Bible Truth Examiner

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STUDY 2: THE WAGES OF SIN

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6: 23).

 

THE teaching of “Orthodoxy” that the wages of sin is eternal torment is contradicted by the

above words of inspiration, and numerous other Scriptures, as well as by reason. It is also in

opposition to the Plan and Character of God as presented in His Word.

 

The eternal torment theory had a heathen origin, which gradually attached itself to nominal

Christianity in the second century. Eventually the great apostasy added the horrible details that

so many Christians still believe. But eternal torment as the penalty for sin was unknown to the

patriarchs of past ages, the prophets of the Jewish Age, our Lord and the Apostles. Eternal

torment was used to keep the superstitious masses in bondage to the authority of Rome, and in

ignorance of God’s real Plan. Tormented with a fear of eternal misery, the masses became

blinded to both reason and the Word of God (Isaiah 29: 13).

 

The Old Testament prophets mention nothing about eternal torment, but they repeatedly mention

destruction as the sinner’s fate, and declare continually that the enemies of the Lord shall perish.

The Law given to Israel through Moses never hinted at any other penalty than death, in case of

its violation. The warning given to Adam when placed on trial in Eden did not contain the

remotest suggestion of eternal torture in case of disobedience. On the contrary, it clearly stated

that the penalty would be death – “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"

(Genesis 2: 17). Compare 2 Peter 3: 8.

 

If the penalty of disobedience is everlasting life in torment, an inexcusable wrong was

committed against Adam, the patriarchs and the Jewish people when they were misinformed on

the subject and told that death was the penalty. Surely if they were ever to find themselves in

eternal torment they would have sufficient grounds for an appeal for JUSTICE. And the billions

who died without knowledge and faith would also have just ground for cursing the injustice of

such a penalty – first, by bringing them into a trial subject to so awful and unreasonable a

penalty without their consent; and secondly, for leaving the one class completely ignorant of

such a penalty, and for misleading the others by telling them that the penalty of sin would be

death, perishing.

 

Turning to the New Testament, St. Paul says that he did not shun to declare the whole counsel of

God (Acts 20: 27), yet he did not write a single word about eternal torment. Neither did the

Apostles Matthew, Peter, James, Jude or John. Some claim that St. John taught eternal torment in

the symbols of Revelation, but that book is not to be interpreted literally, in violation of its stated

symbolic character, and in direct opposition to the remainder of the Bible.

 

The True Penalty of Sin

 

The Apostles never mention eternal torment as sin’s penalty, but they do state its true penalty

numerous times. The Apostle Paul states: “The wages of sin is death”; the disobedient “shall be

punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his

power”; and “many walk . . . that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is

destruction” (Romans 6: 23) (2 Thessalonians 1: 9) (Philippians 3: 18, 19).

 

The Apostle John says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the

beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of

the devil. . . . He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a

murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. . . . He that hath the

Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 3: 8, 14, 15)

(1 John 5: 12).

 

The Apostle Peter says that the disobedient “shall be destroyed from among the people”; that

evil-doers “bring upon themselves swift destruction”; and that the Lord is not desiring “that any

should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (Acts 3: 23) (2 Peter 2: 1; 3: 9).

 

The Apostle James says, “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” “There is one lawgiver,

who is able to save and to destroy” (James 1: 15) (James 4: 12).

 

Understood from God’s standpoint, the penalty for sin is neither too slight nor too severe. The

gift or favor of God – “eternal life,” – was given to Adam and through him to his posterity upon

the condition that it be used properly – to glorify God in their well-being and well-doing, and not

to dishonor Him by rebellion and sin. As the Creator, God reserves the right and the power to

destroy that which He considers unworthy of continuous existence; so when man sinned, God

simply withdrew the favor He had granted, which had been misused, and death (destruction)

followed, preceded by the dying process – pain, sickness and mental, moral and physical decay.

 

Redemption the Result of Divine Mercy

 

Had God not provided redemption through Christ, the death penalty which came upon our race

in Adam would have been everlasting, but in Divine mercy all have been redeemed from death.

Yet all must individually come under the same Divine Law again, which does not change,

namely, that “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ

our Lord” (Romans 6: 23).

 

Our Lord Jesus never used the expression eternal torment or ever hinted that He came into the

world to save men from eternal torment. If eternal torment is the penalty for sin, it would have

been neither just nor merciful for Him to have kept back such an important truth. On the

contrary, He told them that He came to save them from death. None could hope for a resurrection

to a future life unless Christ should redeem them from all that was lost in Adam, including death,

and grant them instead righteousness, everlasting life and favor. Our Lord’s title, Savior, is

significant – it does not imply a deliverer or savior from torment, but a Savior from death. Our

Lord and the Apostles used the language of the Samaritans, and in that tongue the word for

Savior means Life-Giver.

 

Our Lord said that He came “to proclaim liberty to the captives” – the captives of sin and the

great prison-house, the tomb (Isaiah 61: 1; Luke 4: 18). He declared that He came that mankind

“might have life”; that He came “to give his life a ransom for many” lives, in order that by

believing in Him men “should not perish, but have everlasting life”; and again “narrow is the

way, which leadeth unto life” and “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” (John 10: 10)

(Matthew 20: 28) (John 3: 16) (Matthew 7: 13, 14).

 

Christians generally admit that our Lord redeemed mankind by His death, that He willingly

endured the penalty of man’s sins in order that man might be released from that penalty. But if

the penalty for our sins is eternal torment, then Jesus would be suffering eternal torment for us;

however, the Scriptures teach that our Lord is now in glory, and not in torment, which is positive

proof that the wages of sin is not torment.

 

On the contrary, the Scriptures repeatedly and explicitly declare that Christ died for our sins; that

He gave His life a Ransom to secure life for the condemned sinners; that He bought us with His

own precious blood; that for this purpose the Son of God was manifest in the flesh; that He

might give His flesh for the life of the world; that as “by man (Adam) came death, by man (“the

Man Christ Jesus”)” might come “the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15: 3)

(Matthew 20: 28) (1 Timothy 2: 5, 6) (Hosea 13: 14) (1 Corinthians 6: 20) (1 Peter 1: 18, 19)

(1 John 3: 8) (John 6: 51) (1 Corinthians 15: 21).

 

The foregoing Scriptural proofs give clear evidence that “the wages of sin is death” and that the

heathenish dogma of eternal torment is both unscriptural and unreasonable.

 

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