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Sin and Salvation

Updated: Mar 6

Sin and Salvation

-Dr Rosemary Varghese

But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it              

Genesis 4:7


We are well into the Lenten season, a time when the Catholic commitment to a deeper communion with God is usually seen in the rising numbers of laity queuing up at the confessional and attending daily church services. On the surface, the trend remains unchanged, but, in reality, the world we live in is in dire spiritual distress. On the global platform, two raging wars have devastated regions that once bustled with life. Terrorism has established its ugly domain across the world, fueled by hatred and communalism. On the social front, liberty is the latest catch-phrase around which a new social milieu is being carefully built and branded. Children and young adults are the target market. Trans movements and pro-choice groups push a satanic scheme that will ultimately annihilate the concept of family that God the Father envisaged for mankind. Satan’s ever-expanding workforce is focused, active and influential in the world today. Their evil schemes are attractively packaged but are destined to bring damnation and God’s severe punishment to those who fall prey to them.   

 The prophetic overtones of St Paul’s description of the godless and the wicked are unmistakable, especially in the context of the present era. Romans 1 presents a step-by-step characterization that points clearly to the leaders and influencers of today’s world. These people never glorify or give thanks to God although they know Him. They exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than the Creator and are now filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. St Paul’s three-pronged conclusion is significant –Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them-Romans1:28. In summary, St Paul warns us of sin, its spreading influence, and God’s judgement.

 However, the path of repentance and redemption has been thrown open to those who put their trust in the infinite grace and mercy of God. Our heavenly Father has travelled with us from the beginning of time, exposing us to His judgement, showing us the path of repentance, and then finally delivering us from the bondage of sin and spiritual death through the crucifixion of Christ His Son.

This eventful journey takes us across two eras of human existence recorded in the Old and New Testament. It begins with the ancient serpent, symbolizing Satan and his constant effort to wean away mankind from God’s loving fold. If we observe the events closely, we can detect a pattern in the action. Eve was the first to fall victim to the promise of power and liberty extended by the serpent. She successfully influenced Adam. God’s judgement was swift. Our first parents were banished from Paradise as a punishment for their sin of disobedience. Here we witness the first period of God’s relation with mankind, where sin and its spreading influence leads to God’s judgement and spiritual damnation for all mankind.

 The next milestone was when Moses was appointed by God to liberate His people from the oppression of slavery in Egypt and take them to the Promised Land.  On Mount Sinai Moses stood in God’s presence to receive the Ten Commandments, which would remain forever as God’s prescription to free mankind from the shackles of sin. But the common people failed in their faith and faced several punishments during their 40 -year desert experience. Significant among these is the incident when the Israelites were fatally bitten by poisonous snakes, and on their plea for mercy, Moses was instructed by God to attach a bronze snake to a pole and fix it for all to see. God the Father decreed that all those who looked at it would be saved from death (Numbers 21:4-9).

Here we see a divergence from the sin-punishment pattern. The concept of  repentance as a means to come back to life with God is introduced by a loving Father. The bronze snake was symbolic of the evil that had entered human life after the first sin of disobedience. When the poison of habitual sin struck the Israelites, they looked at the snake on the pole and acknowledged their trespasses and turned back to God. A powerful channel of return to God’s grace was created here for all mankind— one that was proclaimed by the prophets in the Old Testament and by John the Baptist in the desert. Subsequently, Jesus taught the people valuable lessons in repentance, and its acceptance in God’s sight, through parables like the story of the prodigal son. It was one of the main themes carried forward by the apostles after the resurrection as recorded in the Acts.

There was still one crowning act of mercy that God had planned for humankind—one that would ultimately free them from the shackles of original sin and eternal death. The third and final stage was the crucifixion of the sacrificial lamb, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This entailed that Jesus would come down to earth and carry the burden of our sins on Himself.  He was given the most cruel punishment of that era. He died on the cross in atonement for our sins.  Worse still, this sin-laden Son of God lost His connection with His divine Father and His original state of godliness on the cross. A pain-filled cry from the cross was the only expression of distress that escaped from Jesus as He gave up His life—My God My God Why have you forsaken me. Jesus died, His body nailed to the cross. The ransom to free man from eternal death was paid in full.  He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, but His wounded body on the cross stands before us as a reminder of our sins and the price He paid. We acknowledge this in repentance whenever we venerate the cross. Jesus himself explains the connection of His death on the cross with the bronze serpent in the desert— Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him (John 3:14-15).

Having sent His only begotten Son to pay the heavy price of a redemptive sacrifice on the cross, God our Father has accompanied us this far. He has brought us out from banishment, shown us the path of repentance, and saved us from sin and death through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.   Eternal life in Christ is available to all who seek the Lord and believe in His Word.

From here the journey goes on to the Day of Judgement. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2Cor 5:10). Our reflections during this Lenten season must be on this journey with God, a journey that started with our first parents and will take us to our day of judgement.

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