OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            In two previous bulletin articles, we have seen that man has a soul and that soul can be stained with sin.  It is man’s sin that also causes him to stand condemned before God.

            God is the Creator and Ruler of the Universe.  He rules the world by means of law.  These laws are given for man’s good.  They are given to provide order.  They are given to develop man into the image of his Creator.  Sin involves the transgression of God’s law.  “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:  for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).  Violations of God’s laws are serious crimes in divine court.  Thus, sin carries a heavy sentence.  The prophet Ezekiel reveals that sentence in Ezekiel 18:20.  He states:  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  The death called for in this sentence is a bloody, physical death.  Sin against God is worthy of capital punishment.

            There have been times, especially in the Mosaic dispensation, that sin was immediately punished with death.  One illustration is found in Numbers 15.  “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.  And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.  And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him” (Exo. 15:32-34).  This man had transgressed the law of God concerning the Sabbath day.  In Exodus 35:2-3, we read these words of the law:  “Six days shall work be done, but on the sabbath day there shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord:  whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.  Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.”  The unnamed Jew of this account was guilty of a crime before God.  Moses and Aaron brought the matter to God.  “And the Lord said unto Moses, the man shall surely be put to death:  all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp” (Exo. 15:35).  This man faced the sentence of death because of his sins.  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

            Many, however who have violated God’s law have not faced immediate death.  For the majority of humanity, their suffering for sin will take place in the hereafter.  They will suffer tribulation and anguish in hell.  Their condemnation will involve outer darkness (Matt. 8:12, 13; 25:30), fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8), and weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12, 13, 24:51 25:30).  This punishment will be experienced forever and ever.  “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment…” (Matt. 25:46).  This is referred to as “the second death” (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).

            As we read through our Bibles, we are reminded again and again that sin condemns.  Adam and Eve violated God’s law in the Garden of Eden.  Their punishment was swift and life-altering.  “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it:  cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life, thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field, in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken:  for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:16-19).

            In the book of Numbers, the children of Israel near the Promised Land.  Prior to entering into the land to conquer it, they send in a group of spies to view the land.  Ten of the twelve spies came back with an evil report.  Because of their message and because of the unbelief of the Israelites, they refused to take the land.  Their unbelief was sin.  God quickly spoke to Moses and Aaron about this rebellion.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me?  I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.  Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:  your carcasses shall fall in the wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me…But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness…I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me:  in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and they shall die” (Num. 14:26-35).

            In the New Testament, numerous lists of sins are set forth so man knows exactly what sin is.  Oftentimes the consequences of these transgressions are listed in the text.  In I Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul presents ten sins.  The outcome of these sins is stated twice.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived:  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetousness, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”  At the conclusion of Paul’s list of the works of the flesh, he writes:  “…of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21).  Revelation 21:8 is another verse that lists numerous transgressions and follows the list with the outcome of the sins.  “But the fearful, and unbelieveing, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:  which is the second death.”

            Sin is a criminal offense against the King of the Universe.  These offences go against the very nature of this holy God.  He, therefore, does not tolerate or excuse them.  His sentence is simple.  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  This death could come in the here and now.  It is certain to come in the last day when all sinners will hear these words:  “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).