Are all sins really deserving of death?

I was reading a small section of Deuteronomy in my devotions this morning and came upon something in God’s law that I felt like I had to fix. How could God say this, I wondered, why would He allow the sin of His people Israel to get to the point of capital punishment?

The problem that I was considering was that a son would be put to death for disobeying his parents. The text in chapter 21 describes the law for sons guilty of disobedience to the parental honor commandment this way:

When a man has a stubborn son, a real rebel who won’t do a thing his mother and father tell him, and even though they discipline him he still won’t obey, his father and mother shall forcibly bring him before the leaders at the city gate and say to the city fathers, “This son of ours is a stubborn rebel; he won’t listen to a thing we say. He’s a glutton and a drunk.”

Then all the men of the town are to throw rocks at him until he’s dead. You will have purged the evil pollution from among you. All Israel will hear what’s happened and be in awe.

I must say that this is a lot to take in. But still, why do I sit here and squirm at what the Word of the Lord says about the consequences of sin? I frantically ask, How can this be right? How shall I think of God now? And why have I been treated with mercy when I have not listened or heeded my parents perfectly? I have had memorable seasons when rebellion has taken over my entire being — what am I now to think of this? What is God’s perspective on all this?

Sin and justice are no easy topics, but it is impossible for us to confront them without enabling the Word of God to bear down upon us. We are in bodies that have never known anything but sin, therefore, we need to turn to the counsels of God-who-has-already-been-in-the-flesh: Christ.

My reaction begs the question: Is it ever a good idea to have sin without punishment? And isn’t this what I am asking for — a weak approach to sin; ; less of an exposure of our need for Christ? It is either one or the other — we be exalted in our sin by God’s failure to bring us to justice, or God is exalted by His faithfulness to spare no expense in treating us according to the requirements of His righteousness.

Who is Jesus Christ anyway?

So Jesus is our Savior, but where does His power and authority to save us come from?

His power — yes the one thing in His personal profile that puts Him above every other holy man the world over — is in the fact that He is God’s choice; God’s specific means of saving us.

God looked on us in our sin and saw it as so definitive of our identity and nature that only He could do anything to save us from being who we are. He would send His only Son to work out in our midst the Father’s plan of salvation for us.

But, what did it mean for Him to be the Son of God? How is He different from us who also have the privilege of being called God’s children when we are reconciled to Father God through His Firstborn?

Well, for one thing, Jesus’ coming into the world was marked by the birth of a virgin. Mary carried the Savior of the world in her womb because the Holy Spirit (God) had enabled the physical conception of He who would be God in human form.

From the very beginning of Christ’s life on earth He was strikingly different than any man on earth. Yes, He was similar in visible form to His earthly companions, and yet there was so much of His composition that would not make sense to them unless they believed that He was at once the Son of God and God Himself.

This may sound like a peculiar thesis, but it is on this that the whole of Christianity hinges. Unless Jesus could be God and human simultaneously, He could not reconcile the two. These parties have been astranged because man’s sin can not be deleated and God’s glory cannot be compromised. If God accepted us on our own merits — with our sin — He would need to change His commands and become like we are in character to fellowship with us. This transformation would have done nothing good for either of us; after all, the predicament was not due to the fact God is not good, but that He is and we are in conflict with Him because we are evil.

Therefore, God had to do what would not alter His decree, but deliver us from the harshness of its punishment. The only way for us to be excused from serving our sentance was for it to be served by One who could give perfect righteousness to us in exchange for paying for us a debt He did not owe.

None would do that — none could do that — but Christ. Only He could boast the credentials necessary for a salvation proposition worthy of God’s divine consent. He was holy — it radiated from His whole identity: He glorified God in everything He did; He kept the law in every way, even when it came to the executing the Creator’s intent in His motivations; He knew God and had unbroken fellowship with Him; and He had power over the hearts of man — to declare to them the truth, convict them of their sin and save them from the penalty they deserved by offering divine forgiveness. Yet even in all these things that He did, He did not work to bring glory to Himself; He was faithful to His mission and the temporary limitations that it brought upon the revelation and exercise of His glory and majesty.

Though He was with God when He formed the earth and the world (as it says in John 1:1), He is also the reason all these things were formed. In Christ resides all the essence of God though He for His particular responsibility took on the fullness of mankind’s essence.

The second thing that distinguishes Christ in the eyes of God and the world is that He was sinless throughout the time that He was wrapped in the physical. The weakness of our fleshly bodies subjected Him to every sin that we are tempted and taken in by, but He was greater than the trap. Our mortal limitations were not His whole; He wrestled with sin because He was not under its power and it could have no claim over Him.

This sinless identity and legacy left no room for a barrier to exist between God the Father. In all things He was obedient; The Word (as He is called in John 1) was able to communicate God’s plea for faith to arrise within His people that they might accept His sacrifice on their behalf.

First we were sinners guilty of cursing God and incurring His just wrath, but how much more are we worthy of death if we should bear the guilt of an Innocent’s death rather than claiming it as our only hope before God?

If Christ is not the only thing that we have, then He is the condemnation against us in everything else we have. If I would offer an aliby it would discredit me in the eyes of the Judge; the only plea He will hear is Christ.

More clearly than anything else, Christ reveals the boundaries of God and man, but He also reveals what was the mystery of where they are meant to intersect.

God the Father, our Redeemer Christ, and the guilt of our consciences form the three-fold witness against each of us for our crimes. There is no reason that we should be released from death row except that One who knows our sins would bear them to the grave — putting all their power against us to death under Him.

Christ cannot be dismissed as a false witness on the part of His testimony of our sin. When He was tried to prove the legitimacy of what He testified, He told our end because of what we have done and announced that He would not let us go there without giving us access to His full pardon — a pardon He would offer at the cost of His own life. (God would know death for us so we could freely enjoy His eternal life).