Dead on Arrival (the ultimate “DOA”)
This was another issue that had always confused me: why is my violation of God’s law punishable by the penalty of death? One commonly accepted principle in any culture is that the values of a society determine the weight it places upon its laws. The more the values of a society are offended by the breaking of a particular law, the more severe the penalty for breaking that law. A traffic violation requires the payment of a fine. Robbery or theft requires a more severe penalty of time in jail or prison. Murder carries an even stiffer penalty. The more offensive the violation is deemed to be, the more severe the penalty or debt owed to society for the violation. The values of the society determine the severity of the penalty. Just as we owe a debt to society when we violate its laws, so we owe a moral debt to God when we violate His laws. Just as the values of a society dictate the severity of the penalty for breaking its laws, so God’s values dictate the severity of the penalty for violating His laws. The law most highly valued by God is the law that most accurately reflects His values: the moral law of a holy and righteous God. There is no higher law. There is no greater crime. Our violation of His moral law is a personal offense against Him. It is moral rebellion of the highest order. It is the ultimate crime, punishable by the ultimate penalty: eternal death .cite
Eternal death in the Bible means “spiritual separation from God.” The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”cite No one is an exception. The Bible also says, “”The wages of sin is death.”cite
A wage is something we earn for the work we have done; therefore, it is what we deserve. What all of us have earned—and therefore deserve—for our sin is death: spiritual separation from God. (See note F)
This may be offensive to us, but a God who is morally perfect must have righteousness (moral perfection) in His presence.cite Anything less is not compatible with who He is. None of us could sit down right now with one of the terrorists and feel morally compatible with him. We may push ourselves to try to understand the distorted logic behind what he did. We may even have pity on him because of his misguided loyalties.
Regardless, we would constantly be aware of how incompatible we are from a moral standpoint. Our moral incompatibility would provoke disharmony and discord. To put it mildly, we would not connect. We come from two completely different worlds. The terrorist has violated our moral values; we cannot remain true to ourselves and peacefully coexist with him.
This is infinitely more true of our relationship with God. His moral perfection is not of this world. It is foreign to us. We cannot fathom how morally incompatible we are with Him. Our moral incompatibility would do more than just provoke disharmony and discord. It would provoke His holy wrath. Unrighteousness cannot survive in His presence because it must be judged by Him. He must remain true to Himself. He is righteous and just. He loves us and desires that we have companionship (compatibility) and intimacy with Him. Yet, He cannot compromise His moral values for the sake of His love. His moral values cannot peacefully coexist with the one who has violated them.
We are spiritually separated from Him, but not because His heart is turned away from us. We cannot come into His presence because we are sinful and have no righteousness of our own. We have a place in His heart. He loves us deeply. We have no place in His presence. Our violation of His moral law has made a peaceful coexistence impossible. Our moral rebellion demands His judgment.
Unless the penalty of sin is dealt with sufficiently, we will continue to be separated from Him in this life and for eternity.(See note G) We are staggered by the severity of the penalty only because we do not understand the extent of His righteousness and the value He places upon His holy law. God’s values dictate the severity of the penalty. The price God chose to pay on our behalf reveals the severity in His eyes of the sin we have each committed. (It also reveals how much He loves us.)
The penalty is severe. The debt is too great to pay. I am not morally perfect and moral perfection is required. I am in a state of separation from Him—- spiritually dead—- because of my sin. I am condemned and bankrupt before Him with no hope in myself to remove this penalty of death (spiritual separation—now and forever) that lays heavily upon me.
Diagnosis— Dead (no hope in self)
If you’ve read this far, you are getting a picture of the horror of sinful man standing guilty before a holy God. A glimpse of this reality terrified my soul, but it was necessary to prepare my heart for the incredible gift of love He was getting ready to reveal to me. I had become aware of my predicament before Him. God is holy. I am not. I have violated His moral law straight from my heart. He is a righteous Judge who must judge my sin without partiality. He cannot compromise. He cannot be bribed. I am guilty. If there is any hope for the forgiveness of my debt, His justice demands the debt be paid in full.cite His moral character is so offended by my sin that the amount of debt I owe is beyond my comprehension (but not beyond His). If someone is going to deliver me, he must be able and willing to pay my debt for me. First, he must be able to pay my debt. If I am in debtors prison with everyone else (all have sinned), no one else can pay my debt for me.
Each man has the same debt of his own.cite Whoever pays my debt must have no debt of his own. Secondly, he must be willing to pay my debt for me. Therefore, he must have incredible love for me because the penalty of the debt I owe is death and he must be willing to die in my place.