Friday, May 17, 2019

Three Dimensions of Sin

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

The Bible presents sin in three dimensions: as a debt we owe God, as our estrangement from or enmity against God, and as a crime against God.

To understand sin as a debt, we consider the objective fact that God is the creator and is sovereign over His universe. He has the right and authority to impose obligations on His creatures. If God imposes on us an obligation and we fail to perform it, we incur a debt. The fact is, we fail constantly to do what God has told us to do. In truth, we are monumental debtors. But what can we bring to pay our debts? What do we have, as mere creatures, that He will accept?

Second, to understand sin as enmity we consider the objective fact that our relationship with God is personal. God is a Person and the only way we can relate to Him is as a person: face to face, mouth to ear. The fact is that we have an inborn hostility to God. We are estranged from Him and angry at Him. Yet, objectively speaking, it is God who is the injured party because we have violated Him.

The role Christ plays in our redemption is that of mediator, reconciling the broken relationship between God and man. Because God is the offended party, it is He who must be satisfied if the relationship between Him and us is to be restored. Motivated by His love for us, despite His legitimate anger, God sent His Son to mediate between Him and us. But how can Jesus Christ restore that relationship?

Finally, to understand the price that must be paid to cover our debts and to understand how Christ can be our Mediator, we must consider the objective fact that sin is a crime against God. Crime must be punished. In the atonement, God the Father takes the role of governor and judge, while Christ Jesus our Lord takes the role of priest and victim. God objectively puts on Jesus Christ the responsibility for our sins, then puts Him to death for those sins. On the legal basis that the sins have been paid for, God reckons our debts paid in full and accepts us as His children once again.

This is only possible as a result of the principle of substitution: Christ for us.

It is critical that we understand the objective facts presented in this post. In your own words, try to explain the three dimensions of sin and atonement to an invisible friend. Keep doing this until you have mastered the facts.