The Evil of Sin
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10NKJV
Question 152 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?” It gives the answer, “Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserveth his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.” For the past few weeks we’ve been looking at the many circumstances that make some sins worse than others. While that is an important Biblical truth, it is also crucial for us to understand and affirm that every sin, no matter how “small,” still deserves the everlasting wrath and curse of God.
“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” Though there is some truth in this saying, there is a lot of error as well! Perhaps the most foundational inaccuracy is the first part of the statement, “To err is human.” If, by erring, we are talking about sinning and not just being wrong about something, then it is simply not true to describe humanness as “one who errs.” God made man upright, without any sin. Therefore, by sinning man did not become more human but actually less. We could say “To err is against what humans should be, what they were made to be. To err makes one less human.” Furthermore, Scripture tells us why God made man upright: in order to bear the image of God before all of creation: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,’” (Gen. 1:26). Man was made like God, in order to take care of God’s creation, for God.
God’s creation of man manifested His sovereignty, goodness, and holiness. Man was “fearfully and wonderfully” made (Ps. 139:14). All that he needed was amply supplied to him in the paradise which was the Garden of God. The creation was blessed. The animals responded to man’s every word. His perfect wife was by his side. Together they shared the highest place among God’s works, for they were given the inestimable privilege to rule over, care for, and protect all of it for God’s glory and their everlasting good. They alone were made like God: rational, moral, sinless. They would never grow old, get sick, or die… unless they did the unthinkable; unless they rebelled against the God who gave and continued to give them life, breath, health, goodness, honor, dignity, meaning, purpose, and all things.
Stated in this fashion we can better see how monstrously wicked sin is. Sin is rebellion against the known will of God. This is what the Catechism means when it says that sin is “against the sovereignty” of God, for it is talking about God’s preceptive will whereby He sovereignly commands man to obey Him. God is the ultimate sovereign and He has declared His will to man, His image- bearer, in the form of rationally expressed laws. Thus, every sin is against God’s sovereign right to rule as king over all. Every sin is then the greatest offense possible to God in that it robs Him of the honor of being who He is: king. Particularly, every sin is against God’s goodness. God’s law is good and perfectly good. It would only do good to man, for it is God’s expressed goodwill toward man. So that when we sin, we sin against God’s good intention for us. Likewise, seeing that God is holy and thus opposite and adverse to all evil, every sin by definition transgresses the holiness of God. Finally, because God is perfectly righteous and His laws only command what is righteous, to break them is to be unrighteous.
Seen in this light, sin really is a contradiction of all that God is and all that God delights in. So that if God were to let sin go unpunished, even partially, God would cease to be God, for sin would ultimately triumph over some aspect of God’s perfect will for Himself and for all things. Such cannot be! The judge of all the earth will do right. He will fully perform all of His perfect will and nothing will stop Him. But that means that all sin and every sinner must have perfect justice done upon him. We will consider what that means, Lord willing, next week!