Sin, A Just God and His Law

Sin, A Just God & His Law

We need to catch up from the last post What is the Gospel: a Look at God & Man before we can get into sin and judgement. So lets take a look back. We saw through scripture that God is a Holy God whose Holiness demands justice. His Holiness and justice go hand in hand.

We then saw that He made man in His image, but through disobedience man fell. This severed the relation between God and man.

We really don’t understand just how bad sin is, but due to this one sin man has now inherited an evil heart.

Scripture tells us that man loves darkness, does no good, does not seek God and is a child of wrath.

Now that we have reviewed the foundation we will build upon it. We are going to take a look at what scripture says about sin, a just God and the Law. These subjects we tend to not want to talk about but we must speak of them if we want to get to The Gospel!

What is Sin

The biblical concept of sin comes from a study of words used in both Testaments… There are at least eight basic words for sin in the Old Testament and a dozen in the New Testament. Together they furnish the basic concepts involved in the doctrine.  Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie .

You can define sin as missing the mark, badness, rebellion, iniquity, going astray, wickedness, wandering, ungodliness, crime, lawlessness, transgression, ignorance and a a falling away.

A.H Strong in Systematic Theology defines sin as “lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition or state.”

J. Oliver Buswell in A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion defines in this way: “Sin may be defined ultimately as anything in the creature which does not express, or which is contrary to, the holy character of the Creator.”

Romans 3:23 puts it best I believe:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, NASB

Simply put sin is falling short of God’s glory; missing the mark he has laid before us.

When you talk about sin you need to see it in three ways; inherited, imputed and personal. For the sake of time we will over go over inherited and imputed as you can reflect on your own past and understand personal sin.

Inherited Sin

Inherited sin is some times called either “sin nature” or “original sin”. It is the sinful state in which all of mankind is born.

Charles Hodge in Systematic Theology refers to it as ” the corruption of our whole nature.”

Ephesians 2:3

 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Notice the verse says by nature which refers to something innate.

Psalms 51:5

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

David tells us that we have sin from the moment of conception and it is not something we have acquired.

All of man is affected by original sin.

Blinded Intellect 

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB)

4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Morally Corrupt Mind

Romans 1:28(NASB)

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Defiled Emotions

Romans 1:21,24 & 26(NASB)

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another,

Hardened Heart

Ephesians 4:18(NASB)

18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;

Will is Enslaved to Sin & In Opposition to God

Romans 6:20(NASB)

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

Scripture Points to Total Depravity

Depravity means that man fails to please God. The failure is in all aspect of his being and affects all people. Corruption is in every aspect of mans nature. There is nothing man can do to make himself right with God.

In a Survey of Bible Doctrine by Charles Ryrie he explains ” Total depravity does not mean that everyone is as thoroughly depraved in his actions as he could possibly be, nor that everyone will indulge in every form of sin, nor that a person cannot appreciate and even do acts of goodness; but it does mean that there is nothing within the natural man that can give him merit in God’s sight.”

Depravity must be measured in God’s holiness. People are good and can do good things for others. But we must understand that there is nothing one can do to gain salvation in the sight of our Holy God.

Inherited Sin Equals Spiritual Death

Death indicates a separation of some kind. In our case this death is a separation from the life of God.

Ephesians 2 (NASB)

2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

How Inherited Sin is Transmitted

The name it self suggest that the sin is inherited from one generation to the next and the next to the next. You have inherited sin from your parents who inherited it from their parents all the way back to Adam and Eve. Everyone born into this world is a sinner. No one is good or partially good.

Genesis 4:1 (NASB)

4 Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.”

Psalm 51:5  (NASB)

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

Romans 5:12 (NASB)

12 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—

Imputed Sin

The word imputation comes from the Latin word imputare, meaning “to reckon to charge to one’s account” sates R.K.Johnson “Imputation” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology by Walter A. Elwell. Imputation relates to the problem of how sin is charged to every person.

Romans 5:12 is the basic verse that teaches that sin entered the world through Adam.

12 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—

“The tense of the verb indicates a distinct historic entrance…Physical death came to all men but not because they were all in the process of individually sinning. All men did sin (except for infants dying in infancy) experientially. But Paul is not talking about that here. The sin of all is centered in that of the one man Adam.” A. Berkley Mickelsen, “Romans” The Wycliffe Bible Commentary

Simply put all sinned when Adam sinned.

But how? How does Adam relate to all of man?

There are two views given. One is the representative view and the other is the seminal view.

Representative View of Imputation

“This views Adam as the representative of the whole human race so that when Adam sinned his sin became the ground of condemnation of his race.” Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie 

Seminal View

“The seminal, realistic or Augustinian view sees Adam as containing the seed of all his posterity so that when he sinned, all actually sinned. Man kind was not merely represented by Adam but was actually organically joined to Adam.” Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie 

In Hebrews 7:9-10 you can see an example of the seminal concept being played out.

And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Though Levi was not even born till almost 200 years later, he paid tithes to Melchizedek through his great-grand father Abraham.

Just like Abraham contained his ancestor Levi; so Adam contained all of man. So we sinned in Adams sin just as Levi paid the tithe when Abraham did.

Adam’s sin was imputed to all of man.

How Imputed Sin is Transmitted

Adam’s sin is imputed individually to every single person, and is not passed down form generation to generation. Each individual is connected directly to Adam in regard to sin.

Imputed Sin Equals Physical Death

Romans 5:13-14

13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

It is important to note that 5 times in Romans 5:15-19 Paul shows us that condemnation and death reign over all because of Adam’s one sin.

Can you see how one sin has affected us all? This is how God views sin and you will now see why!

A Just God

If you missed the first post, in this series, we talked about the holiness and justice of God and how they go hand in hand.

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary  showed us that “In theology, as in the Scriptures, the terms justice and righteousness are used synonymously. The justice of God is both an essential and a relative attribute of the divine existence. It is a necessary outflow from the holiness of God. It is that in positive form that is negatively described as holiness, or separateness from evil. And, further, it is the holiness of God as manifested and applied in moral government. ”

But what do we mean when we say God is Just?

“The justice of God means that God is entirely correct and just in all His dealings with humanity; moreover, this justice acts in accordance with His law. The justice of God, therefore,  is related to man’s sin. Since God’s law reflects God’s standard, then God is righteous and just when He judges man for His violation of God’s revealed law.” The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns  

The Justice of God is broken into two categories and they are as follows.

Rectoral Justice of God

The rectroal justice of God implies that He is a moral ruler that imposes His moral law in the world. He will reward the obedient and punish the disobedient.

Psalm 99:1-4(NASB)

99 The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble;
He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is exalted above all the peoples.
3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name;
Holy is He.
4 The strength of the King loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the Lord our God
And worship at His footstool;
Holy is He

Romans 1:32 (NASB)

32 and 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.

The Distributive Justice of God

The distrubitve justice of God relates to His execution of the law and His dealing with both reward and punishment.

Isaiah 3:10-11 (NASB)

10 Say to the righteous that it will go well with them,
For they will eat the fruit of their actions.
11 Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him,
For what he deserves will be done to him.

Romans 2:5-6 (NASB)

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds:

1 Peter 1:17 (NASB)

17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;

Distributive justice can be categorized as both positive and negative.

Remunerative Justice 

Remunerative justice is the positive aspect of His justice. This is when He rewards the obedient and is a reflection of His divine love.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (NASB)

9 Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God,the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His loving kindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Romans 2:5-7 (NASB)

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

Retributive Justice

Retributive justice is the negative aspect of God’s justice toward man. It is a manifestation of God’s divine wrath in which He punishes the wicked.

Genesis 2:17 (NASB)

17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Deuteronomy 27:26 (NASB)

26 ‘Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Galatians 3:10 (NASB)

10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”

Romans 6:23 (NASB)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Law 

” The law of Moses was a divinely instituted rule of life mediated through Moses to govern God’s covenant people, Israel, in Canaan. It regulated their common, everyday conduct and was a covenant of works …. It had the definite ministry of imparting to sin the character of transgression.” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary

Exodus 19:5-6 (NASB)

5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Galatians 3:19 (NASB)

19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions,

The law was a unit that can be divided into 3 parts; the moral, ceremonial and the judicial.

The Moral Law

The moral law can be found in the 10 commandments but is not limited to them. The moral law is broken into two sections: man’s relationship to God and man’s relationship to man. The first four are man to God and the last 6 are man to man.

The moral law begins with the statement, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt” (Exodus 20:2); hence, ” the standard of moral measurement in deciding what was right or wrong, good and evil, was fixed in the unwavering and impeccably holy character of Yahweh, Israel’s God. His nature, attributes, character, and qualities provided the measuring stick for all ethical decision.”  Walter C. Kaiser Jr ” Theology of the Mosaic Era” The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns  

Exodus 20:2-17 (NASB)

2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The Judicial Law

These  laws begin in Exodus 21:2 and list responsibility of the individual and consequences for offenders. They deal with slaves, injury to others, property rights, oppression of widows and orphans, money lending and many other concerns.

The Ceremonial Law

The ceremonial law starts in Exodus 25:1 and deals with worship life. These laws involve the tabernacle, the clothing and function of the priests, and the sacrifices and offerings.

The law was Israel’s constitution with the Lord.

Why The Law 

In Galatians 3:19-24 we see some insight in to why the law was revealed from God. The law as we have seen shows God’s moral standard on Man, but could not and can not save us from our sin.

Galatians 3:19-14

19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

The law was given to make sin known and to restrain the people.

The law was given through Moses and angels where as the covenant was given directly to Abraham from God.

Genesis 15:18 (NASB)

18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

The fact that there was a mediator implies that there were two parties. The mediator also shows the inferiority of the law verses the covenant.

In verse 22 you see that the law shows that the whole world is under sin and that works can not save you.

In verse 24 the Greek word for tutor here means not a “teacher” but ” custodian or guardian”. It was usually a slave who was to be with a child and train him and discipline him.

The law was given to show you your sins and discipline you.

Conclusion

Through scripture you have seen what sin is, a just God and His Law. I pray you now understand that all men possess and commit sin from Adam to everyone living today.

God is Holy and Just and His justice is in relation to your sin.

God’s law was created to reveal His standard and to show you your sin.

Romans 3:20 (NASB)

20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Sin has made you totally depraved and their is nothing you can do in your own flesh to right yourself with God.

“The justice of God means that God is entirely correct and just in all His dealings with humanity; moreover, this justice acts in accordance with His law. The justice of God, therefore,  is related to man’s sin. Since God’s law reflects God’s standard, then God is righteous and just when He judges man for His violation of God’s revealed law.” The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns  

This quote from Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie  is where you now find yourself.

“If God the Judge, is with injustice and completely righteous in all His decisions, then how can He announce a sinner righteous? And sinners we all are. There are only three options open to God as sinners stand in His courtroom. He must condemn them, compromise His own righteousness to receive them as they are, or change them into righteous people.

If He can exercise the third option, then He can announce them righteous, which is justification. But any righteousness the sinner has must be actual, not fictitious; real, not imagined; acceptable by God’s standards, and not a whit short. If this could be accomplished, then, and only then. can He justify.”

Let’s revisit:

Exodus 34:6-7

6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God,compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; 7 who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

This is the question I leave you with from Job.

Job 9: 1-2 (NASB)

9 Then Job answered,

2 “In truth I know that this is so;
But how can a man be in the right before God?

 

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