Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Atonement & all it means (part three)

Why the need for punishment of sin?

Genesis 3:1-7 recounts the first sin of the human race, but that far from exhausts the biblical references to the fall... the fall is integral to the whole biblical message...
The most characteristic feature of sin is that it is directed against God (Psalm 51:4; Romans 8:7; James 4:4).  Any minimizing of this, such as the notion of sin as selfishness, seriously underestimates its gravity... In the fall, humanity snatched at equality with God, attempted to assert its independence of him and questioned the Creator's integrity and loving provision for it.
Bruce Milne, Know The Truth, p128-131
We see that no matter the kind of sin, all sin is aimed at God.  Romans 1:19-23 (ESV) says;

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 

God's invisible qualities, which have been made know are all those attributes of his nature mentioned in the last post. Every sin can be traced back to the fact that we take our eyes of the infinite, great and good God and instead turn to some man made idol (be it another religion, money, power or simply ourselves). All sin first begins with the created judging that the Creator is not who He says He is and replacing him with their own ideas for fulfillment. How absurd is it that created even attempts to judge the Creator!

Even more absurd is the idea that the created can do this and not be punished by the Creator.  The Creator has every right to do what he wants with his own creation.  If I were to sit down with paint, brushes and a blank canvas, as the creator I have every right to paint what I want. For the art itself to try and dictate the way it is painted is completely illogical because I can do what I want with my creation.

The quintessential thing to note though about punishment for sin is the impact it has on the purity of God.  This purity (as we have seen) is part of God's objective nature so exists infinitely and unchanged just as God has for all time. The holiness of his purity means that he cannot be in relationship with anything that is infected by sin.  Sin simply cannot be tolerated or connected to God in anyway, his character demands it.  Because of that he requires anyone who has a relationship with him to be completely righteous (not having any sin attached to them) because he cannot even relate to anything which is not wholly good.  God is also 100% just.  His creation was created in accordance to his nature - throughout Genesis 1 we see God saying "It is good" - so for his justice to live up to his integrity he must punish those who don't live up to his own nature.  For him to simply ignore it would be for God to waver on his integrity, to deny a part of his very nature - which would in turn cause him to cease being God.  So we see a punishment for going against God is necessary.

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