From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 6 – The bad news first – sin and its consequences.
The moment when Adam and Eve first sinned was when the whole human race fell from its level of perfection to the dismal level where it is now. Consider these verses which refer to the separation that resulted between God and man. That separation arose because God could not allow sinful people like you and me to be in His presence:
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)
The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.Exodus 32:33 (NIV)
5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.Psalm 5:5-6 (NIV)
6 You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the LORD abhors.
1Help, LORD, for the godly are no more,Psalm 12:1-2 (NIV)
the faithful have vanished from among men 2Everyone lies to his neighbour;
their flattering lips speak with deception
Now look at the passages below from apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. Chapter 1 of Romans is filled with important insights about the way people really are. Paul explains what a person’s heart and mind are like and how wicked we can be when we don’t repent or believe in God. He also deals with the difficult question of what happens to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ or the Bible Can they be considered guilty even if they have never had a chance to know what the Bible says?
The answer Paul gives is that nobody has any excuse for not believing in God. That is because the evidence of God’s existence is plain for all to see. It is obvious because of His creation, i.e. the world and all the plants, animals, birds, fish, stars, and people that God has made. Even if we do not have the Bible, we can see all these things. They are enough in themselves to prove God’s existence. So all men know deep down, that there is a God. They deny and ignore God because they don’t want to obey Him. It is a deliberate choice to reject God.
Likewise, no person anywhere in the world, has any excuse for the sins they commit, even if they have never heard of Jesus. We all know, deep down, what is right and wrong. We all do evil things because we choose to do so, even if we have never heard of the Bible. So, a man isn’t guilty because he doesn’t know about Jesus Christ. He is guilty from the very beginning, because He chooses to reject God, whose existence is obvious. And he is guilty because he chooses to do sinful things, the wrongness of which is also obvious.
We all know all of that instinctively because of the conscience that God has put within us. It is like a form of ‘software’ which enables all of us to tell right from wrong. We all have that conscience programmed into us and we all deliberately choose to ignore it. So, we are all without any excuse. We are all guilty and deserve God’s punishment, whether or not we know the Bible or have heard of Jesus Christ:
18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.Romans 1:18-23 (NIV)
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Paul goes on in the same chapter to explain that people choose to reject God, even though His existence is obvious. They worship false gods instead and thus become fools. Therefore, God eventually leaves them to get on with it. What it means is that because people decided to reject and ignore Him He “gave them over” or let them go, so that they could be free to behave as badly and as foolishly as they wanted to.
In other words, if we show God that we are determined to reject Him and to sin, He will, eventually, wash His hands of us. He then leaves us to take our sin and our stupidity to their limits. Look at verses 24-32 below to see the kinds of things people go on to do when they are left to behave as they wish:
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.Romans 1:24-32(NIV)
28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
The letter to the Romans was written over 19 centuries ago but is as up to date as if it was written yesterday. Paul says that God’s existence is obvious simply by looking at the natural world which He created. Thus, if we decide not to believe in God we are sinning because, deep in our hearts, we all know that He is real. Yet, we still choose to deny His existence and ignore Him. As a result we degenerate and our lives become ever more corrupt and depraved. God therefore has no alternative but to separate Himself from us.