Question: "What are the consequences of sin?"
Answer: The ultimate—and severest—consequence of sin is death. The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This not only refers to physical death, but to eternal separation from God: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). This is the foremost consequence of man’s rebellion against God.
Yet many want to believe that God is so “loving” that He will overlook our “little faults,” “lapses” and “indiscretions.” Little white lies, cheating on the tax return, taking that pen when no one is looking, or secretly viewing pornography—these are peccadillos, not worthy of death, right? The problem is, sin is sin, big or small. Though God loves us, His holiness is such that He cannot live with evil. The prophet Habakkuk describes God this way: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). God does not ignore our sin. On the contrary, “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Even those secret sins we hide in the recesses of our hearts will one day be brought to light: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
Paul made it abundantly clear that sin has consequences: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Paul then describes the end of those who indulge in sinful behavior: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:8). The phrase “sinful nature” refers to one’s unregenerate, shameless self. Though the sin nature may promise fulfillment, it can result in nothing but “destruction.”
Paul told the believers in Galatia that “the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other . . .” (Galatians 5:17). Then he lists the sordid works of the sin nature and specifies the ultimate consequence of such behavior: “Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (see Galatians 5:19-21). Those who live in debauchery and sin sow the seeds of destruction in their present-day life and forfeit any hope of eternal life.
The Bible describes those who choose to indulge in sin as being “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:18-19). One of the consequences of sin, therefore, is more sin. There’s an insatiable “lust for more,” attended by a dulling of the conscience and a blindness to spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The consequence of suppressing the truth is that God gives the sinner over to “the sinful desires of their hearts,” “shameful lusts” and “a depraved mind” (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). This means that God may allow the sinner to serve as his own god and to reap the destruction of his body and soul. It is a fearful thing to be “given over” to our own destructive ways.
God has made it clear that “the soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4, NASB). Those who habitually live their lives outside of Christ, yet whose hearts have been convicted by the gospel of Christ, should follow the example of the first converts of the church: “They were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” The answer was simple yet profound: “Repent!” (Acts 2:37-38).
Jesus’ first words when He began His ministry were, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). What is the good news? “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The consequence of sin is death, but “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).