Why is it necessary for God to die for our sins?

by Matt Slick

Muslims often ask why it is necessary for God to die for man's sins.  Why can't we just confess our sins and have God forgive us?  Isn't that enough?

The following is an attempt to logically demonstrate the necessity of God atoning for our sins.

  1. God is infinite.
    1. There is no limit to Him.  He is endless.
      1. 1 Kings 8:27, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!"
      2. Jeremiah 23:23–24, "Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? 24 “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD."
  2. God is holy.
    1. Holiness is purity.  God is incapable of doing anything wrong.  Part of the quality of holiness is the inability to do wrong.
      1. Leviticus 11:44–45, "For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 45 ‘For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’ ”"
      2. 1 Peter 1:16, "because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”"
  3. God is just.
    1. He always does what is right.
    2. God cannot violate His own righteous declarations because that would mean God is contradicting Himself.
    3. This justice is according to His nature since it is He who tells us what is right and wrong.
      1. Romans 3:4, "May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.”"
      2. Titus 1:2, "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,"
      3. 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."
  4. Therefore, God is infinitely holy and infinitely just.
    1. Neither His holiness nor justice can be denied since they are part of His character and God cannot be denied.
  5. We are not infinite and not holy.
    1. We are not infinite because we are creations.
    2. We are not holy because we have sinned.
      1. Isaiah 64:6, "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."
      2. Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it?"
      3. Ephesians 2:3, "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."
  6. Sin is doing anything against God's Law.
    1. It is God who declares what is right and wrong.  He has revealed this to us in the scriptures.
      1. Romans 4:15, "for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation."
      2. 1 John 3:4, "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness."
  7. The Law is a reflection of God's character.
    1. God speaks out of what is in His mind and heart.  If He says do not lie, it is because it is against God's nature to lie.
    2. God is not speaking without reason or purpose.  If He had no reason or purpose, this would mean that God is not trustworthy.
    3. God is trustworthy; therefore, God's Law is the standard of perfection, justice, and holiness.
      1. Matthew 12:34, "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart."
      2. 1 Peter 1:16, "because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”"
      3. Exodus 20:1–8, " Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."
  8. God's Law carries a penalty upon the sinner which is damnation.
    1. Damnation is the act of God where He passes righteous judgment upon a person because of the person's sin against Him.
    2. If breaking God's law did not carry a penalty, then there would be no damnation.  But since there is damnation, we can conclude that breaking God's law carries a penalty.
    3. If He did not damn based upon righteousness, then God is doing wrong.  Since God cannot do anything wrong, then damnation is righteous.
      1. Romans 6:16, " Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"
      2. Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
      3. Isaiah 59:2, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."
  9. God is affected by what we do.
    1. Proof of this is found in our prayers.  Since God answers our prayers, our prayers have an affect upon God because God is moved to answer.
    2. If our prayers have no affect upon God, then prayer is useless since it accomplishes nothing.
      1. James 5:16, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
      2. Isaiah 38:1–5, "In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ ” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, 5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life."
  10. Breaking God's Law, sinning, has a negative effect upon our relationship with God.
    1. God is not injured in a physical way by our sins since God is spirit, perfect, and complete.
    2. But, since damnation exists (because of the justice of God), we can conclude that sin has a negative affect upon the relationship between the sinner and God.  If this were not so, there would be no damnation.
      1. Isaiah 1:15, "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood."
      2. Isaiah 59:2, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."
  11. Since God is infinite, our offense against Him has an infinite effect.
    1. It is the infinite God we have offended; therefore, the sin results in an infinite offense against God.
      1. Revelation 14:11, "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
      2. Revelation 20:10, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."
  12. A finite person cannot remove an infinite offense against an infinite God.  
    1. A finite work cannot remove an infinite offense because the effort of a finite person will always fall short of meeting the justice of an infinite God.
      1. Galatians 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
      2. Galatians 3:21, "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law."
  13. God cannot arbitrarily forgive the sinner without satisfying His infinite justice.
    1. If damnation is righteously given because of justice, so, too, forgiveness must be in accordance with justice because both are dealing with sin.
    2. To simply dismiss sin in order to forgive is to deny justice.
    3. If forgiveness is not consistent with God's justice, then God is arbitrary, inconsistent, and unjust.
    4. Therefore, the act of forgiveness also requires an act of justice.
      1. Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’"
      2. Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"
      3. Romans 8:3–4, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
  14. Since it is just that the sinner die and be damned, this justice cannot be ignored.
    1. If it were ignored, then God is not being consistent in His justice.
    2. If it were ignored, then God has no right to damn anyone.
    3. No one is damned who is alive.  Only the dead are damned.
      1. Luke 18:7, "now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?"
      2. Titus 1:2, "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,"
      3. 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."
  15. Since man cannot earn forgiveness from God through his finite works, it must be God who makes forgiveness possible.
    1. This is so because there is no one left to make things right - other than God.
      1. Luke 18:27, "But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”"
      2. Romans 3:20, "because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin."
      3. Galatians 2:16, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified."
      4. Galatians 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
  16. Since it is not just to ignore the penalty for sin and since man cannot satisfy God, there is none left but God to pay for the just penalty of sin.
    1. The sin cannot be ignored because the act of forgiveness also requires and act of justice.
    2. This justice cannot be ignored because God would then be inconsistent.
      1. Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’"
      2. Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"
      3. Romans 8:3–4, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
  17. It is just that the sinner die and suffer judgment.
    1. Death is a punishment of God, and damnation follows death.
      1. Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
      2. Isaiah 59:2, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."
  18. Since it is just that sin must be dealt with, God must meet that requirement of justice.
    1. This is so because a finite person cannot please an infinite God's just requirements of holiness and purity.
    2. God must then do what is just in forgiveness of sins--or justice cannot be met.
      1. Galatians 4:4, "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,"
      2. 1 Peter 2:21–22, "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;"
      3. Romans 8:3, "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,"
  19. God must then take the place of the sinner and suffer the consequence of the lawful judgment of death upon the sinner.
    1. John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
    2. John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
    3. Colossians 2:9, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,"
    4. Isaiah 53:4–5, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed."
    5. 1 Peter 2:24, " and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
  20. With justice met, forgiveness can then be rightly given.
    1. Romans 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."
    2. Ephesians 1:7, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace"
  21. This forgiveness, which cannot be earned by man's effort, can only be received from God by man's faith - because there is nothing else he can do.
    1. Romans 3:28, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."
    2. Romans 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."
    3. Romans 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
    4. Ephesians 2:8–9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

 

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.