The Gravity of Sin

February 21, 2009

There is a common theoretical question posed by Evangelicals, regarding whether Christ would come to die for a a single sinner. The answer is always ‘yes’, and it is meant to provoke in us an emotional response to God’s passionate love. I present to you a corollary, that should illustrate the gravity of a single sin.

Suppose God has created this world so that in the entire history of it, there is only one sin that is to be forgiven – there may be many other sins, but only one sin that is to be forgiven by God. Would the forgiveness of this single sin require the death of God’s Son? Would he have to traverse through the same difficult, bloody path up the Calvary?

I believe the answer is still a resounding yes. The magnitude of a single sin isn’t just measured by itself, but rather by whose laws it has broken. Sin defames the rightful glory of God. For all sin is in some way idolatry – the act of placing a creature in place of the Creator. As Tim Keller once questioned an unbeliever – “What does it cost your God to forgive you?” Do we truly know the gravity of a single sin, and what Christ had to endure to forgive us of it?

Compassion is a virtue that is extolled by all cultures and religions; forgiveness, the kind that swallows up the pain and dies and resurrects, the kind that reconciles enemies, is a uniquely Christian concept. But we cannot understand how marvelous this forgiveness is when we do not see the gravity of our sins. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Christ; his message was primarily of our sinfulness. Christ told us that he did not come to call on the healthy, but the sick, that blessings are reserved for those who realize their own helplessness.

Compare this to the message we hear from our society. Psychologists tell us that morality is an hindrance to our well being. Naturalism tells us that anything that we say, think, or do, is permissible since we are a result of random sequence of events. Objective moral law is abandoned, and hence our sins are ignored. As Dr. Kreeft says “Moral relativism eliminates that law, thus trivializes repentance, thus imperils salvation.”

The cure for a despondent soul maybe a realization of its sinfulness. When it sees the dirtiness of its clothes, and then sees the new robes of righteousness that Christ enfolds him with, its response will be that of adoration, humility, thankfulness, and love for others.

Some of the saints in the past have said that it is better for the world to be destroyed than for another sin to be committed. I think this is far closer to the truth than utilitarianism. For these saints have seen the true gravity of a single sin, and in so doing, they have seen how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love demonstrated upon the cross really is.


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