Jehovah gave the first man the prospect of living forever. Only if he rebelled against God would Adam lose that marvelous prospect. Adam did rebel, and when he did, he became a sinner. (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:6) Adam acted in a way that was contrary to God’s will, fell short of perfection, and marred his relationship with God. When he committed sin by breaking divine law, he began to die. Sadly, all of Adam’s descendants—including us—were born in sin, and we are destined to die because of it. Why?
The reason is quite simple. Imperfect parents cannot produce perfect children. All of Adam’s offspring were born sinners, and as the apostle Paul notes, “the wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:23) The second half of that verse, though, gives us hope: “But the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is to say, by means of the sacrificial death of Jesus, it is possible for obedient, appreciative mankind to be cleansed of the effects of the sin that Adam committed. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18, 19) How should that make you feel?
Christ’s Love “Compels Us”
The inspired apostle Paul gave God’s answer to the above question. He wrote: “The love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have judged, that one man died for all; . . . and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) If a person appreciates that Jesus’ sacrifice can potentially free him from the effects of sin—and he desires to show gratitude for that provision—he should strive to live his life in accord with God’s wishes for him. This includes acquiring an understanding of what God requires, training his conscience according to Bible standards, and then living his life in harmony with them.—John 17:3, 17.
Wrongdoing damages our relationship with Jehovah God. When King David recognized the seriousness of his adultery with Bath-sheba and the murder of her husband, he no doubt felt great shame. But what concerned him most—and rightly so—was that his sins had offended God. He contritely admitted to Jehovah: “Against you, you alone, I have sinned, and what is bad in your eyes I have done.” (Psalm 51:4) Likewise, when Joseph was tempted to commit adultery, his conscience caused him to ask: “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?”—Genesis 39:9.
Sin, then, is not just a question of feeling bad about ourselves because we may have lost face. It is not just a case of having to answer to public opinion or to society because we may have fallen short of some ideal. Violating God’s laws on sex, honesty, respect, worship, and so on, damages our personal relationship with him. If we deliberately practice sin, we are making ourselves God’s enemies. This is a truth that demands sober reflection.—1 John 3:4, 8.
So whatever happened to sin? The fact is that nothing happened to it. People just began calling it by other names in hopes that it would appear less serious than it is. Many either dulled or ignored their conscience. All who desire God’s favor must resist such a tendency. As we have seen, the wages of sin is, not just a bruised ego or embarrassment, but death. Sin is a matter of life and death.
The good news is that forgiveness through the redeeming value of Jesus’ sacrifice is possible if we sincerely repent of our sins and leave them. “Happy are those whose lawless deeds have been pardoned and whose sins have been covered,” wrote Paul. “Happy is the man whose sin Jehovah will by no means take into account.”—Romans 4:7, 8.