How well do you know God? Has it ever occurred to you why we are able to know the depths of God’s character?
We all have people we know better than others. We know them better because we spend more time with them, interface with them more than others, and feel a closeness to them. In the case of our Lord Jesus, the more time we spend in communication with him, the more meaningful time in his word and contemplating his truth, the better we get to know him. But I submit that our knowledge of God’s goodness and character would be severely limited if not for one terrible thing.
Allow this to roll around in your head for a while. Had it not been for sin we would know and understand far less about God’s character than we do right now. When I say “know,” I’m referring to knowing God experientially. It’s one thing to know God theoretically or intellectually, but experience is a different matter altogether.
Without sin we would not know about God’s forgiveness. Without sin there would be no need to express forgiveness to anyone. Forgiveness, both giving it and receiving it is a wonderful experience.
Without sin we would not know about God’s grace and mercy. If we had been without sin, to whom would he demonstrate these traits of his character?
Without sin we would not know God’s justice. We say that God is just and all his judgments are true. But we would not comprehend the scale of God’s justice if there were no sin.
Without sin we would not know God’s long-suffering (patience). God does not orchestrate the immediate damnation of the sinner. Rather, he takes time for the sinner to come to conviction. He puts up with the sin of all mankind, for his own purposes.
Without sin we would not know God’s wrath. Honestly, that’s something I can do without. Thankfully, those who know Christ will never experience the fullness of God’s wrath. But we can know something of God’s character by recognizing his wrath toward those who reject his son and remain in their sin. Knowing his wrath helps us to understand his justness, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
I’d also like to submit that without sin we would not know the full expression of God’s love.
It’s one thing to love when things are good and relationships are close. But it’s another thing to love when offended or rejected or persecuted. The sinner who comes to know Christ comes to realize how much God’s loves him or her because of the love expressed through the cross of Christ. How much deeper is our understanding of God’s love because Jesus suffered horribly for the sake of our redemption. The full expression of God’s love could never be fully experienced if not demonstrated through his suffering for us. Can there even be a full expression of love without suffering or sacrificing for another? If Christ is our model for loving expression, then I think not.
I hate sin. I long for the day when my sin nature will forever be removed from me. But I’m also in awe that God’s ordination of sin’s existence enables me—enables all of us—to experience God’s character in ways that would not be possible without sin. Truly, our knowledge of God, our understanding of his character, of who he is, would be greatly limited if not for the expressions of God’s character demonstrated because of sin.
How deep and profound it is to understand God’s character because of our flaws. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages:
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
All things, even sin that separates us from God is used by God to enable the Christian to know him, to really know him in ways not possible without the existence of sin.
What other ways do we know God better because of sin?