God wants us to be happy, but we can not acheive this goal until God is happy with us. Sin makes God unhappy. Are all your sins forgiven? Nothing is more important than this assurance. Food, water, clothing and shelter are important. But all of these have no eternal value. Forgiveness of sins gives us hope of eternal life.
The Bible tells us we can be forgiven. Of course, before we will seek forgiveness we must be convinced we have sinned and are in need of forgiveness.
The gospel (or good news) was first preached on a Jewish feast day called Pentecost about A.D. 30 on the Roman calendar. This is recorded in the second chapter of Acts (2:14-40). In this sermon the persons hearing it were told they had committed a terrible sin: they had crucified the Son of God - Jesus. Here is their response:
"When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37)
Why did they ask such a question? Because they saw themselves as very much in need of forgiveness. Their life had no hope - no peace. They needed to be saved from the penalty of their sin.
We need to ask the same question ourselves. We have all sinned. When we admit our guilt and are willing to follow God's way to forgiveness, we can surely find it.
The very worst thing in life is sin. It separates us from God.
THE MEANING OF SIN
1 John 3:4 defines sin as lawlessness. The person who sins has no respect for God's law. Whatever is done in opposition to God's law is sin. John further said "all wrongdoing (all that is not right as defined by God) is sin . . . " (1 John 5:17).
There are three ways we can sin:
1. We sin when we disobey God by doing things such as committing fornication (sexual intercourse outside of marriage), adultery, getting drunk, worshipping idols, lying, stealing, murder, hatred, and covetousness. Here are references that tell us about this kind of sin. Read them carefully. Matthew 15:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19, 21; Ephesians 4:25-31; 5:3, 4; 2 Timothy 3:2-4; 1 John 3:15.
2. Not only do we sin by doing the things listed above, but also when we fail to do what we know we should do we sin. God wants us to avoid evil - and also to do good! James said:
"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17)
3. We also sin when we have wrong attitudes. God's Word goes right to the heart of sin. Sins in motives, intentions and desires are very serious. Read these references: Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28; Mark 7:21.
THE ORIGIN OF SIN
Satan was the first sinner. "He who does what is sinful is of the devil (Satan), because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8).
Those who practice sin are called sons of Satan or sons of the devil. Read John 8:44; 1 John 3:10.
Satan is always trying to lead us into disobedience to God's will. (Read John 13:2; Acts 5:3.) He does this through temptation. Read 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. Temptation appeals to our natural desires, the desires of the flesh for sex and food. The desire for the things we see or the lust of the eyes - and the pride of life or being like those about us who are sinners (1 John 2:15-17 and James 1:14).
It is not a sin to be tempted. It is only when we disobey God that we sin. Read James 1:12, 15. Even our Lord Jesus was tempted, but he did not sin. Read Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 4:1-11.
The fact that Adam and Eve were tempted by what the devil told them was not sin. (Read Hebrews 4:15 and Matthew 4:1-11 again.) Sin only comes when one yields to Satan's suggestions and disobeys God.
WHO HAS SINNED?
Sad to say, the record of mankind is "all have sinned." None of us can say we are not guilty. As the scriptures say: "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). Read Romans 3:23.
Since all have sinned and the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23), we truly need to be forgiven.
If the only quality in the character of God was justice, we would truly all be lost. But God is love (I John 4:8); therefore he extends grace (unearned favor) to us. Paul tells us we are justified (declared not guilty) freely by his grace through the redemption (purchase with a great price) that is in Christ Jesus. (Read Romans 3:24).
We cannot expect to be forgiven because we are worth it - or for our perfect obedience. It makes no difference how many times we have sinned - the wages of one sin is hell (Romans 6:23). We need to admit our sin and seek his forgiveness. The good news is that God loves us and wants to forgive us.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS AND RESULTS OF SIN?
The effects of sin can be seen everywhere: families are divided, there are prisons, war, and unhappy people all about us. Without Christ and forgiveness people are miserable. The Bible describes such persons as sick spiritually; read Matthew 9:12. They are lost; read Luke 19:10. They are children of the devil; read John 8:44. They are slaves to sin; read Romans 6:16. They live in darkness; read Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 2:11.
The final result of sin is eternal death. There are two deaths: physical death (Hebrews 9:27) and the second death, the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
Physical death is the result of Adam's sin - not our own personal sins. All people face physical death. All people will ultimately be delivered from a physical death. - "For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man (Christ). For as in Adam all die (physically), So in Christ all will be made alive" (at the resurrection). 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22
We do not have to answer for the sins of Adam. God does not hold us responsible for the sins of others, but only for our own personal sins. Read 2 Corinthians 5:10. "So then each of us will give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
This horrible death is an eternal separation from God and Christ. Jesus said to those who refused to turn from sin, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come." (John 8:21). Such persons "will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord" (Read 2 Thessalonians 1:9.) This is the final result of sin. (Read Romans 6:23 and James 1:15).
Hell is a very real place, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Read Matthew 13:42). Other scriptures that should be studied are Matthew 23:33; 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 12:5; 13:25-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Hebrews 10:27, 31; and Revelation 20:10; 21:27; 22:14, 15.
God does not want anyone to go hell. Hell was "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). It is only when a person steadfastly refuses to obey God and obeys Satan that he thus sends himself to hell. It is not God's will that anyone should perish. (Read 2 Peter 3:9). This is why he has provided a way for us to escape guilt and be forgiven. We will study in detail this way of escape in the next lesson.
We are free to choose. We can choose the way that leads to hell - or the way that leads to heaven.
God does not force any of us to follow the way to forgiveness and salvation. (Read John 5:40). But he invites us and gives us the opportunity to come to him if we will. (Read Revelation 22:17).
Are you forgiven? Are you a sinner? We hope this lesson has shown you the terrible results of sin. We do hope and pray you decide to seek God's help.
The next lesson will consider the way of escape and freedom.