You may wonder – why is sin such a big deal? Take a moment to imagine what heaven will be like – we all imagine heaven to be a place that is perfect in every way. By extension, this also means there cannot be the presence of anything that is imperfect in heaven otherwise it would no longer be perfect – it would be defiled. This, though, presents a BIG problem and that big problem is US! We are not presently compatible with God because we are not perfect – we could not exist in the presence of God in our current state. It is as though humanity is “unplugged” from the dimensions that God exists in. The holiness and purity of God is something we have no capacity to truly understand, but many places in Scripture show that God cannot reveal Himself to us physically at present or our human bodies would simply be consumed. Maybe we are limited to the three spatial dimensions we exist in to protect us from the supreme holiness, purity and justice of God!
When Adam was created, he did live in the presence of God and things were very different. However, when Adam exercised his free-will and choose to disobey God, his relationship and existence before God were fractured and death entered the created world for the first time. Since that moment, God has been forced to distance Himself from us for our own survival – this is actually an act of mercy from God! This incompatibility with God boils down to the issue of sin and this affects every person on two levels:
1. Genetic inheritance of sin
Scripture tells us we are all genetic descendants of Adam, that Adam sinned and as a result, creation no longer functions as it did originally before the fall.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned– (Romans 5:12 NIV)
So, whether we like it or not, we INHERIT sin! We cannot change this fact – it does not matter whether we think it is unfair or not, the mere presence of the genetic sin makes us incompatible with God in our present state. The presence of death (and everything that leads to death: illness, disease, etc.) further confirms there is a genetic problem we all have – the fact that we will all die at some point is the ultimate evidence of the inheritance in our bodies of sin.
There is a strong clue of the unapproachable holiness of God when Moses requested an appearance of the glory of God on Mount Sinai:
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:17-23 NIV)
Here, Moses had requested to see the form or likeness of God, but for his own protection God could not allow it – it would have destroyed Moses! In the same way, we would also be destroyed if we were to appear before God with this genetic flaw. However, there is more to this than just an inherited flaw…
2. Our own sin
If we are honest with ourselves, we must all admit that is own conduct is far from perfect and we are all guilty of wrongdoing. This is why “sin” or “imperfection” is such a big issue for God – there can be no presence of sin before God in heaven and if we are guilty of any sin, it follows there can be no place for us in heaven. Our own sinful behaviour further confirms our incompatibility with God. Even if we were allowed into heaven with our imperfections, heaven would no longer be perfect! There are many instances where characters who meet the Lord become acutely aware of their sinful condition and collapse as though dead at the mere presence of His appearance – take Isaiah and Daniel for example:
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:5-7 NIV)
So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. … Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.” (Daniel 10:8-11, 16-19 NIV)
Both men, who were amazing men of God, display an intense awareness of their own corruption or uncleanness when confronted with an appearance from God. If Isaiah and Daniel were so unable to withstand the presence of God, our situation is surely much worse! Please see our page – What are Gods standards? – to measure yourself up against God’s law. When we all meet our Creator on the day of judgment, we will have a huge incompatibility problem!
What is the solution?
This is where our saviour Jesus Christ comes in – Jesus came to make it possible for us to be compatible with God. Firstly, Jesus did not inherit the genetic sin we all inherit. He had no earthly father (as He was born of a virgin) and therefore did not inherit the corrupted DNA pattern that passes this genetic sin through the generations (through our fathers). He was perfect, but despite this, He was able (because of His own perfection) and willing to pay the price for our own imperfections. He then imputes His perfection to us on the day of judgment – IF we accept this offer! It is only possible for us to gain entry to heaven because Jesus has paid our entry fee and has the “voucher” or “passport” for our entry. The compatibility issue is now resolved.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NIV, emphasis added)
When Jesus was on the cross, just before He died, he proclaimed the words, “it is finished”. This interesting phrase is translated from the original greek “tetelestai” which literally means “paid in full”! This declaration of Jesus guarantees that our sin is completely dealt with and is not reliant on any action of ours, except our acceptance of His offer. Furthermore, the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates that this payment was accepted by His Father – the payment has been made and the resurrection was the receipt of payment!
If you were to survey the religious spectrum (including Christian denominations where the true gospel is not understood or taught) you would see different attempts to gain entry to heaven through a series of works and rituals. These attempts to “appease” God can never provide a substitute for our sin because no amount of “work” we perform will take away our sin. At best, we then take “works” + “sin” with us to meet God, but the very presence of sin will render us unacceptable for heaven no matter how much in the way of works we offer. A complete lifetime of repetitive rituals would be carried out totally in vain as we would still take our sinful condition to judgment day with us and be refused entry as imperfection cannot be allowed into a perfect place. No work or ritual of man can earn this – it is futile and blasphemous to pretend otherwise and displays a complete lack of understanding of the holiness of God. Even mainstream Christianity is presently softening and diluting the gospel message and “blurring” the issue of our sinful condition. This appears to be in a futile and foolish attempt to make the gospel of Jesus Christ more palatable to a relativist society that does not understand the concept of sin and the accountability for its own actions. This is a very sad state of affairs as any “gospel” that does not recognise and deal with sin through repentance is NOT the gospel of Jesus and CANNOT save souls! Our compatibility with God can only be resolved through repentance and trust in Jesus Christ.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36 NIV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV)
Jesus could not have made it simpler for us to have access to heaven – we simply present the “passport” stamped with the words “paid in full” that we receive through Christ – it is available to absolutely anyone and its completely free of charge. We have to simply hold our hand out and accept the voucher. We are then in the position of having our sin “paid in full” and therefore take no sin with us before God on the day of judgment! A full relationship with God through Christ is then possible. Our guarantee or “down payment” for our “passport” is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that energises us to spread the gospel message to those that are unsaved and to live our lives with Christ as our template. Jesus Christ can be invited into your life with a simple prayer of repentance – please see our page – How to be saved – for a simple gospel presentation with a prayer of confession to secure an eternity with God in heaven!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:15-16 NIV)
- GotQuestions.org – What is the definition of sin?