Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why is Death the Punishment for Sin?

“ For I am the LORD, I change not; …...” Malachi 3:6

God, as the Creator of all we know has the sovereign right to establish His own standard of right and wrong and system of justice.
It is interesting when we look at our world we see how inescapable is the standard God set forth from the time of creation. How closely a civilization builds its justice system on God’s justice system directly determines what kind of society it is.
His ten commandments are even today a bedrock of right and wrong in a courtroom or in everyday life.
God is a God who does not change - and neither does His standard of justice.

When God was giving the ‘law’ to Moses He established the justice system of retribution for wrongs. In whatever way a man was ‘harmed’ by another, there needed to be a restitution or price paid in ‘kind’ . In Lev. 24 we are told …. animal for animal , eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, etc.
Life for Life ... "And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot". Duet. 19:21
Like for Like was the only ‘restoration to wholeness’ that was lawfully right.

For example, if I give someone a valued piece of pottery and ask them to guard it well and they through carelessness chip it, there is only one way that they can make it right. For them to return to me the chipped pottery does not ‘restore’ or pay for the damage. The only thing that will make it right would be for them to find a ‘perfect same as’ piece of pottery and return the undamaged one to me. It must be the ‘perfect like’ in place of the broken/damaged one.

Before God created the earth and all that is in it, there was only the perfection of God’s heaven. Not only was God perfect, but all that was around him was also perfect. Nothing but indescribable beauty surrounded Him and filled His heaven, including the angels who served Him. Not least of which was the most beautiful of them all , Lucifer, the angel leading heavenly worship.
But then, Lucifer, became proud and in becoming proud, entertained arrogant thoughts of being like God in ruling by his own desires and over a domain of his own. He persuaded one third of God’s angels to follow him in his rebellion.
God, of course, could allow no such thing -- it was open rebellion in His face. Lucifer and his followers were banished from their estates and forever condemned in their sin.
We know God as a forgiving, merciful God .. Why did He not find a way to forgive Lucifer and the angels who followed him ?

Remember God’s ‘like for like’ law of justice ?
What had been ‘damaged’ / ‘misused’ by Lucifer ? Was it not the ‘life’ that God had given him ? God is the Source , the Being from which ALL life originates, flows and is given. All life belongs to Him. As it says in Job 33:4 "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. and all God has to do is ‘recall’ that Life and "man will return to dust". (Job. 34:14)

Life, because it belongs to God is ‘holy’ … all life is meant to glorify God, all creatures with Life meant to fulfill the purposes of God and His desires. Because God is also LOVE ,He is only satisfied with perfectly happy creatures of His creation and He has given man instructions/commandments on how to live in perfect happiness, contentment and fulfillment. Anything we do contrary to that is a violation of His Life in us and is called ‘sin’.
If a creature ‘misuses’ the life that has been given him to harm himself or others or uses it to rebell against the God of Love that gave it , that is sin and must be atoned for.
So using God’s law of justice … like for like … that means Life for Life when sin against it is committed.
In God’s perfect heaven, there was no ‘death’ …. so there was no retribution/forgiveness possible for Lucifer. Life could not be given for the life that he misused. His own life is now tarnished, broken in sin … it could not atone for itself .. no more than the chipped pottery could be returned for retribution.
So Lucifer and his angels face an eternal punishment.

When God created man, He desires creatures that would choose to love Him, choose to serve Him -- creatures that would be children - His family in every sense of the word. A Being of Love that delights in calling Himself ‘Father’ needs children to pour His love out on.
To give his ‘children’ the freedom to come to Him because they loved Him and desired Him , He had to give them free will.
Free will, however, has a default of self-rule. Does God have free will ? Yes, of course.. He is sovereign. Does His freedom of self-rule -- creating/governing according to His own desires make Him a selfish Being ? No, because He is also a perfect Being .. in truth, in justice and in love and mercy and lovingkindness. For a Perfect Being to rule according to His own will and desire results in a perfect world.
But give free will to an imperfect being, then the ‘default’ to self-rule becomes something easily misused in that decisions/choices will be made without consideration of others’ well-being and for selfish reasons/goals. God’s will will be overruled by self-will. Every parent knows the ‘self-bent’ of their child when they begin to recognize the power of free will.

And so God, knowing that in creating man with a free will, He was creating a man who would fail, who would make wrong choices/decisions -- in other words ‘sin’ against or with the LIFE that God had given him -- God formulated a plan so that He would not have to condemn man when he sinned as He had to do with Lucifer.

That is why God told Adam and Eve … the day you sin, you will die. Death was not ‘created’ by God in His original creation -- only ‘sin’ brought God’s pronouncement of death into our world.
Why was death the punishment God decreed upon Adam and Eve ? Because only if there was death .. could their ‘sin’ be paid for …. LIFE for LIFE … can only be given where there is death.

A ‘broken’ life cannot atone for itself .. or one broken life for another broken life.. Only a Perfect Life can atone for a broken one. Adam and Eve both sinned and every man after them, there was no Perfect Life to give for broken Life.

We read in Rev. 13:8 that “the Lamb (was) slain from the foundation of the world.” We know Jesus did not come until 4000 years after Adam and Eve … yet God says for all intents and purposes He was ‘crucified’ from the foundation of the world. Why ? How?

God, in human form, Jesus, was the only Perfect Life that could be given to redeem the broken Life of every human being.
So how to apply the Life for Life before Jesus was slain ?
God set up, as it were, a line of credit. From Adam and Eve on, to the day Jesus gave His Life, every man could ‘borrow’ against that ‘reserve’ .
Every man could come to God with his ‘sin’ and with a token ‘life for life’ perfect animal sacrifice allowed God to ‘cover’ his sin until everyone’s sin debt would be paid in full by the Perfect Life for Life sacrifice of Jesus.
Animals cannot take away the sin of the world, (Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.) it is not really like for like .
But in establishing the animal sacrifice God was able to use the life of a perfect animal to apply the ‘line of credit’ to everyone who came to Him. And the people in bringing a perfect animal sacrifice for their sin … Life for Life... they were continually reminded how serious ‘sin’ was before God and that without forgiveness there was no fellowship/communion with God and no eternal living with Him.

In the old covenant sin was only ‘covered’,(Psa 85:2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin) it was not taken away as it is with the new covenant. ( I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and JUST to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE us from all iniquity) Why is He just ?? because Perfect Life has been given for Life -- and therefore we can be cleansed from our sin as if it never were ! In the new covenant the ‘line of credit’ is no longer necessary - every believer in Jesus draws on His riches of forgiveness directly - simply for the asking.

My Life has been given to me for the glorifying of Jesus and for His good purposes for me. If I misuse that life to pursue my own interests , or to fulfill my own fleshly desires, then I am ‘sinning’ against that Life that belongs to God. How aware I need to be to ‘use’ my ‘life’ -- not just my given earthly life span -- but the moment to moment use of it , being careful that I am truly using it in a way that will glorify the God to whom it belongs.

Col 3:17 "And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

1 comment:

Anneliese said...

I read through this, Julie. You have put a lot of thought into the whole concept of payment for a debt or wrong done. I've often wondeered why Jesus really had to die. Could God not just forgive us without the death? It's a difficult theological aspect to comprehend. I stil do not fully understand but by faith accept how you explain that only a perfect life can atone for a broken one.