Vol. 1 - No. 3
by Terry L. Sumerlin
Definition can serve a useful purpose if one is interested in knowing what a word means. But, suppose one knows the meaning of a word., and I keep trying to define it anyway. Has the definition then served a useful purpose?
This question comes to mind in a consideration of our teaching regarding sin. Could it be that ineffectiveness is too often the case because we are failing to get past the definition. Sin is a violation of God's law. Certainly, those who don't know this need to be informed. But, what about those who know this? Multitudes who know such; are still sinners and couldn't care less. Their attitude is, “So what?”; and to continue on a course of definition is but to answer questions that aren't being asked. Their question must be answered before they will respond.
John said, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) That is not a mere philosophical abstract. It is an attribute of God which when understood, explains many things. It explains the reason for man's existence. Love is not static. Moreover, it explains the reason for God's laws which are to govern man. There is obvious disparity between the idea that God arbitrarily decided what. man could and could not do, and the statement that God is love. The latter evidences that God's will for man is what is best for him. The fact that man may not always be able to see how it is best does not change the principle. These things being the case, then part of the “So What?” of sin is that it is SELF‑DESTRUCTIVE. Read through the works of the flesh, (Galatians 5:19‑21) and this becomes evident. Think of the loss of self‑esteem that goes with dissipation and sinful attitudes. What about the inner turmoil associated with a trampled conscience? Truly, “the way of transgressors is hard.” (Proverbs 13:15) It's hard because it is not the way man was designed to live.
Furthermore, sin has a profound effect on our RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS. It was not idle talk when Jesus said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) He was stating that which enriches every area of life‑if it is understood and applied. It is not a doing‑as‑others‑have‑done‑principle‑whether their doing has been good or bad. It's not a matter of rewarding for a favor or punishing for an offence. Nor is it action based upon hope of proper treatment. Hope of such has nothing to do with it. Rather, one is to treat another as he would like to be treated‑-regardless. This, in turn brings us back to the “So What?” of sin. Whether one is looking at crime, havoc in the home, problems on the job, or fusses in the church; sin is the source. Thus, unless one is unaffected by the things we have been considering, (in which case his problem is worse yet) it should be increasingly difficult to say, “So What?” What sin does to us and those about us is tragic! But, we are not through.
We are told (Luke 15) that when the prodigal son looked upon his depravity, he came to himself. (Indicative of what sin had done to him.) Then realizing what his sin had done to his father, he made the statement, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” (Luke 15:21) Though his confession to his father is appreciated we are presently concerned with his apprehension of sin. It is first AGAINST GOD‑ “against heaven, and in thy sight.” All other considerations are secondary; they are non‑existent when God is removed from the picture. God sets the standard and the consequences.
Isaiah said that sin separates from God. (Isaiah 59:1‑2) There is no greater consequences than to carry this separation into eternity. “Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9) defies complete description. Fire and brimstone, outer darkness etc., take us as far as our minds can go, as regards “hell.” This is eternal destruction of well‑being resulting from being away from the presence of God. Such is the “So What?” of sin. Yet, it doesn't have to be.
Paul said that this is for those who obey not the gospel. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) This is the gospel made necessary by sin, and given force by the death of Jesus. Anything that required the life of the Son of God must surely deserve more sober reflection than evidenced in a “So What?” Anything less than total obedience to the gospel is indeed a “So What?” as regards sin and the PRICE OF REDEMPTION.