Before reading the article, please listen to this short audio clip of Matt Stinton’s view of sin that he posted on Instagram:
Although I am aware you can be theologically correct without quoting Scripture, as Christians, when we decide to “preach”, especially to the masses as evangelism, we should always point back to the Word of God as the ultimate authority. Christians should never build their theology and sermons from what we “think” but from what is found in the Word of God. What I first noticed about Matt’s video is that everything he was saying was simply what he was “thinking.” We must be careful as Christians not to be giving what sounds like an opinion, but Biblical theology and doctrine that is found in God’s Word (Titus 1:9-11). Just as a doctor strives to gives an accurate and correct diagnosis of his or her patients for a treatment, as ministers of the Gospel, we should also endeavor to speak the truth of the human diagnosis and preach the treatment, which is found in the beautiful work of Jesus.
For the sake of this article, I would like to change Ben Shapiro’s famous quote “Facts don’t care about your feelings” to “Scripture does not care about your feelings.” We must represent the Triune God of the Bible accurately and let the world know the truths of God that are revealed in His Word regardless if it offends. It upsets me that Christians today are more concerned with the feelings of the world than transgressing against the Author of Life.
What is Sin?
Sin can be defined as an immoral act that is a transgression against the Holy God and His divine law. The Bible is clear from Genesis to Revelation that all have transgressed against God making us sinners. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Isaiah 64:6) and “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) are just two out of many verses found throughout the Bible to support this. And for the one who says, “I am not a sinner,” Scripture says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign”1 as R.C Sproul wrote in His Christian Classic The Holiness of God. Christian, always remember the best of men are men at best, and that is a sinner. We are only made righteous and pure because of the blood and work of Christ.
In addition to Matt’s thought of sin, if your conception of sin is simply “someone standing on the sidewalk with a sign saying ‘God hates your sin’, you have not only no understanding of sin but also have not internalized the severe transgression against the One who gives life.
Is God “offended” by Sin?
Yes! We can see this from the first sin that caused sin to enter the world (Romans 5:12) when Eve disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3:3). The sin here was the commandment of God not obeyed, the wisdom of God not esteemed, and the wrath of God not feared. It offended God so much He cast Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23) and as one of many consequences, Adam labored (Genesis 3:19). To say, “now obviously God is not a fan of sin” is a sugar-coated, perversion of God’s emotion towards sin. God isn’t only offended by sin; He hates it. “Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On the account of these God’s wrath is coming” (Colossians 3:5-6). We see the wrath of God all throughout the Bible from Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), The Flood (Genesis 7), the Babylonian captivity/exile (1 & 2 Kings; Jeremiah), Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D (Luke 21:5-38), to the glorious Crucifixion of Christ (1 John 4:10) and the soon to come judgment (Revelation). The wrath of God isn’t just spoken of all throughout scripture; it is an attribute of God just like any other attribute of His. In J.I Packer’s book Knowing God he says, ” ‘Wrath’ is an old English word defined in my dictionary as ‘deep, intense anger and indignation”. ‘Anger’ is defined as ‘stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult’; ‘indignation’ as ‘righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness’. Such is wrath. And wrath, the Bible tells us, is an attribute of God.”2
Does God not want us to sin because of “what it does to us”?
Matt Says, “Here is where I want to get at: God is not a control freak. He is not sitting up in Heaven trying to control everything we do so that we don’t do something that offends him. It’s not that, the reason that God does not like sin it’s not because it offends Him, it’s because of what it does to us.” His first premise about God not being a control freak is true, amen! A control freak is someone who is uncontrollably obsessed with taking command of any situation and is aware of itself as not sovereign. Our God is not a being who cannot control Himself; He is in control of not only Himself but of all of His creation. He is not trying to be in control, He is in control. He is the sovereign one and there is no other like Him. “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’ “(Isaiah 46:9-10).
However, It’s a lie to say that God’s mere concern with sin is simply because of what it does to us and not because it offends him. To believe in such a notion is to have a simplistic, self-centered view of sin and not a Christ-centered one. We have already seen clearly through Scripture that God hates sin and to deny it is like one who denies the Earth is round. Knowing this, as Christians, we should repent and veer far away from our sin to walk in a righteousness manner that is pleasing to our Lord because God is holy. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
It is not a mere choice for us to not pursue holiness; it’s a command from our Lord. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness”(1 Thessalonians 4:7). Christians should be determined to live a holy life (Romans 12:1) first and foremost because God commands it. When we begin to strive for the holiness that God calls us to, it please, brings glory and honor, and also reflects to all of the fallen creation who the triune God of Scripture is. One of the reasons God gave the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament to His chosen people of Israel was to remind them that they are to be different from all the other nations. Just as God is set-apart and different from us, laws such as these were woven in Israel’s social and economic fabric, diet, and theology to constantly remind Israel that they were God’s chosen and were to be holy just as their God is holy from all of the fallen creation. Biblical Scholar Paul Copan writes in his book Is God a Moral Monster? ” So what the Israelites did in their everyday lives – even down to their eating habits – was to signal that they were God’s chosen people who were to live lives distinct from the surrounding nations. Every meal was to remind them of their redemption. Their diet, which was limited to certain meats, imitated the action of God, who limited himself to Israel from among the nations, choosing them as the means of blessing the world.”3 Our first reasons for why we are not to sin is not because of what it does to us but because He commands us to be holy just as He is, and then because sin brings death – which is what it does to us. (James 1:15).
If God is not offended by our sin, then Christ work is meaningless.
If you have been a Christian for some time, it is likely your ears have heard the famous hymn “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend. In His beautiful song are the Biblical lyrics “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” “Biblical?” you might ask. Yes, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life”(Romans 5:9-10). Why did the Triune God of Scripture sovereignly choose such action? Because it is said, “It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”(Romans 3:26). Even the prophet Isaiah spoke of this in the Old Testament in his Messianic prophecy of what was to happen to the Jesus: “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned –everyone- to his own way; and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all”(Isaiah 53). A brother in Christ once told me “When I read ‘For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21), I just do not comprehend it!” And I wholesomely agree!
Christ’s Atonement for the sins of His people is explained in a multiplicity of ways. For example, the killing of Jesus is viewed as a ransom to God, breaking us free from the captivity of sin and conquering Satan (Mark 10:45; Colossians 2:13-15), Love for His “friends” (John 15:13), and what we know as penal substitution, which is the essential concentration of our Lord’s atonement. Penal Substitution is the penalty that is rightly due to us for our sin paid by Christ Jesus, the substitute. In the Garden of Eden God warned Adam that the penalty of sin was death (Genesis 2:16-17). This is consistent with the old covenant sacrificial system in Leviticus. In this system Israelites were to place their hand on the sacrificial animal, portraying the transmission of sin and guilt from the sinner to the substitute, before the animal was sacrificed as atonement. (Leviticus 4). It was a foreshadowing and mirroring of what Christ Jesus was to come and do.When we say, “God is not offended by our sin” or that God is only concerned with sin because of “what sin does to us”, knowing that the wages of sin
When we say, “God is not offended by our sin” or that God is only concerned with sin because of “what sin does to us”, knowing that the wages of sin is death and that there had to be atonement for it, we are belittling the decree of the Father (Acts 2:23) and the work of Christ. It means that not only is Christ death and resurrection in vain but you also make God to be contradicting Himself, which is to call Him a liar – and that is a dangerous road to walk. “God is not a man, that he should lie” (Numbers 23:19). To speak from the pulpit of Christ’s death as a simple, man-centered atonement for our sins on the basis of what sin does to us is a different Gospel. Throughout the New Testament, it is crystal clear that there is only one Gospel that the Apostles preached; that was the standard. “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaim, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different Gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4). And if you preach another you are “accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Christ death and resurrection atoned for our transgressions (sin) against a holy, righteous, and just God and in that God’s wrath is satisfied.
Christianity has been written off and the church should change its message?
To hear out of the mouth of a professing Christian say, “Christianity has been written off” because the call to repentance makes people feel guilty and that therefore the church should “change its message” is flat out heretical. Since when do feelings trump the truth revealed in God’s Word? Please, tell me a moment in Christendom when the church was not being “written off”. You won’t find such a time. Since the inception of Christianity the Church has been despised by the world and Jesus even warned us when he said, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18) and therefore, “You will be hated by everyone because of me” (Matthew 10:22). We never conform the Gospel to the ears of the world! Why you ask? Again, Jesus said in The High Priestly Prayer, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). The Apostle Paul said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Always expect the world to try and write off Christianity because of the Gospel, which has always been the message of salvation through repentance of sin and faith in Christ Jesus.
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus called all to repent, which is defined as an expression of sincere contrition of one’s sin, and as a result, strives to turn away from such action. From John The Baptist to the Apostles, the call of repentance has been consistent. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” (Acts 2:38). Peter did not say “only some of you”, or “the majority”, he said “every one of you”. And to emphasize the importance more, please read Luke 13:1-5 when Jesus says “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). It was not an option but a command to all of God’s image bearers to repent. To separate the call to faith in Jesus Christ from repentance is a sloppy preaching of the Gospel. Jesus and the Apostles always called people to faith in Christ with repentance and we are called to do the same regardless of how people feel. The message of the Gospel does not conform to the world; the world is commanded to conform to the Gospel. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian, which is someone who professes Jesus as Lord but continues to live and love his or her sin (1 John 3; Matthew 7:21-23). “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil”(1 John 3:9-10). A true Christian has a hate and contrition of his or her sin, and although he or she may fall back into their sinful desires, there is a constant pursuit of sanctification in their life (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:1-2). We must never stray away from calling the Church to live a holy life and preach to repent from the sin in one’s life. We do not continue to practice the ways our Lord and Savior died for.
Last but surely not the least; imagine hearing a Gospel that says, “Come to God because He is Good” for just a moment. One of the most terrifying realities an image bearer of God can hear is that God is Good. Why? Because you are not good and God is! So what does it take for you to have fellowship eternally with God? Repent of your sin and put your faith in Christ Jesus, who died for the sins of the ones whom would believe in Him (John 3:16; Acts 3:19). It is by the blood of Christ that makes us righteous in the eyes of God and washes us clean from our sin (Romans 5:1-11). Die to yourself daily and pick-up your cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Jesus is The Way, and The Truth, and The Life and No one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). Salvation is found through no other name but Christ Jesus (Acts 4:12).
1. R.C Sproul PhD., The Holiness of God (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale, 1985), pg. 115-116
2. J.I Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), pg. 134.
3. Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2011), pg. 81