By Wes Faulk
For the wages of sin is death.
Most of my life I have grown up knowing that sin brings death. It is ingrained into any Southern Baptist child, “for the wages of sin is death.” Your admittance of your eternal death is the first step in understanding the need you have for salvation in Jesus Christ.
In the midst of the genuine crisis that COVID-19 has brought forward, many have grappled to understand how the Christian worldview explains world altering pandemics. In truth, the modern always happy version of our faith has little to offer a world paralyzed by death. The corona virus has surprised and awakened in us the understanding that we are vulnerable, mortal creatures.
Perhaps it is time to renew our understanding of what scripture teaches in regards to suffering, pandemic, and death in this world.
Take a step back with me all the way to the Garden of Eden. When God created the world, he created it perfect, eternal, and good. Adam, Eve, and creation lived perfectly in a perfect world. I don’t know the time frame, but within three chapters of God’s creation, we as people grew unsatisfied with the goodness of God’s creation and rebelled against God by eating from the one tree God forbade.
At this point, we began to understand the world as we know it today. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, he brought punishment to them. They were expelled from paradise and lost their immortal status. Adam, Eve, and the world fell under the curse of death. When we say “the wages of sin is death,” there is much more to it than the oversimplified version we know about eternity. The full wages of sin have brought death to our world. Our world quakes with death, longing to be made new.
Romans 5:12 states “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.”
Romans 5:20-21 states “For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.”
Can you see it? Can you see how the world we live in is ruled by death? The coronavirus is just one effect of the complete brokenness of a world under the curse of sin and death. No amount of human ingenuity or work can free us from the curse. As long as we live in a world of death, we will see our world quake as it does with the coronavirus.
There is hopelessness here. If there is nothing we can do to fix this world, what hope do we have? Our hope is in the architect restoring our world to the way he intended it. Our world of death will die, and God will recreate it perfectly.
God has been working ever since the world broke to restore it. There is a problem if God simply recreated the world, i.e. hit the reset button, after Adam and Eve sinned. Adam and Eve by their own actions fell under the curse; therefore they could not inhabit the new world. God would have had to annihilate all that he created. Justice needed to be served for the crimes committed against God.
The story of scripture is the story of how God intervened in the world of death for humans so that they could be freed from the curse of death and get the gift of inheriting the new world of life God was creating. In the Garden of Eden, God killed an animal to show what was necessary for Adam and Eve not to face eternal punishment. A sacrifice needed to be made for them.
The Old Testament is story after story of God weaving the lives of broken humans together for the good. It is the story of God bringing the fullness of time together so that he, God, could become a human being, live the perfect life, die the perfect death, and then conquer death. In this, God would satisfy the justice we deserve and defeat the curse of death on this world. Jesus took our curse and death so that we could have immortality and life.
Walking through the coronavirus at Easter brings a stark contrast right in front of our eyes. The coronavirus makes it real that we still live in a world of death. Easter screams into this world of death that it will not reign because Jesus Christ conquered death, satisfied the justice we deserved, and gave us his righteousness so that we could inherit God’s perfect new world of life.
To obtain God’s forgiveness, righteousness, and future place in God’s recreated Eden, you must take the step of faith. It is trusting that Jesus is God, that he actually accomplished on the cross and in the resurrection what the Bible says, and place yourself under God’s perfect authority.
We are in a time of waiting. God is being patient with us so that as many people as possible can turn to him and find life in this world of death. Any person who does not turn by faith to God will not inherit the perfect world God is creating but instead will inherit the punishment they deserve for their own sins. Any person who does turn to Christ will be forgiven, made new, and one day resurrected in the new world God has for us.
Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Today, in the midst of the death that the coronavirus brings so vividly in front of our eyes, look forward to the day when God finishes what he started. God is going to make all things new. One day, God will judge this world. He will dissolve this world where things like the coronavirus reign.
Looking forward to that day, we look through the destruction of our world of death knowing God is birthing a new world of life, Eden, for us. Death may reign today, but death will have its day of judgment. One day we will not know death, disease, or pain as God will recreate this world and resurrect us into new life.
1 Peter 2:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming. Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
Wes Faulk is pastor of First Baptist Church in Vidalia. This editorial first appeared on his blog.