God presented [Christ Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:25-26
What good is a law if it is not enforced? For example, a stretch of road has a posted speed limit, but people go too fast because it is infrequently patrolled by the police. A parking space in front of the store is reserved for those with handicap permits, but able-bodied drivers ignore the sign because they are quite sure that parking there will be overlooked. We’ve all done things that go against the law. If we are not forced to pay the price for our wrongful actions, we are just emboldened to keep doing them. We conclude that the authorities aren’t serious or don’t care, so we can just do as we want without any fear of consequence.
It’s tempting to think that way about God. In his patience, he does not quickly bring judgment on us for our offenses against his law. As a result, we might be led to think that he is not serious when he threatens punishment for sin. And if we think that he is not serious about sin, we feel that we can just live according to our own desires without fear of his justice.
The truth is that sin is very serious. In fact, God says that the consequence of sin is death! And that’s more than the kind of death associated with cemeteries. The consequence of sin is eternal death – condemnation in hell!
The fact that God “left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” is not because he isn’t serious about sin. It is because he mercifully loves us. Instead of carrying out his justice on us who truly deserve it, he laid the punishment for our sin on his Son. By shedding his blood on the cross, Jesus died the death that God’s justice demanded for sinners. With his justice completely satisfied by Jesus who served as our substitute, God has justly declared us free from the condemnation of death. Trusting in Jesus we have the gift of life with God forever!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to never minimize the seriousness of sin. Lift up my eyes to see the cross to count the cost that was paid there by my Savior to take away the punishment I deserved. Lead me to praise Jesus always for the life he has given me. Amen.