: be kept alive to suffer forever in hell". The belief is that 'death' illustrates the opposite of its plain meaning - to be kept alive in hell. Because of this confusion, let's continue to explore God's word concerning this grave topic.

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned."  (Rom. 5:12)

"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16)

"When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death."  (Rom. 6:19-20)

"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom. 8:6)

"…although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."  (Rom. 1:32)

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish…"  (John 3:16)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."  (John 5:25)

"...and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish."  (John 10:28)

"Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please God's Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Gal. 6.7-8)

"The soul that sins shall die" (Ez. 18.4) 

"Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."  (James 1:15)

"For You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling,So that I may walk before God in the light of the living." (Ps. 56:13)

"In the way of righteousness is life,And in its pathway there is no death." (Proverbs 12:28)

We all agree that the body dies. Maybe all these verses about death being the result of sin is about just the death of the body? If we continue to look, it is clear that there is a death occurring that is beyond just the physical body. Jesus made this clear when he said to Martha:

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  (John 11:26)

“This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…" (John 6:51)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." (John 8:51)

"I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me…Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 7:9-11, 24-25)

There are also all the verses about destruction* (see below). They are too numerous to list them all, but here are some:

"He has brought back their wickedness upon them And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our God will destroy them."  (Ps. 94:23)

"The LORD keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy."  (Ps. 145:20)

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it."  (Matt. 7:13)

"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ… in no way alarmed by your opponents - which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you…" (Phil. 1:27-28)

"These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power."  (2 Thess. 1:9)

"But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul."  (Heb. 10:39)

See also 2 Peter 2:1, 3, 6, 12, 16, Rev. 17:8, 11 among others. That's a lot of destruction there, including the consequence for distorting Scripture teachings. God help us that that is not us.

But what about the lake of fire? Although Revelation is symbolic in many aspects, we read that Satan, the beast, the false prophet, and all those not found in the book of life are thrown there. Most agree that the lake of fire corresponds to Gehenna, which Jesus mentions several times. Thankfully, John explains what it symbolizes:

"This is the second death, the lake of fire."  (Rev. 20:14)

"…their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."  (Rev. 21:8) The horror of the second death is that there is no return, no recovery - it is final death, a complete destruction. Eternal destruction.

So, we've come full circle from Genesis to Revelation and the outcome of sin is always death. And life is always in Christ Jesus our Lord. As in so much of God's truth, He uses earthly realities (life and death) to illustrate and teach us about eternal realities (eternal life, second death).

So, tell me again - what is the consequence for sin?



To translate black as white is nothing to this

* When traditionalists say that 'death', 'destruction' and 'perish' in the NT actually mean to suffer in hell for eternity...
"...the traditionalists claim that all these words have figurative meanings when used in the New Testament about the lost, moved Greek scholar and New Testament translator R.F. Weymouth to exclaim, "My mind fails to conceive a grosser misinterpretation of language than when the five or six strongest words which the Greek tongue possesses, signifying 'destroy' or 'destruction,' are explained to mean maintaining an everlasting but wretched existence. To translate black as white is nothing to this." 2

2 Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, page 214.

1 comment:

  1. “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death (thanatos).” John 8:51
    Dirk Waren comments, “This is obviously not referring to the first death here; after all, Christians who have faithfully “kept his word” have been physically dying for centuries. No, this is a reference to the second death. Jesus’ promise is that true believers will never experience the destruction of the second death in the lake of fire. This coincides perfectly with what Jesus said in John 3:16, that those who believe in him “shall not perish but have eternal life.”'



I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!