Why must Jesus come back?  Why can’t the world go on forever as it has been?

The answer to this question begins with the reason He had to come the first time.

Paul explains it in Ephesians 2:1-7:

“1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  3  All of us also 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.  4  But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7  in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

In other words, we are all “Sinners” who deserve the righteous wrath of The Creator.  But God, out of His love for us, saved us through the perfect sacrifice of His own Son.  Now, those who receive this free gift of mercy will inherit the riches of eternal life.  This is the Gospel.  Unfortunately, most Christians do not fully understand what it means.  They take their salvation lightly, not comprehending what they were saved from!

However, once we know what “Sin” is, the destructive power it wields in our lives, and what Jesus did to redeem us from its power and judgment, we can understand why Jesus must come back.  His work on our behalf won’t be finished until He does.

The Definition and Origin of Sin

The problem with mankind is that everyone is a Sinner (Romans 3:23).  God is so angered by our Sin that He calls us “objects of wrath.”  No matter how much we might ignore it, deny it, or blame it on someone else, God calls Sin the cause of our judgment and condemnation into Hell.  This very idea is abhorrent to us.  Why can’t God just ignore us and leave us alone?  What is His big deal about Sin?

Therefore, we need to discover what Sin is, and why it is worthy of such a judgment.  But at this point, people often get confused and angry, because they are ignorant of what Sin really is.  They get upset when Christians call them Sinners because their understanding of Sin is to do something wrong, to be evil, or to break the law. They can accept the fact that people like Hitler, Stalin, or a mass murderer are Sinners.  They believe that, if there is a hell, these kinds of people certainly deserve to go there (and what kind of just God would let such people in heaven anyway?) But most people really don’t think that they are that bad.  They aren’t real Sinners. Oh, they may have bad days, or they may do things wrong, but really, everyone makes mistakes.  They mean well.  Nobody’s perfect.  Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, most Christians don’t really know what Sin is, either.  (And it is no wonder.  Not one Christian book has been written on the subject in over 150 years!  The only book written on it was by a secular psychologist, Dr. Karl Memminger, entitled, appropriately enough, Whatever Happened to Sin?)  Like non-Christians, believers also tend to define Sin in terms of people’s good or bad behavior.  Sin is “missing the mark” of God’s holy standard.  However, this definition is incomplete.  It is based upon the results of being a Sinner, instead of its root cause.[1]

The reason for this misunderstanding is that the Greek word for Sin, “hamartia,” means “to miss the mark, or bullseye.”  Since people cannot be good enough to attain the level of God’s holiness, they have “missed the mark.”

However, the concept of Sin is a Hebrew one, not Greek.  When the New Testament was written, “hamartia” was the closest word equivalent to the Hebrew concept, but it still could not express all of the original meaning. Therefore, to really understand it, we need to see how the Bible uses the word for Sin.  To do this, we must first go back to the origin of Sin, as described in the Old Testament, to get a complete picture of just what it means to be a Sinner.  Then we will examine the New Testament to see if its writers had the same Hebrew concept of Sin.

The first Sin occurred in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve were created to have fellowship with God (Gen. 3:8) and to rule over His creation on earth (Gen. 1:28).  He gave them everything they needed for their calling. The only requirement was that they were to be under His ultimate authority.  As a sign of this right relationship with their creator and king, they were commanded to obey just one thing: they were not to eat from “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

Into this innocent scene came “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives…” (Rev. 12:9).  We do not know too much about his origin or the events that surrounded his fall (that is his story, not ours).  We do know from the Scriptures that at one time he was a beautiful and powerful being in God’s heavenly realm.  According to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, he sinned and was cast out of heaven to earth.  The essence of his Sin was his desire to “make myself like the Most High”  (Is. 14:14).

Satan expanded his rebellion upon the earth.  He found Adam and Eve in the garden.  It is interesting to note that both Adam and Eve were with each other during the temptation.  When Eve took the fruit and ate, she then turned and “gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6).  Although Adam blamed her for his action, he was right there by her side.  The Bible says that Adam was not deceived or tricked by the devil (1 Tim 2:14); he deliberately chose to listen to his wife instead of God (Gen. 3:17).

How did the devil entice the couple to join his rebellion?  We learn from mankind’s first temptation just how ALL sin begins.  Satan began by attacking the veracity of God’s word, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’” (Gen. 2:1)?  Eve’s pitiful response, which innocently added her understanding of God’s command, was not corrected by Adam:  ”…God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’” (Gen. 2:3).

Next, the Deceiver planted the seed of doubt about the nature of God into Adam and Eve’s minds, saying (probably as he touched the fruit himself), “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).  In other words, “You’re blind and don’t know it.  God is keeping something important from you.  You need to eat this fruit. You need to be like God, so that you can know for yourselves what real wisdom is.”

So, we see the devil opened the door to Sin in Adam and Eve by casting doubt into their minds about the truthfulness of God’s word and the goodness of God’s character.  Sin has at its root unbelief in God’s existence, character, or will.

Mankind’s disbelief in God quickly progresses to rebellion against God’s rulership.  Since we all act upon of our deepest beliefs, if we do not believe that God will rule our lives well we look to our own selves to take over, as the rest of the account shows.

The temptation Adam and Eve faced was not that they were ignorant about what good or evil was.  They already knew!  It was actually a simple matter: God had said that everything was good (Gen. 1:31) and only one thing was bad – to eat from the one tree.[2] The nature of the tree was described by its name, “The Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  In the Hebrew language, to know something meant to experience it intimately.  The word for knowledge here is the same word the Hebrews used for sexual relations:  ”Adam knew his wife, and she conceived” (Gen. 4:1).  So, to eat from this tree meant that they would determine for themselves just what good and evil were.   No longer would they live by God’s definition of good and evil; they would make the choice themselves.  In so doing, they usurped God’s role as ruler over them!  In other words, they would be like God!

Since Adam and Eve did not believe that God’s word was true, nor did they trust that God really had their best interests at heart, they took the fruit and ate.  They wanted to be like God and control their own destinies. They had become Sinners.  Had they broken the Law?  Yes, they violated the only one that existed.  Had they “missed the mark?”  Yes, they had not measured up to God’s standard of holiness.   But before they acted out their sin, before they broke the Law, they had already become Sinners in their hearts through unbelief and their desire for self-determination.  Only then did they begin to practice other acts of unrighteousness (such as disobedience, lying, accusation, shifting the blame, etc.).

Now we can define what Sin is.  Sin begins in our unbelief in the existence, character, and dominion of God.  Unbelief results in man’s desire to rule over his own life and destiny. Ultimately this inner attitude of self-rule causes him to disobey and rebel against God’s will.  In short, Sin is self-rule, caused by unbelief![3]

Sin encompasses more than just bad behavior.  The Bible declares that even the most righteous among us is still a Sinner.  (All of our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, in comparison to God’s holiness! – Isaiah 64:6.)  Sin goes deeper into our nature than just missing the standard of God’s holiness.  In fact, breaking God’s Laws is just the result of being a Sinner.  Self-rulership is at the core of our very being.  It is our essence.  It comes from our hearts.  We are, by nature, rebels against God!

If this definition is accurate, we should see this concept of Sin throughout the Bible.  And so we do.  The moral chaos of Israel during the era of the Judges was summed up as, “In those days there was no king in Israel;everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25, NASB).  Jeremiah described the Sin of the people of his day, “We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart”(Jeremiah 18:12).  And in the famous Messianic prophecy of Isaiah, God compared the waywardness of mankind to that of a lost sheep, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Is. 53:6).

The New Testament also uses this same inner concept of Sin.  Jesus tells us that “The pure in heart will see God” (Matt. 5:8).  He said that the entire will of God for mankind could be summed up with this, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).  But He told the legalistic, self-righteous that, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Matthew15:8-9).  He identified the source of humanity’s evil: “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, …” (Matt. 15:18-19).

Paul says in Romans 1 that even people who have never heard the written word of God have seen the existence and attributes of God in nature:  ”… since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).  An atheistic materialist cannot explain things like love, beauty, or justice on the basis of random chemical reactions.  Nor can an evolutionist explain the complexities of the eye or the anatomy of the sexes by the “survival of the fittest” model of evolution.  No, God’s power, wisdom, creativity and care are all apparent to anyone who chooses to acknowledge them.

However, Paul continues by describing the essence of Sin: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him [they refused to believe or subject themselves to what they did know of Him], but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23).  In their refusal to worship or submit to the true God, humans invent a deity to their own liking.

And what are the results of this unbelief and self-rulership?  ”They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised.  Amen.  Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts… Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.  They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death [just as Adam and Eve also knew the penalty], they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:25,26,28-32).

Paul sums up the Sinfulness of humanity:  ”…Jews and Gentiles alike are all under Sin.  As it is written:  ’There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one’” (Romans 3:9-10).

Finally, we are warned in the Book of Hebrews, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).

We are all Sinners.  All of us, from the depths of our hearts, have turned away from God and gone our own way.  We are self-centered instead of God-centered.  Sin permeates our every thought, action and motive.  We think about ourselves, we love ourselves, we want to control our lives.  We are selfish, self-serving, self-protecting and self-promoting.  When we get up in the morning, our first thoughts our usually about ourselves; when we go to bed at night, our last thoughts are usually about ourselves.  We do everything with our self-interests uppermost in mind.  Even when we love or serve others we often do so out of selfish motives.

Even our language and our culture reflect the extent of Sin’s influence.  ”Look out for number one.”  ”What’s in it for me?”  ”Have it your way!”  ”The Me decade.”  ”You only go round once in life, so grab all the gusto you can.”  ”I am the captain of my fate, the master of my destiny.”  And when it is over, we sing, “I did it my way.”   When we get religious, we want to come to God on our terms, not His.  We make up our own theology.  We bring God down to our level.  ”The answer is within.”  ”The force is within you.”  We find it repugnant to accept God’s only way of salvation.  ”It is too easy.”  ”It’s too narrow.”

The Results of Sin

So what if we are all self-oriented rulers of our own lives?  Why is that so bad?  Well, imagine that the entire world population consists of 50 people living in one large room.  The room has enough food, furniture, and all the necessary amenities of life.  But every person is a Sinner – each a god unto themselves.  How long would it take before conflicts arise between individuals and groups?  Despite the abundance of necessities, when would some people acquire more, while some others would go without?  When would the first murder occur?

This scenario is exactly what took place after Adam and Eve broke free from God’s rulership to try to establish their own.  Soon they were at odds with each other.  ”The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Gen. 3:7).  They were not suddenly becoming modest.  To a Hebrew, nakedness was the supreme embarrassment (c.f. Gen. 9:20-25). All one’s faults and imperfections – physical, mental, emotional, and social – are exposed to the awareness of others.  Adam and Eve, now in control of their own lives, realized that they were imperfect.  So they covered up.  They tried to hide their real selves from each other.  They became afraid and insecure.

Even more devastating for mankind was the result of Sin in regards to their relationship with God.  Unbelief and rebellion are unacceptable in the presence of a real and holy Creator.  Therefore, the guilty couple hid from God.   ”I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid”  (Gen. 3:10).  God knew they had violated His will but He gave Adam the opportunity to confess his guilt.  Instead, Adam – still covering up his inability to rule wisely (and proving it to Eve!) – shifted the blame, “The woman You put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Gen. 3:12).  In other words, “It’s her fault; and it’s Your fault.  But it’s not my fault!” Following her husband’s lead, Eve refused her responsibility for her heart-inspired action and put the total blame on the serpent.

God had promised that the consequence for eating the fruit was going to be death:  ”…for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”  (Gen. 2:17).  Did Adam and Eve die that day?  Yes and no.  No, they did not immediately keel over.  But they did die.  How?  They were now “cut off” from God, the source of life.  Death began to work in and through them.  Most Americans celebrate Christmas with a Christmas tree in their living room.  When we go to select our tree we try to pick the one that is freshest.  We set it up, pouring water into a specially designed base.  We enjoy its aroma and soft pine needles.  Despite all of our efforts to prolong the tree’s “life,” it withers and “dies” within a couple of weeks.  Why?  Because it was already dead!  It died the moment it was “cut off” from its roots.  So it is with humanity.  Sin separates us from the Creator, our Life-giver.  In fact, one of the Hebrew terms used for death is to be “cut off.”

And so we see that death began to work its way backwards into the lives of these Sinners.  Their relationship with God suffered the death of separation.  Their relationship with one another suffered the death of intimacy and partnership and was replaced by fear and competition for each other’s roles.  Soon, their first-born son killed his brother.  How long did it take before sin and death infected everything God had created and called “good”?

Sin affects man’s entire being: his body, his soul, his spirit, his relationships and his society.  Physically, death works its way into life through sickness, injury, genetic problems, etc.  Our souls find themselves ill-equipped to handle the pressures of ruling our own lives.  With unjustified pride some people boldly and arrogantly assert their wills over others, causing injustice and ruin in the process.  Other people, wishing they could be so confident, shrink back into insecurity (which is just the opposite manifestation of pride).[4]  All of our mental or emotional problems can be traced back to this one root called Sin.  Spiritually, we cannot make our way back to God as long as we persist in our march in the opposite direction.  We are blind, deceived, unbelieving and rebellious.  Our best efforts at religion only address our outward behavior, not our inner heart attitude.

When one area of our life is affected by Sin, it also touches other areas.  We carry our Sin into our society and culture.  We can’t seem to get along for any length of time.   Warfare, slavery, injustice, murder, prejudice, etc. are just some of the legacies of Sin.  If it were not for God’s institutions of marriage and government, our Sin would be left completely unchecked.  We would end up killing each other.  One aspect of Darwinism would be true: only the strongest and fittest would survive.

Sin affects the world as well.  Humanity’s desolation of the environment is not a new phenomenon.  Greedy, thoughtless people selfishly destroy and devastate this world if it means some kind of advantage:  ”Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers” (Isaiah 1:7).  The Bible says that the “creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed [at the Second Coming of Christ].  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-22).

Sin also affects the spiritual realm.  When man chose to obey Satan rather than God, he did not gain his independence.  Instead, Satan became the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).  A man is a servant to whomever he obeys.  Those in rebellion against God are now captive to their Sin and to the ruler of Sin (read again
Ephesians 2:1-3 at the beginning of this chapter).  It is no wonder that one of the tactics of the devil is to remain hidden from mankind’s view.  If we really knew that he was controlling our lives through our captivity to Sin, we would probably seek to throw off his shackles ourselves:  ”…that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).

Satan was not alone in his rebellion.  The Bible tells us of the existence of other fallen spiritual beings, called demons, devils or unclean spirits.  Just as we do not know too much about the pre-fallen state of Satan, we know even less about these demons.   There is one passage in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:7-9) that implies that these creatures are fallen angels, and that their number was one-third of the angelic host. Nevertheless, we do know that Satan rules over his realm with their help and that they are organized much like human governments.  Paul declares that “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

These forces of evil take advantage of Sin to rule both individuals and society.  Their rule is based upon the same essential lies and deceit their commander practiced in the Garden of Eden: doubting God’s word, questioning God’s character (or existence) and appealing to our pride and pleasure.  According to the Scriptures, these demonic forces can so control sin-trapped individuals that their state is called “demonized” or, in our common usage, “possessed.”   Jesus said that the devil has come to steal, kill and to destroy (John 10:10).  Mankind’s miserable history is the proof of the existence and effect of Sin.

Sin affects our entire being: body, soul and spirit.  Its power has reached beyond us into our society, our culture and our environment.  Death has followed into each of these areas.  This is our unhappy situation.

Mankind’s Response to Sin

Ever since the Garden mankind has not dealt adequately with our primary fault.  In fact, we have gotten rather adept at not facing up to it.  Here are some less than admirable methods we employ:

Hide it – We can’t bear the scrutiny of the light of truth on our naked sin.  Therefore, we cover up.  We try to look good, whether with material things (clothes, cars, money), power (manipulating or controlling others) or the self-righteousness of religion.  We cover up because we are afraid of the consequences of our sin, or we are afraid of the rejection or ridicule of our exposure.

Blame it – We really can’t help it; it is actually someone else’s fault.  The devil made me do it.  It’s a result of my poor childhood.  It’s society’s fault.  It’s your fault.  But it’s not my fault!  We refuse to take responsibility for our own actions.

Ignore it – We don’t really think about it.  It’s just the way I act in such situations. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain replied, insolently ignoring his guilt.  We push it under the rug as long as possible.  And, we are encouraged to be tolerant of people with sinful lifestyles, as well.

Escape it – We anesthetize its consequences and pain by pursuing other diversions that become addictive: alcohol, drugs, sex, money, power, pleasure, entertainment, etc.

Justify it – We don’t think it is really wrong at all.  Everybody’s doing it.  There is no real right or wrong, it all depends upon the situation and circumstances.  ”Every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Exalt it – We glory in it, boasting, “I am the captain of my fate, the master of my destiny.”  We begin calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  We become proud of our evil deeds, as Lamech boasted to his wives how he killed a man (Gen. 4:23-24).

Worship it – We are really gods.  Our society teaches us that if we knew this truth we would be fulfilled and happy.  We believe the answer to all our problems lies within.  “The Force is with you, Luke.”

We will do anything but confess it and repent!

Sin is a lie, promising us power, pleasure and happiness.  But its end is always the same.  We are trapped in the snares of our own making, leading to death.  The Bible declares that our hearts are deceitfully wicked: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  We are so good at hiding, justifying, blaming and escaping that we deceive ourselves.  We don’t even recognize our own Sin, until the results come crashing down upon us.  Even then, we often can’t or won’t admit the truth about ourselves.  In exasperation, Jeremiah cried out, “Why then has this people, Jerusalem, turned away in continual apostasy? They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return” (Jeremiah 8:5).

Why is there Sin?

If God is good, why did He allow evil?  This is one of mankind’s oldest questions.  It is one that unbelievers like to use in order to refute the existence or character of God.  The answer comes from the Book of Genesis.

God created man differently from the rest of creation.  Genesis 1:26 states, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” When Adam was created, God breathed into him and man became a “living soul” (Genesis 2:7).  There is a part of our nature that IS like God.  We are special.  We are different from the rest of physical nature.  We have the capacity to know God and to have a relationship with Him.  God created mankind in order to share His glory and His love with us, forever.  He created us as beings that were never intended to die.  Just as God is eternal, so are our souls.

People were created to have a personal and loving relationship with God.  In order to make creatures capable of love; God needed to make them capable of not loving Him.  Otherwise, He would have simply made robots that would only done what He had created them to do.

Love, by definition, is something that is freely given.  It can not spring from coercion or manipulation. Therefore, in order to love, a person has to have the freedom to choose not to love.  Free will is necessary for a true and loving relationship.  But free will also means the choice to not love becomes a viable alternative.

The question arises, “Couldn’t God do otherwise?”  ”Couldn’t God create a world where man would freely choose to have a relationship with his creator and not have the opportunity to Sin?”

The answer is no.  It is an illogical statement.  And just because you append the concept of God to an illogical statement does not make it logical.  (Once you choose to go one direction, you cannot go the other way at the same time.)  God chose to give His creation the ability to love Him back – to share in a love relationship. Therefore, the real possibility of not loving had to be present – otherwise the response of man would not truly be love.

And this is precisely our choice today.  We still have the choice to love God and be His creation, or we can choose to love ourselves and be our own rulers.[5]

God’s Response to Sin: Salvation or Judgment

Now that we know what Sin is and what its awful effects on all of us have been, we can understand more fully why God must judge Sin so thoroughly, and what God’s work through Jesus has accomplished.

Man is responsible for his free choice.  Therefore, he is responsible for his Sin.  The Bible declares that we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).  We have seen that humanity deserves the terrible consequences for Sin.  Sin has affected all of life, both individually and corporately.  Even nature has reaped the consequences of our selfishness.  We have truly earned the promised penalty for Sin: death.

God must judge Sin.  Mankind’s Sin means that there are rulers in the universe other than God.  But God, if He is to remain Sovereign, cannot allow the presence of mankind’s self-rule to continue forever.  There has to come a time when He will judge Sin completely, fully, and forever.

However, because of God’s love for His mankind, and for the glory of His Name, He will not allow His highest creation to amount to nothing!  He is able to save and redeem anyone who comes humbly before Him.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, who became the perfect sacrifice for humanity’s Sin.

In His gracious offer of salvation, God made mankind’s choice both simple and clear:  ”For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s only begotten Son” (John 3:17-18).  God’s plan for salvation is easy.  Just as Sin entered the heart of man through unbelief, God begins the end to Sin through our belief!

Notice especially that it is God’s plan for salvation.  Anyone who tries to appease God’s wrath any other way is sidestepping the Sin issue![6]  Once again, God is giving man a simple, direct choice: “Will you follow God’s way, or will you continue to chart your own course?”  The essence of Sin must be addressed when one chooses to follow Jesus: accept God’s way of salvation, or none at all.  There is no other way that can possibly be acceptable to God.  He has done all He can do for man, by giving us His Only Begotten Son.

So, Why Must Jesus Return?

Jesus and the Early Church preached this same message about Sin and Salvation.  They were clear about the nature and effects of Sin. And their Gospel brought people into the Kingdom Rule of God.  Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the good news!”  He was saying, in effect, “God’s rulership is coming.  Turn from going your own way and choose to follow Me.  Believe that My way is right and good.”

Then Jesus demonstrated that the affects of Sin were being overcome by the presence of this rulership of God now at work on earth.  Where there was sickness, He healed it.  Where there was demon infestation, He freed it.  Where there was sorrow or turmoil, he brought peace.  Where there was Sin, He forgave it.  Where there was death, He vanquished it!

Therefore, salvation consists of a complete reversal of the fall of mankind through Sin.  We repent of going our own way, and believe in God and His way!  When we submit to the rulership of God in our lives, we begin to live as His kingdom representatives here on earth, being re-established in our rightful authority.  As we take the Gospel to the world we see others come under His rule.  To the degree that this happens, we begin to see other benefits of His rule take place in cultures and societies.

However, Jesus Himself said that we would never completely finish this task. This world will never fully submit to His rulership until He comes back to put Sin, Satan and Death under His feet.

So, why must Jesus come back?  According to the Bible, His work is not complete until He does.  Jesus came to put an end to Sin, and all its effects – not only in our souls, but also in our bodies, and into all of society, and to put an end to the kingdom of the devil.  The Incarnation and the Cross marked only the beginning of the expansion of Kingdom of God into this world.  The work of the Kingdom will not be complete until Jesus puts all of God’s enemies under His feet at His return.  He promised to return, and when He does, all heaven and earth will shout, “It is done!” (Revelation 16:17), and “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).

[1] This confusion is easy to understand.  It must be noted that the Bible does use the concept of “sin” in two ways.  Most often, it is used to describe the breaking of God’s commandments.  ”Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).  But the Bible also describes an inner attitude – almost like a power within us – that is actually the root cause for our breaking the commandments.    The Bible uses the word for “sin” to define both this inherent attribute of humanity, and the results being in this state. In order to clarify these differing definitions, I will capitalize the word, Sin, when I am referring to this inner attitude.
[2] God had already provided for Adam and Eve everything they needed for food and for delight for the eyes (the other parts of the temptation).  Genesis 2:9 states, “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  How tragic that they did not avail themselves of what Godhad provided, including the tree of life!
[3] Unbelief is not the same as temptation.  Satan can hurl darts of doubt into our minds, as he did with Eve. We can choose to believe him, or we can hold onto God’s word and knowledge of His character.
[4] It is interesting to note that many psychologists think the main reason for our society’s problems is that people do not have good, healthy self-esteem.  However, now that we know what Sin is, we can see that the answer cannot be teaching people to have a better self-esteem.  We consider people who esteem themselves highly as conceited, arrogant, or proud.  On the other hand, people with a low self-esteem are called insecure. They wish they were in more control, but are upset or discouraged with themselves for not being self-confident.  So, if the answer is not to inflate one’s opinion of himself, nor is it to despise one’s self, what is it? God’s solution is that we be restored to right relationship with Him, and to walk in “His-esteem!”
[5] For a more thorough treatment of the subject, see C.S. Lewis’ book, The Problem of Pain.
[6] Even those who are religious and zealous for God and righteousness can be seeking Him from Sinful motives!  Religiously righteous people who do not believe God’s plan of salvation through Jesus are still Sinners at their core.  Paul writes, “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.  Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness”  (Romans 10:2-3).  To say, then,  that other religions are part of God’s will becomes an illogical and even blasphemous concept.