God’s Remedy for Sin
What is it? How can we benefit by it?
WHAT is the trouble with this world? It has an affliction called sin. Like the sting of a venomous serpent, the effect of sin is death: “The sting producing death is sin.” (1 Cor. 15:56) What is the antidote or remedy for “the sting producing death”? Is this remedy available for all kinds of sin?
Before a doctor prescribes a remedy for an affliction, he diagnoses the trouble. He must know just what the affliction is. What, then, is this affliction called sin?
The Greek word for sin originally meant to miss, as to miss one’s road. Later it came to mean to fail of doing or to miss one’s point. The Hebrew word originally meant to miss, hence to fail. Because of sin, man misses the mark, he goes wrong, he falls short of the righteous and perfect requirements of Almighty God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Rom. 3:23.
So today there are not some persons on the earth who are perfect and sinless, whereas others are imperfect and sinful. All human creatures, descendants of Adam, have inherited sin and the consequences of sin: “The wages sin pays is death.” If a man were without sin, he would not be faced with the certainty of death. Adam, in his perfection, was under no sentence of death. By obedience to God’s laws Adam could have lived on this earth forever. Only by an act of willful disobedience could Adam come under the sentence of death. Declared Adam’s Creator: “As for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Rom. 6:23; Gen. 2:17.
It was right for God to demand this obedience. Adam owed his very existence to his grand Creator. When the first couple, in sheer willfulness, violated God’s law, they sinned; and sin brought the death penalty. Since no children were born to Adam and Eve until after they had sinned, none of their offspring were born perfect. All inherited the evil consequences of sin—death. Thus the apostle Paul wrote: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12.
Man’s Creator, then, is not responsible for sin. God’s works are perfect. He cannot be charged with blame for sin: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he. They have acted ruinously on their own part; they are not his children, the defect is their own.”—Deut. 32:4, 5.
Chiefly to blame for the start of human sin is Satan the Devil. This spirit creature turned himself into a devil through covetousness and pride and then induced the first human couple to sin. So God’s remedy for sin must embrace the destruction of the one chiefly to blame for human sin. “He who practices sin originates with the Devil,” writes the apostle John, “because the Devil has been sinning from when he began. For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) God has appointed Jesus Christ to “break up the works of the Devil”; he will do this by means of God’s kingdom. This kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ will destroy this sin-filled world and ultimately bring an end to inherited sin itself. As the apostle says: “He must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be destroyed.”(1 Cor. 15:25, 26) Since the effect of sin is death, death’s destruction means the end of sin.
What must individuals do who long to survive the destruction of this sin-filled world to enter the blessedness of a sinless new world? They must learn of God’s promised new world soon to replace this world: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) They must learn that the basis for surviving the end of this world and for gaining everlasting life in the new world is the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
It was necessary for the perfect Son of God to come to earth and to surrender his sinless human life in behalf of Adam’s descendants. As the only perfect or sinless man born of a woman, Jesus could have lived on the earth forever. But it was the will of God that Jesus sacrifice his right to live forever on this earth. Any of Adam’s descendants can benefit from Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, as John wrote: “He is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 2:2.
God’s remedy for sin, then, includes the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God by means of which the benefits of that sacrifice will be dispensed to all obedient men of good will.
NO ROOM FOR WILLFUL SIN
Does this mean that, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, one is guiltless before God if he continues to practice sin? Answers the apostle: “Shall we continue in sin, that undeserved kindness may abound? Never may that happen! . . . do not let sin continue to rule as king in your mortal bodies that you should obey their desires.”—Rom. 6:1, 2, 12.
So the Christian wishing to benefit from God’s remedy for sin cannot willfully practice doing what God condemns. To benefit from God’s remedy for sin, one must be thoroughly devoted in heart and mind to the doing of the divine will. Despite heart-deep love for God’s laws a Christian will sin because of his Adamic inheritance. Concerning inherited sin the apostle wrote: “I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.”—Rom. 7:21-25.
Though God has provided a remedy for inherited sin, there is none for the practice of willful sin. The Bible differentiates between inherited sin and willful sin: “If anyone catches sight of his brother sinning a sin that does not incur death, he will ask, and he will give life to him, yes, to those not sinning so as to incur death. There is a sin that does incur death. It is concerning that sin that I do not tell him to make request.” (1 John 5:16) What is this sin that incurs death and for which there is no remedy?
Jesus Christ spoke of a sin for which God’s remedy does not apply. Said Jesus: “Whoever blasphemes against the holy spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is guilty of everlasting sin.” And the inspired apostle Paul also wrote: “If we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left.” One who learns of God’s will, knows God’s commandments and then continues willfully, deliberately to practice sin disqualifies himself from receiving the benefits of God’s remedy for sin.—Mark 3:29; Heb. 10:26.
So there is a difference between an act of sin caused by inheritance of sin and the willful practice of sin. If one commits a sin, how may he know whether he can receive forgiveness? How can one be certain he has not committed sin that is unforgivable?
DIFFERENT HEART CONDITIONS
The one who practices sin for which there is no remedy or forgiveness makes sin a regular course in his life. He consciously and deliberately practices that which violates the law of God. He knows what he is doing; he sins with his eyes wide open. He makes a deliberate practice of wickedness. He is not repentant. He does not crave forgiveness, nor does he earnestly pray for God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. He does not turn away from his evil course of action.
On the other hand, one who commits “a sin that does not incur death” has a different heart condition. He feels cut to the heart at his course of action. He repents for what he has done. He prays earnestly and perseveringly to God for forgiveness. He does not give up in doing what is right. He does not repeat willful sins, making sin a regular practice in his life. He has mature members of the Christian congregation pray for him: “Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, rubbing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.” He shows by his future course of action that he is not a willful, deliberate sinner “guilty of everlasting sin.” So the heart condition of those who commit unforgivable sin is entirely different from that of those who commit forgivable sin.—Jas. 5:14, 15.
The Christian loving God’s law will do all he can to safeguard himself from the “sin that does incur death.” He guards against small acts of sin, knowing that unfaithfulness in small things, if unchecked, could lead into gross sin of unfaithfulness to God. He studies the commandments of God; he embeds them deeply in his heart and mind. He trains his conscience by the law of God. His love for God and the divine law causes him to flee from temptations, even as God’s faithful servant Joseph did.—Gen. 39:10-12.
Benefit from God’s remedy for sin. Exercise faith in the sin-removing ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ and fix your hope on God’s kingdom. Place yourself in line to gain everlasting life in God’s sinless new world by doing the divine will now. To Jehovah’s unfading glory, no death-producing inherited sin will be left to corrupt that new world, for then will be fulfilled the inspired words: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:4.