The Penalty for Sin - God is not the Author of Death

Posted Mar 12, 2017 by Adrian Ebens in Character of God Hits: 422

John 3:16 presents the love of God to us. God sends His Son to save us from death.

The problem is that if God is the one who ordered this penalty for sin then is not God rescuing us from His own decree? Is that not really a protection racket? If you do what I tell you, I won’t send my men around to harm you?

If God made death the decree for sin then doesn’t risking the life of His own Son to save us suggest that He Himself created the problem in the first place?

If God claims to be merciful then why can’t He just forgive those who do the wrong thing?

Exo 34:6  And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth…

When Lucifer rebelled against God was it possible for him to be forgiven for his wrong doing?

God in His great mercy bore long with Lucifer. He was not immediately degraded from his exalted station when he first indulged the spirit of discontent, not even when he began to present his false claims before the loyal angels. Long was he retained in heaven. Again and again he was offered pardon on condition of repentance and submission.—GC, 495, 496.

Was there any threat of death facing Lucifer when He was offered pardon? No. He was offered pardon simply on condition of repentance and submission.   

Was this offer only open to Lucifer because of his special position?

Many of Satan's sympathizers were inclined to heed the counsel of the loyal angels, and repent of their dissatisfaction, and be again received to the confidence of the Father and his dear Son. 1SP 20,21

Why didn’t the angels accept the grace and mercy of God?

The mighty revolter then declared that he was acquainted with God's law, and if he should submit to servile obedience, his honor would be taken from him. No more would he be intrusted with his exalted mission. He told them that himself and they also had now gone too far to go back, and he would brave the consequences; for to bow in servile worship to the Son of God he never would; that God would not forgive, and now they must assert their liberty and gain by force the position and authority which was not willingly accorded to them. 1SP 21

The reason why the angels who fell were not forgiven is that Satan convinced them that God would not forgive them and they had gone too far. Were there any angels who repented?

Satan exultingly pointed to his sympathizers, comprising nearly one half of all the angels, and exclaimed, These are with me! 1 SP 22

When Satan became disaffected in heaven, he did not lay his complaint before God and Christ; but he went among the angels who thought him perfect and represented that God had done him injustice in preferring Christ to himself. The result of this misrepresentation was that through their sympathy with him one third of the angels lost their innocence, their high estate, and their happy home.  {5T 291.1}   

The difference between nearly one half and one third of the angels who were with Satan obviously repented and submitted to God and were received openly by the Father and the Son. Did these angels have to be rescued from a death decree?

Satan was the one who stated that God would not forgive sin.

He [Satan] had declared that the principles of God's government make forgiveness impossible. DA 37.2

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God's favor. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner.  {DA 761.4} 

So why was it that Satan could not be saved?

But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan. Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God's glory. To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God's love. [762] Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. This choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him.{DA 761.5}  

Pardoning, redeeming love is brought to view in Christ Jesus. Satan had misrepresented the character of God, and it was necessary that a correct representation should be made to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men. Satan had declared that God knew nothing of self-denial, of mercy and love, but that he was stern, exacting, and unforgiving. Satan never tested the forgiving love of God; for he never exercised genuine repentance. His representations of God were incorrect; he was a false witness, an accuser of Christ, and an accuser of all those who throw off the Satanic yoke, and come back to render willing allegiance to the God of heaven.  {RH, March 9, 1897 par. 3}

Satan attributed to God a character that would not forgive. He refused to believe in the forgiveness of God. So there was nothing that God could do to save him. The unpardonable sin is the one that the sinner believes cannot be forgiven by God.

When Satan deceived mankind he taught them his view of God. He taught them that God would not forgive them and that every sin must be punished. This is the spirit that rules in the natural man.

It was generally believed by the Jews that sin is punished in this life. Every affliction was regarded as the penalty of some wrongdoing, either of the sufferer himself or of his parents. It is true that all suffering results from the transgression of God’s law, but this truth had become perverted. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God,—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin. Hence one upon whom some great affliction or calamity had fallen had the additional burden of being regarded as a great sinner. – {DA 471.1}

  1. Every affliction was regarded as the penalty of some wrong doing.
  2. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God,—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin

Does the whole Christian world believe that death is the punishment that God inflicts on the wicked on account of their sin?

If God uses His own force to take away the life of the sinner. This is an arbitrary act. It is not the law of cause and effect, it is the direct arbitrary intervention of God to punish sin with death.

But this is exactly what Satan has told the world! This is his belief system. Yet if God had instituted the penalty of death for sin before the foundation of the created universe then God is the author of death. Then He is the one who conceived the idea of killing those who disobey Him. But the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy say something else.

Heb 2:14  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 

Satan is the Author of Death FW 73

God did not create evil, He only made the good, which was like Himself. But Satan would not be content to know the will of God and do it. His curiosity was on the stretch to know that which God had not designed he should know. Evil, sin, and death were not created by God; they are the result of disobedience, which originated in Satan. 5T 503 {RH, August 4, 1910 par. 4} 

How is Satan the author of death? He introduced the idea that the law of God demands that sin must be punished and it cannot be forgiven. In separating God’s mercy from His justice hid the true character of God from the human race. He taught the human race that God does not forgive so don’t ask for forgiveness. What happened when God asked Adam about what happened?

Gen 3:9-12  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  (10)  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.  (11)  And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?  (12)  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

What about Cain?

And Cain said to the Lord, My wickedness is more than that I deserve forgiveness (for); Gen 4:13 - Wycliffe Bible

The Prodigal Son

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,  (19)  And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Luke 15:18-19 

The reason why sin leads to death is that mankind has inherited the lie that God will punish every sin and give the penalty of death to the transgressor.

Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God,—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin. DA 471.1

Man was no longer able to ask for forgiveness. Only Christ who knew the loving Character of the Father could bring this Spirit into the heart of man.

Acts 5:31  Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins

The ability to ask for forgiveness is evidence of the Spirit of Jesus in the heart.

But secondly Christ had to demonstrate the wages of sin and die as the sinner to reveal to the universe the end result of where sin leads. This was the only way to expose the lies of Satan. When Christ cried Father forgive them for they know not what they do and then died of a broken heart Satan was revealed as a murderer. Through Death Christ exposed Satan’s lies.

 Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ's brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken.  {DA 761.2} 

Now with these thoughts in mind I want to consider the following passage. As man naturally things of God punishing the wicked, the first half of the quote is a ministration of death. It seems to confirm what man things about God but then it reveals clearly how judgment takes place

God has given in His word decisive evidence that He will punish the transgressors of His law. Those who flatter themselves that He is too merciful to execute justice upon the sinner, have only to look to the cross of Calvary. The death of the spotless Son of God testifies that “the wages of sin is death,” that every violation of God’s law must receive its just retribution. Christ the sinless became sin for man. He bore the guilt of transgression, and the hiding of His Father’s face, until His heart was broken and His life crushed out. All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin. And every soul that refuses to become a partaker of the atonement provided at such a cost must bear in his own person the guilt and punishment of transgression. – {GC 539.3}

Compare this sequence to the steps in the story of the Canaanite woman.

Matt 15:22,23a Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.  But he answered her not a word.

God has given in His word decisive evidence that He will punish the transgressors of His law. GC 593.3

Matt 15:23b, 24And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

Those who flatter themselves that He is too merciful to execute justice upon the sinner, have only to look to the cross of Calvary. GC 593.3

Mat 15:25-26  Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.  (26)  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

The death of the spotless Son of God testifies that “the wages of sin is death,” that every violation of God’s law must receive its just retribution. GC 593.3

Mat 15:27-28  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.  (28)  Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Christ the sinless became sin for man. He bore the guilt of transgression, and the hiding of His Father’s face, until His heart was broken and His life crushed out. All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin. {GC 539.3}

 

Conclusion

Sin is the transgression of the law 1 John 3:4.

The law is a transcript of God’s Character. COL 305.

Therefore sin is the changing of God’s character in the human mind that prevents a belief in or desire for forgiveness. The wages of such thinking leads to death.

Through accepting Satan’s principles of judgment, man cut himself off from God’s mercy. He believed that every sin must be punished without mercy and so did not ask for it

Only the Spirit of Christ in the soul has the ability to ask for forgiveness and this is what saves us. Acts 5:31; Gal 4:6

Christ took the death of the cross to reveal the murderous character of Satan and thus break the bond of sympathy the angels had with him.

God did not make death the penalty for sin by an arbitrary decision. Death is the wages or product of sin. It is natural consequence for wrong thinking about the character of God.