GOD’S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SINNER.
Jehovah in the story evidently asked the man and woman a question, the answer to which he already knew, in order to give them an opportunity to confess their wrong-doing. Parents and teachers often seek to give the culprit the opportunity to confess his sin. What is the attitude of the law towards the criminal who pleads guilty? What is the reason for this attitude? A loving parent or even the state might forgive an unrepentant sinner, but the effect of the wrong-doing upon the sinner and upon others may still remain.
While the man and woman remained conscious of their wrong-doing, though defiant, to abide in Jehovah’s presence was for them intolerable. Are toil and pain essential to the moral development of sinners who refuse to confess their crime? Are toil and pain in themselves curses or blessings to those who have done wrong? The picture in Genesis 3 clearly implies that God’s intention was not that man should suffer but that he should enjoy perfect health and happiness. Jehovah’s preparation of the coats of skin for the man and woman is convincing evidence that his love and care continued unremittingly even for the wrong doers. Modern psychology is making it clear that the effect of sin upon the unrepentant sinner is to increase his inclination toward sinning. But when a man in penitence for his sin has turned toward God and changed his relation to his fellow men, God becomes to him a new Being with a nearness and intimacy impossible before! May the Christian believe that this new sense of nearness and love to God is met by a corresponding feeling on God’s part? In the light of Christian experience is there not every reason to believe that God himself also enters into a new and joyous relationship with the man? This thought was evidently in the mind of Jesus when be declared that there was joy in heaven over one sinner that repented.
THE EFFECT OF SIN UPON SOCIETY.
Men are often heard to remark that they are willing to bear the consequences of their sin. Is it possible for any individual to experience in himself the entire result of his wrong-doing? In the Genesis story the woman’s deliberate disobedience would seem to have had very direct influence upon her husband. Mankind has almost universally come to regard certain acts as wrong and to prescribe definite modes of punishment. Such decisions have come about not simply because of the effect of sin upon the individual but more especially because the sin of the individual affects society. State the different influences that deter men from sin and note those which from your experience seem the strongest.
Questions for Further Consideration.
Is an act that is wrong for one man necessarily a sin if committed by another? Are men’s tendencies to sin due to their inheritance or to impulses which they share in common with brutes, or to influences that come from their environment? In the light of this discussion formulate your own definition of sin.