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Topic: The Gospel

Real Guilt, Real Penalties

by Darrel Cline

In another article, (207) in our quest for the answer to the question What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ?, we dealt with the problem of sinfulness and the weakness of the sincerity argument. God requires far more than sincerity to solve the sin problem. He requires absolute moral perfection. But we haven't finished with the sin problem yet.

As we have claimed (and only a very limited few dispute), we are all sinners. But what does this really mean? First, it means real guilt. Second, it means real bondage. And third, it means real lostness. Let's consider these issues.

What does it mean to be really guilty? First, it means that no excuses will be accepted. In this morning's Omaha World Herald there was an article on a gene that makes people worriers. In the light of Jesus' command Be anxious for nothing, this means that we can excuse ourselves from obedience if we have the wrong gene pool. Right? Wrong. Sliding responsibility off to genes is just another way human beings refuse to deal with their guilt problem. We are masters at it and getting better every day. Now we have genetic reasons for our moral perversion, our gluttony, our penchant for worry, and God only knows what else. But, when we stand before Him, we will be guilty. We will have no excuses. You see, the gene-pool rationale is just another way to try to make God accountable for our sin. He made us with defective genes that make us bad. If we buy into that, some day we will get to tell Him face to face--and He is bigger than we are. We might get a crowd of fellow-rebels to agree with us that our guilt is not our fault, but we will never convince God. He knows better. He knows we are only trying to get around our guilt.

But real guilt with no excuses isn't the worst part of the problem. The worst part is that real guilt brings real penalties. The justice of God says that for every sin there is an equal consequence. What does that mean? An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. In other words, the punishment must fit the crime. But what most of us do not realize is that the crimes are first against God and only secondarily against our fellow human beings. That means that our sins must be weighed against the standard of the One against Whom we have sinned--and the penalty must fit. To the degree that we have produced pain for God, to that degree we must endure pain under the justice of God. But what does that mean? God is infinite. What He endures He endures to an infinite degree. Thus, every sin we have committed has created an infinite pain and demands an infinite penalty. That is why Hell exists and men never cease to exist. Men must pay forever because their sins have had an infinite impact. So being guilty is only the beginning of our woe; being incapable of paying an infinite penalty means enduring pain forever.

No wonder men look for excuses! How do we pay a just payment for our sins? Without such payment we are doomed.

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This is article #208.
If you wish, you may contact Darrel as darrelcline at this site.