The Problem of Sin
The problem that sin causes is quite severe. It breaks our relationship with God. This has been true since the beginning.
Right from the beginning the disobedience of Adam and Eve caused them to lose their place in the Garden of Eden and their relationship with God. Let’s go back to Genesis 2 and find out what happened there.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
At this point God put a warning before Adam, but He also gave him a choice. He could either choose to obey God and do what He said, or he could choose to ignore and disobey Him. As we read on, we find out that Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation to eat of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because the serpent deceived them by telling them they wouldn’t die (Genesis 3:1-7).
Before you can appreciate the full value of the solution that God provided through Jesus, you must understand the severity of the problem that sin causes, our eternal separation from God. If you die physically while you are spiritually separated from God, you will be separated from Him forever. But through Jesus, God provides the way for you to accept His grace, forgiveness, and mercy. This means that He will restore you, bought by the blood of Jesus, redeemed back into a relationship with Him.
The book of Ephesians, written by Paul, reminds the Christians in Ephesus how they used to be separated from God. As Paul begins this letter, he tells them of the present spiritual blessings they have in Christ Jesus.
…(God) has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ…In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
The truth is, the Ephesian Christians had not always had these blessings.
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. All of us lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
Note what caused them to be dead: being separated from God. Separation from God was caused by their sins. He also says how they got into this situation. They followed the ways of this world and the spirit of disobedience, Satan. They followed the cravings and desires of their flesh. You and I are just like them. We have followed the passions of our flesh, too. We must seek the same solution that God promised them, or at the Day of Judgment we will receive God’s wrath.
Notice the bold text in Ephesians 2:1-6: “You were dead, but God made us alive in Christ Jesus.” God provides the solution motivated by His love for us. When we put our faith in Jesus, He gives us grace.
Now let’s talk about the good news. Notice what Paul says.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Now we have a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news.
Paul says that it is by grace that we are saved through faith. God has provided Jesus as the solution to our sin problem. When we put our faith in Him, God gives us grace. Later we will talk about what kind of faith we need in order to receive grace.
Notice that God’s grace is a gift. You don’t earn a gift. Many believe that if they do enough good things to outweigh the bad they have done, they can win God’s favor. They believe He will ignore the bad things if the good far outweighs the bad. That is not in the Bible. If this were possible, Jesus didn’t need to die.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says we are saved to do good works. It is not the works that save us. We need our sins completely washed away by the blood of Jesus, and then our good deeds bring glory to God.
Throughout the ages sin has been a terrible problem between man and God. God has provided the solution to that problem by sending Jesus as a sacrifice for your sins. When He shed His blood on the cross, the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of God became available to you. How you respond to that kind of love is extremely important to God. He wants you to believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died for you. When you realize that your sins cost Jesus His life and repent, He wants you to respond to His love by surrendering your life to Him in baptism. We will talk more about this in upcoming lessons.