The ultimate penalty of sin is death. However, God offers the gift of eternal life. God provides a way to remove the effects of sin that we have earned.
The Bible clearly tells us that the effects of sin—all sin that is not repented of—ultimately lead to death (Romans 6:23).
Notice Ezekiel 18:20: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
We each bear the effects of our own sin. We are only accountable for our own sin, but that is enough. We have all earned the penalty of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Jesus Christ gives us hope
Jesus Christ came with a purpose, and He offered a great hope for mankind. Notice His statement in John 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
So, although everyone sins and the effects of sin include death, that does not have to be the inevitable outcome for an individual.
The book of Acts sheds a little more light: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
There is a path leading away from death, and that begins with repentance.
When John the Baptist began his ministry in preparing the way for Jesus Christ, his message was one of repentance. It is necessary for us to repent—not just be sorry for sin, but also turn away from it.
Notice John’s message for the Jewish leaders of his day: “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance’” (Matthew 3:7-8).
The Pharisees and Sadducees had come only to observe, not to show the actions and resulting changes in their lives—the “fruit” of repentance.
Just as John the Baptist physically prepared the way for Christ by bringing a message of repentance, we must prepare ourselves spiritually by showing repentance and a willingness to turn from the sin in our lives. For more information about repentance, please see the articles in the section on “Repentance.”
A very important aspect to consider is that God’s grace leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). When we repent of our sins, are baptized and seek to change our direction in life, the sacrifice of Christ makes possible not only the forgiveness of our sins, but also the removal of the death penalty. The apostle Paul wrote that we are “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:12-13).
Christ made the supreme sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. This is not, however, a license for us to continue in sin!Christ made the supreme sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. This is not, however, a license for us to continue in sin! Notice Romans 6:15-16: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”
The gift of grace from Jesus Christ carries with it an expectation that we will continually turn from sin. For more information on the subject of grace, please see the articles in the “Grace” section.
After the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God told Adam what life for mankind would be like without obedience to God: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Without God in our lives, without the sacrifice of Christ, the inevitable cycle of life for mankind would be without hope and without expectation of life forevermore.
But the path leading to life is available to all of us through the forgiveness of our sin. Notice Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Mercy and forgiveness are available through repentance and baptism. God stands ready to give us the help we need! “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
So, what will it be—experience the ultimate effects of sin and pay the penalty of eternal death? Or repent of sin and live forever? The choice is yours!
Learn more in the article “How to Repent.”