God is willing to forgive sins.

Everyone sins and needs forgiveness.

A sin is a violation of God’s law.1 In the worldview of the Bible, all people commit sins. Yet, God offers forgiveness to all who repent and accept His grace. “There is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Romans 3:22b-25).

Atheists deny that sin exists!

Get rid of God and there is no law of God to violate! Atheism can be an attempt to escape God’s judgment.

When travelling by train from Berlin to Utrecht in 1966, I spoke with a young woman who said she was much happier since becoming an atheist because she no longer had to feel guilty! Several young people I know, raised by believing parents, embraced atheism when they adopted an immoral lifestyle.

Perhaps it is not so much that atheists are immoral as that immoral people reject God!

In Psalm 36:1 the transgression of the wicked is explained thus: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” By definition, an atheist cannot be a God-fearing person.

A God-fearing person is someone who, because of his respect for God’s judgment, strives to please God.

An atheist can be moral, if he lives according to the sense of right and wrong that God has placed in his heart.2 And many who believe in God are immoral because they do not live according to their faith!

In the worldview of the Bible, it is not enough just to “believe in” God. One must live according to that faith: “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).3

In Romans, Paul emphasizes that everyone sins,4 everyone violates the law of God. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Jesus says that everyone must repent (Luke 13:5). An atheist must repent to become a believer. A believer must repent to live according to his faith. Atheists and believers alike must repent and accept the redemption that God offers through the sacrifice of His Son. “Repent, and believe in the gospel!” (Mark 1:15).

Man’s sinfulness is exposed.

From Genesis to Revelation, man’s sinfulness is condemned. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16:8). God’s word is like a mirror (James 1:23) that shows us our sins in all their ugliness.

How did sin enter the world? What are the consequences of sin? Whose fault is sin? What is the remedy for sin? These questions are answered in the Scriptures.

How did sin enter the world?

In the beginning there was no sin. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Sin entered the world through Adam: “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

We learn much from the first sin. Eve knew precisely what God had said: “Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Genesis 3:3). She explained this to the serpent.

But he contradicted God: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4) and he even impugned God’s motives. According to him, God just wanted to keep them ignorant.

Who is this serpent? “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Satan encourages man to sin by lying to him. Notice that the serpent did not force Eve to disobey God. He just suggested that it would be to her advantage.

We also notice that God allows Satan to tempt man. Man’s faith and love for God are tested.

Eve still has a choice. Who will she believe, God or a snake? She allows herself to be deceived and disobeys God. “The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

A thought process was involved. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6).

James describes this process: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). The lies of Satan aroused rebellious desires in the heart of Eve.

What is the origin of this serpent?

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (Genesis 3:1). All that God made was good (Genesis 1:31), thus serpents as well. The serpents we know, do not speak, and in the Bible we never again read of a serpent speaking, but we do read of the devil speaking. Satan spoke to Eve as a serpent. He usually comes to us in disguise. “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

The devil has “sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He is the tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), the adversary (1 Peter 5:8) and the accuser of the faithful (Revelation 12:10). He is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The Archangel Michael and his angels wage war against the devil and his angels (Revelation 12:7-9). Satan is one of the angels who sinned as referred to in 2 Peter 2:4 “who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode” (Jude 6).

Thus, like man, Satan was created good. Also like man, he was given the power of choice, which he misused to rebel against God. Angels and men have sinned.

What are the consequences of sin?

After Adam and Eve sinned they were afraid and “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (Genesis 3:8-10). Sin alienated them from God.

Man was evicted from the beautiful garden where all his needs were provided and where he lived in close fellowship with God: “The LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken” (Genesis 3:23). After a life of pain and toil he would die, returning to the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 3:17-19).

Angels who sinned have been committed to “chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4 // Jude 6). At the judgment, the devil and his cohorts will be “cast into the lake of fire” and “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

At the judgment, sinful men (unless their names are “found written in the book of life”) will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), they “will go away into eternal punishment,” “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:46, 41).

Whose fault is sin?

Sinners often try to evade responsibility for their sins.

Some blame God by saying, “God should have made me unable to sin!”

Although God made man capable of sinning, He also provided a remedy for sin! God gave man an independent spirit so he could love God by choice. Man can decide to love or to reject God, and is responsible for his choice. God even gives man a second chance by providing a remedy for sin. Someone who has sinned against God and also refuses to accept God’s forgiveness, cannot blame God for his sin!

When God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” he replied, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:11, 12). Adam tried to transfer at least some of the blame for his sin to his wife, and maybe even to God. Yet, that God gave him a wife and that his wife gave him the fruit, did not lessen his responsibility for his own disobedience. God told Adam, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17).

Each person must answer to God for his own sin, even though he is tempted by someone else. Our own sin is our own fault! It is not God’s fault or the fault of someone who tempted us.

When God asked Eve, “What is this you have done?” she replied, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). How reasonable is that? “Lord, I believed a snake instead of You.” Yet, as unreasonable as it is, that is what mankind has been doing ever since: believing the lies of the snake rather than the word of God. And because people put their faith in the snake, Satan is called “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9).

From this we learn that we must give account to God for our own sin, even if we have been tempted and deceived by Satan. We cannot blame Satan for our sin. Our own sin is our own fault! We are responsible for what we do.

Whose fault was Cain’s sin? We also learn much about sin from this sad occurrence.

Some people try to blame Adam for their sin. Why did Cain kill Abel? Did he do it because of Adam’s sin or because of his own sin? If it was because of Adam’s sin, why was Cain not killed by Abel? Or why did they not murder each other? They both were sons of Adam.

Can sin be inherited? Or is sin something one does.

John tells us why Cain killed Abel. We should not be like “Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12). “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts” (Hebrews 11:4). Jude speaks of certain evil people who “have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11).

Abel’s deeds were righteous. He was a man of faith. He was a prophet of God (Luke 11:50, 51). “And the LORD respected Abel and his offering” (Genesis 4:4). Notice that God respected, not only the offering, but Abel himself.

What was “the way of Cain”? He “was of the wicked one,” “his works were evil.” God “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Genesis 4:5).

Why the difference? They were both sons of Adam.

The first time the word “sin” is found in the Bible is when God warns Cain: “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6, 7). Although God rejected Cain, he could still be accepted if he repented and did what was right!

This passage proves that the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election is not true. Otherwise this warning would be senseless. Cain could decide to do good. He was commanded to rule over sin but he did not listen to God.

Our sins are our own fault. We cannot blame Adam for our sin.

“Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). This passage does not say that sin spread to all men because Adam sinned. It says that death spread to all men because all sinned.

God holds people accountable for their own sins, not for the sins of their parents: “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). “Everyone shall die for his own iniquity” (Jeremiah 31:30).

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). In the last book of the Bible, Jesus tells us, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

We are responsible for our own sin, and may not attempt to blame those who tempt us, Satan, Adam or God for our sins.

What is God’s remedy for sin?

Although we have sinned, there is hope if we are sorry and repent. God assures us: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).

“The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). His vicarious sacrifice on the cross for our sins is the remedy God has provided to those who believe in Him.

After dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, He rose from the grave, victorious over death. Then He commanded His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel [the good news] to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

What have we learned?
- Everyone sins and needs forgiveness.
- God is willing to forgive those who repent.
- Atheists sin whether they believe it or not.
- The Bible exposes man’s sinfulness.
- Sin separates man from God.
- Each one is responsible for his own sins.
- The sacrifice of Christ is God’s remedy for sin.

What does God want us to do?

The reply Peter gave to distraught sinners still applies: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38, 39).

"Be saved from this perverse generation" (Acts 2:40). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.

Endnotes:

1 A sin violates God’s will. A crime is a serious violation of governmental law with a severe punishment. A misdemeanor is a minor violation of governmental law with a minor punishment. Misconduct is behavior not conforming to the norms of society. Incorrectness is a lack of conformity to social expectations. Many crimes and misdemeanors are also sins against God.
2 See Romans 2:14.
3 See also Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38.
4 Read Romans, chapter three.