Dead Men Walking
The title of this post does not sound very inviting, does it? Certainly, the tone is somber. However, God’s Word says this (in part):
But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, (Galatians 3:22)
followed by this (in part):
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, (Colossians 2:13)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:1-2)
The inevitable result of being dead in one’s sins is this (in part):
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; (Galatians 6:8)
and that destruction is ensured (in part):
For the wages of sin is death, (Romans 6:23)
Please understand that this testimony is not only from the New Testament of Holy Scripture, but from the Old Testament of Holy Scripture as well: God’s Word with regard to sin and its deadly effects are consistent across His entire testimony. The Old Testament book of Ezekiel has a telling testimony regarding ‘the soul who sins will die’:
The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: ” ‘The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son – both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. “Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right. He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or lie with a woman during her period. He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He does not lend at usury or take excessive interest. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between man and man. He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign LORD. “Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things (though the father has done none of them): “He eats at the mountain shrines. He defiles his neighbor’s wife. He oppresses the poor and needy. He commits robbery. He does not return what he took in pledge. He looks to the idols. He does detestable things. He lends at usury and takes excessive interest. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head. “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: “He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife. He does not oppress anyone or require a pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He withholds his hand from sin and takes no usury or excessive interest. He keeps my laws and follows my decrees. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. “But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:1-32)
In this testimony from the book of Ezekiel, observe the perfect justice and righteousness of God: condemnation comes upon a person only because of the sin that person willfully commits. The soul that sins will die… the soul that repents of sin and that turns away from sin will live… all persons will answer to God for the sins that they, and they only, have committed. Especially note the mercy of God, in that He declares that He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone: it is the desire of God that every person be forgiven and granted eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
That judgment will come is testified to by Jesus Christ, the only Son of God:
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
and it is borne out by additional testimony from the New Testament from the book of Romans:
It is written: ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12)
and the book of Hebrews (in part):
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)
A concept that is central and critical to a proper understanding of the nature of sin, and why God treats it so seriously is this:
we sin because we choose to sin.
Witness a telling testimony from the book of James:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)
This completely destroys the argument that people commit sin because ‘That’s just the way that I am; I was made this way and I can’t help it”. Such a viewpoint demeans Almighty God and makes the grace that allows for the forgiveness and the free pardon of sins seem not all that special. Holy Scripture characterizes those who indulge in such a worldview:
Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:22)
We are all… dead men walking.
Now that the case has been made as to what we are because of our sin nature, and the offense that we give God because of the sins in which we freely choose to indulge… what, then, can we do about it?
Let’s return to the Holy Scripture that was provided noted as being ‘(in part’). It is the missing parts of the verses (and additional supporting verses) that will provide what the answer is as to how we escape the just, pure, holy and righteous condemnation of God (italic emphasis mine):
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
Jesus Christ is the answer.
Through His once-for-all sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty of God’s awful wrath against a sinful humanity, allowing those who believe in Him to stand blameless and justified before a holy and righteous God. Holy Scripture gives a beautiful picture of the status of those who believe in the One that God has sent:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
There are not many ways to God… there is ONE WAY:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
This is all the truth that anyone needs to know:
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
REPENT… and LIVE.