Our failure to obey God – to be holy – places us in danger of eternal punishment.
2 Thessalonians 1:9 (NASB)
9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God.
Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB)
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “for there is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In addition, we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
That does not mean we are incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. However, we are utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own.
Romans 3:10-12 (NASB)
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous , not even one; 11 There is none who understands , There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside , together they have become useless ; There is none who does good , There is not even one.”
God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That is hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others are. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That is why simply changing our patterns of behavior cannot solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy.
Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ…died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).