What can you tell me about the sin-punishment-redemption motif in the Christian religion?
This question will be answered in three parts. Sin is the reason that Jesus Christ came to earth. Punishment is what happens to those who reject Jesus. Those who believe that Jesus Christ was God born in human flesh, died for our sins, returned to life, and is the only One who can forgive our sins and provide redemption.
Sin first entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Modern writers and ancient art depict Adam and Eve eating an apple. Actually, we do not know what kind of fruit they ate. The fruit is not important. The act of disobedience was the problem. Sometime after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, God called out to them.
Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” [Adam] said . . . I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (NASB) Genesis 3:9-11
The important statement is “commanded you not to eat.” It did not matter what the fruit was. God adds some information in Romans 5.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men . . . (NASB) Romans 5:12
Adam sinned (disobeyed God) and as a result the entire human race became guilty of sin. We are born into this world as sinners.
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners . . . (NASB) Romans 5:19
We became sinners when Adam disobeyed God. The proof that we are sinners is the fact that we sin all by ourselves. We prove that we are sinners when we do not want to obey God.
When Adam disobeyed God, he caused death to enter this world. Man was designed to live forever, but when Adam disobeyed, he brought both physical and spiritual death to all of us.
. . . for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die. (NASB) Genesis 2:17
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (NASB) Romans 5:17
In fact, God says that we are walking dead men. We physically walk, but we are spiritually dead.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world . . . (NASB) Eph. 2:1-2
Unless we do something about our condition, we are going to suffer for eternity. We will spend eternity somewhere. The question is where?
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NASB) Matthew 25:46
At this point some would accuse God of being unloving. Some people have said, “God is love. He would not send anyone to hell.” People who make this comment do not understand God. God is holy and He will not allow sinners into heaven. It is God’s standard of holiness that counts – not ours. God is love and as a result He has given us an escape from eternal hell.
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (NASB) John 3:36
But He will send those who reject Jesus to hell if He must.
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. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (NASB) John 3:16-18
All you need to do to escape the penalty of your sins is to believe that Jesus is God, died for your sins, returned to life, and is the only One who can forgive your sins. Those who refuse to believe have rejected Jesus!
Jesus Christ is the only One who can save us from the eternal punishment that awaits every men and women because of the sins we have committed – because of our ongoing disobedience!