If God were to maintain his justice, holiness and goodness while also extending his mercy, grace, and love to us then there is a very specific course that must happen. Since sin happened at the hands of man then a man (human) must pay for sin. But the problem is, all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, the pool is very small-nonexistent actually. The one who pays for sin must be sinless. He must be a perfect man. What’s more, he must be God so that he could bear the eternal weight of divine wrath and restore humanity to life and holiness. No mere man could bear this weight and no mere man could perform this task.
An interesting thing happens when we watch a movie or read a book. We are able to simultaneously live amid two realities. On the one hand, we are wrapped into the movie or the book. We lean forward in our seats, clench our fists, perhaps even shed a tear or two.
But, at the same time, we know that it is not real. After all, we paid for a ticket to the show! Regardless, we can effortlessly live between what is real and what is fantasy. In the wisdom and kindness of God’s creative design, we can enjoy refreshment amid our daily life while still living in it. It is something of a recreational vacation without having to travel.
And, we don’t really feel the tension, we certainly don’t ask questions–we just enjoy the entertainment benefits.
I’ve observed a similar dynamic with the Christian life. We know that we sin—even as Christians, we sin. We know also, that God is holy. We have these two realities side by side: our sin and God’s holiness. Do you feel the tension? These two realities don’t seem able to coexist.
How can they?
Well, we know…it’s because Jesus died for us. That’s why. TRUE.
But let me push it a bit….
How does this work? How can you be a sinner and the Holy God accepts you? God is not less holy and your sin is not less sinful. So, how does this work?
My point is that many of us do not think deeply about the dynamics of the gospel. Like a visit to the theater, we are content to just enjoy the show without thinking much about what is happening. We are just content to live without asking and answering the important questions.
Now, maybe, just like the tension in a book or a movie, maybe the biblical tension has never occurred to you.
This is ok. But, today, I want you to think it though.
There are only a few options available as to how God could maintain his holiness while forgiving a sinner like me and you.
- Compromise. Maybe God could change? His standards were a bit zealous and unrealistic, really. Now, after thinking things through and seeing how things went, he decides to change. He could compromise. He will no longer regard absolute perfection as the standard, instead, he will grade on something of a curve. This really is the default view of God and sin. If people reject the Christian view of God and sin, but still believe in God, this is what he is like. He is a God who will make a deal with you. As long as you are sincere, want to change, and try your best–he’ll meet you halfway.
- Ignore sin. Maybe God could just not deal with sin?