Lastly, after spending two days on the origin of sin and the character of sin, today I’ll briefly discuss the punishment of sin. This is the result of sin in man. All this talk of guilt, pollution, corruption, depravity, and total and moral evil means little if God doesn’t take it seriously. Men may make light of it but God doesn’t, for He will punish all sin both in this life and in the life to come.
How? In 4 ways:
a) Spiritual Death
Our sinful nature is itself punishment for our sin. Sin is the great separator, separating man from man and more importantly, man from God. To be separated from God is a real kind of death, because only in communion with God can man really live. There is no life outside of Him (John 1:4-5 speak of the light inside of Christ being the life of men). So rather than going through life having a nature that always obeys, yearns for, and loves God we now (as a punishment from the fall) have a nature that rejects, runs from, and hates God. This is spiritual death.
b) Suffering in this Life
All suffering that takes place in this life is a result from and penalty of sin. Weakness, disease, distress, poverty, pain, sickness, sorrow, and everything other woe under the sun entered the world in Genesis 3 as a punishment for our sin. The true and lasting harmony of life has been ruined and wrecked so that we can never get past the fallen-ness of this present world. We feel this suffering in our souls, which no longer feels like paradise but a battleground. We feel this suffering with other men, rather than peace we have competition and strife. We feel this suffering in nature, rather than the ‘calm or cool of the day’ we see in Eden we experience destructive forces of nature like earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami’s, and floods. All of this suffering inside of us and outside of us is a punishment to us from the fall.
c) Physical Death
Adam, the first created man, would not have died if he had not sinned, but he did, and part of the wages of his sin was physical death. Romans 5 says in him all men fell as well, and so naturally we will one day face the wages of sin too in our own physical death. The soul was never meant to be separated from the body, but in physical death that is exactly what happens. Genesis 3:19, ‘For you are dust and to dust you shall return.’
d) Eternal Death
Lastly, and perhaps most sorrowfully, physical death is not the only death that comes into man’s existence as a punishment from the fall, eternal death comes too. For all those who reject the gospel in this life, will experience in full measure the fallen-ness they tasted on earth. Eternal death is the culmination of spiritual death. ‘The restraints fall away, and the corruption of sin has it’s full work. The full weight of the wrath of God descends on the condemned’ (Louis Berkhof). This condition of eternal death is the eternal corresponding form of their inward spiritual death. What this is like we’ll return to in our time in eschatology.