What is the Gospel? Part 3: Sin, Rebellion and Separation
I said I would produce these blogs over a few weeks. Then life happened and here we are almost 6 weeks later. We loved our time in the states so much that we tried to stay away as much as possible from computers and the sort so that we could maximize our enjoyment of seeing many beloved friends and family. Now that we are settled back in Nairobi, hopefully I can be a little bit more active here!
Is humanity inherently good or bad? One quote that stuck out to me in our 3 and a half weeks in the States is the number of times people say, “He/She is a good person,” or “He/She has a good heart.” For some reason, this type of statement is rarely made in Kenya.
This question of humanity’s goodness or badness is of the utmost importance because it affects how we view ourselves and those around us. Often, when we are determining if we as individuals are good people, our standard is either those around us or historical figures. We hope that our good deeds will outweigh our bad deeds. As long as we do enough “good” things, we will be okay. I discussed in my previous blog about this flawed thinking. Our standard is not other people, but the holy, righteous, and just God of the Bible.
We see from Romans 3:23 that every person that has ever lived has sinned and then Romans 6:23 says that the just punishment for that sin is death. We may sin a little less or a little more than those around us, but all of us at our core are sinners. Even from a philosophical standpoint, we do not have to teach a baby selfishness (you can just hear a toddler exclaiming, “Mine!”), but we do have to teach all of us unselfishness. All of this is because sin has entered the world.
Genesis 3:6 says,
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make on wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
The crafty serpent deceived Eve and questioned what God had actually said in Gen. 2:16-17. Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority over them and established their independence, autonomy, and separation from Him. I define “autonomy” here as choosing oneself as the source for determining what is right and wrong, rather than relying on God’s Word. Gen. 3:7 declares,
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Shame and brokenness has now entered the world.
At the end of Genesis 2, Adam and Eve are dismissed from the garden: “Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” Adam and Eve died spiritually, meaning they were cast away from God’s presence and became His enemies. They traded their favor with God for the pursuit of their own pleasures and glory. Isaiah 59:2 proclaims, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” Sin has broken the relationship between God and man.
What exactly do we mean by “sin?” Romans 1:21 says,
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Sin literally means “missing the mark” and when it enters the world, humans began to shoot in the opposite direction of God’s desires, ultimately not honoring Him. Rom. 3:10 makes it clear that all of us miss this mark: “None is righteous, no, not one.” We are tempted to make ourselves right by working hard or obeying the law, but a few verses later corrects this thinking: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The law shows us clearly that we cannot stand up to God’s standard.
We are fundamentally sinful and rebellious. We are not basically good as many would have us believe. Every part of us is enslaved to sin. We can see God’s glory, but we inevitably turn away. Romans 8:7-8 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In our sinfulness, we cannot have a proper relationship with God.
But what does that matter? Will there actually be any consequences, accountability, or judgment for our sin? My next blog will talk more about the personal moral dilemma we all face.