Paul and the Problem of Sin

Over the next three Sunday evening lessons, we are going to focus on the subject of the cross in Paul’s writings. In this specific lesson, we’re going to look at the cross and man’s plight as sinful individuals separated from God.

All Have Sinned

In Romans 3:23, we simply read that all have sinned. Up to this verse, Paul has been dealing with the issue of sin, and the conclusion of the matter is that all are sinful. Backing up to Romans 1:16-17, we read that the gospel is salvation’s power for all. Jew and Gentile alike are guilty (see Romans 1:18-20 and 3:9) in God’s eyes, but salvation is open to all.

Sin is a violation of our reason for existence – serving God and keeping His commandments. Paul plainly states that we are without excuse. There is nothing abstract about this. This is reinforced in Romans 3:9-20.

The Consequences of Sin

Returning to Romans 1, verses 24, 26, and 28 all state that God “gave them up” as a result of sin. Romans 5:10 describes our state as enemies of God when we sin. Before the intervention of the cross, we were at enmity with God. Philippians 3:18, Colossians 1:21 use this same terminology, and these also carry the idea of alienation. Ephesians 4:18 describes those with hardened hearts as separated from God.

Sin puts us at odd with and separated from God. Righteousness and justice cannot condone and fellowship with unrighteousness. Remaining separated bring God’s anger – Romans 2:5, Romans 1:18, and Ephesians 5:6. Disobedience does not please God, and in I Thessalonians 1:10, we are told that only Jesus can deliver us from God’s wrath.

Finally, in Romans 6:23, the ultimate consequence of sin is described – death. Sin and death entered the world at the same time (Romans 5:12), both physical and spiritual death. Again, in Romans 5:15, there is only one solution to this death, and Romans 6:16 says that sin leads to death.

Personal Application

We can treat sin so flippantly, but we need to realize what it does. Sin spiritually kills us, separates us from God, and it incurs God’s judgment. We can choose to sin, or we can choose to avoid sin. The good news is that all is not lost. Remember Romans 1:16: God’s message contains the power to save us. In the next lesson, we will look at the cross and that plan to save us from the wages of sin.

lesson by Tim Smelser