The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Sin separates us from God?

All my life I’ve heard that “Sin separates us from God?” And it is usually presented as God being the one who is offended and leaves. But is this true? And I’m curious as to the biblical support for the statement “sin separates us from God”.

In Eden, sin didn’t separate man from God, but brought death. Adam and Eve continued to have relationship with God though there were consequences for their actions.

So, what are your thoughts?

Romans 8:31-39 New Living Translation (NLT)

Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,** neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Upon reading your post, I thought of what Bible verse would be appropriate, and I pulled up the one, above. I think it can be said that nothing separates us from God.

However, when we are not living in HIs will, but rather in our own flesh, I believe we are more likely to fall into sin, and to be more open to the influence of this world, and Satan.

…7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 1 Peter 5:7 - 9

We need to daily be prepared for the arrows of sin to be shot towards us, as Ephesians 6:10 - 18 states:

Ephesians 6:10-18Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

10 As to the rest, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might;
11 put on the whole armour of God, for your being able to stand against the wiles of the devil,
12 because we have not the wrestling with blood and flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual things of the evil in the heavenly places;
13 because of this take ye up the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to resist in the day of the evil, and all things having done – to stand.
14 Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about in truth, and having put on the breastplate of the righteousness,
15 and having the feet shod in the preparation of the good-news of the peace;
16 above all, having taken up the shield of the faith, in which ye shall be able all the fiery darts of the evil one to quench,
17 and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God,
18 through all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit, and in regard to this same, watching in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints –

So, for now, I will say we are not separated from God, but more likely to be lead astray, when we are not in HIs will for us. He loves us, even in our sin.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8**

I am one who reads the bible from an earthly perspective. I believe what is written deals mostly with life here on Earth.
Some say that since Adam and Eve didn’t die physically, this death means that God banned them from eternal life in heaven. I don’t see it that way. God’s love for us is unconditional. It is the type of inseparable love that one has for their own children. I also believe that Jesus was none other than God Himself in the flesh. In coming to Earth and doing all the things He did as well as dying upon the cross, this shows the incredible amount of love that He has for all of us.
When it is said that “sin separates us from God”, a good biblical example might be the story of the prodigal son. I have to admit that I am guilty of using this phrase. I don’t know what other people mean by it, but for me it means the physical and spiritual( grief, depression, etc.) death and destruction that sin causes in our lives. In the case of the story of Adam and Eve, I believe that there were also other people in the garden. So when God told them that they would die, I think they experienced these results of sin in their own lives and witnessed the effects of it in the lives of the people around them.

Hey Sherman, most people use the OT verse about God not being able to look on sin. Of course its taken way out of context. This should be interesting.

Sherman, Nimblewill, I see what you are saying. This can be confusing for some people. I was trying to think of a better way to put it. Maybe, sin doesn’t separate us from God’s love, but here again I think that it does in some way. Not that God ceases to love us, but that we separate ourselves from God’s love when we sin. Take for example an alcoholic. His/her family may still love this person, but the alcoholic isolates himself from that love.

Now on third thought, does sin separate us from God’s love? Again, from the way I see it, God never stops loving us. Here is another example of how the separation occurs: A married couple who love each other find out one day that one of them must leave on an extended trip half way around the world. The distance between them will not separate their love of one another. However, a married couple who ends up in divorce because one of them decided to go love another is a different story. The person left behind in this case may still love the other, but the person leaving has lost that love.
I’ve often heard it said that you love the person, but hate the sin. I think sin changes a person into someone else. We may love the person who once was, but if they are not that person anymore then what? Does the core of them remain or does that eventually die off?

From my perspective, as I understanding it, biblically… “sin” equates to “relational death” aka in biblical parlance “EXILE” (spiritual death). A & E (personified or micro version of Israel’s macro story) as later was demonstrated in the larger story of Israel, were disobedient to ‘the command’ and as a consequence got booted out of the Land/Garden.

As I’ve noted elsewhere, I see “physical” death as having always been a God ordained part of the natural state of His created order. Had A & E “lived forever” (already presupposes the presence of natural death) “sin” indeed would have been immortalised, thus extending beyond the grave (sheol/hades) and man created in His image would have truly been endlessly “separated”. Until Jesus no one had risen to the Father… all were locked up in hades until He led captivity captive.

It is often said but such is not in the bible. Besides which it is rarely practiced anyway… a person is most often labelled/judged by their actions (sin), example: ‘love the sinner but hate the sin’ is a far cry from “God hates fags!!” etc.

I’m inclined to think that’s more about us not taking accountability i.e., “the devil made me do it”. :question:

I think the latter is the case with “the core” being incredibly hard to acknowledge as dissipated and gone, and so subsequently let go of. :frowning:

Does Jesus have the same nature as God? If yes then didn’t Jesus hang with sinners much of the time. Did Jesus feel sin separated these sinners from him?

Excellent question Steve.

That is a key question and points to a general principle, I think - many of the questions concerning God that trouble people can really be answered by pointing to Jesus Christ.

Davo, I also believe that natural death is a part of God’s creation. In saying that sin causes physical death, I am referring to such things as war, murder, starvation, etc.
In saying that sin changes a person, I don’t mean this as an excuse. On the contrary, I believe we are on the same page. When sin starts ruling our lives, our hearts grow cold. We start blaming others for our woes, sometimes even God, failing to look in the mirror and see that it is our own errant ways that are the cause of our demise.
I interpret the story of Adam and Eve a bit differently. As you say, it tells the same story as that of Israel. In the end, God separated those who followed His word from those who continued to follow their own path, which eventually led them to destruction. I believe the garden of Eden also fell to destruction.

Steve, Yes, Jesus did hang with sinners, but He did not participate in their sin. He was calling them to repentance. Sin does separate us from God, but it is of our own choosing. For we can’t be one with God if we are going in the opposite direction.
Luke 11: 23 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
Luke 12:51 “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”

Thanks for sharing, everyone.
With LLC I’m thinking that sin does bring a sense of relational distance with God, a loss of intimacy which is regained through repentance. But sin can’t ultimately separate us from God because God loves us. The question came up when a lady asked a minister why she didn’t “feel saved”. No matter how many times she gave her heart to the Lord, baptized, etc., she didn’t “feel” saved. The minister recalled how that sin separates us from God and encouraged her to take time to pray, list our her sins on a piece of paper, ask God’s forgiveness and then burn the piece of paper. I was thinking that faith comes through hearing the word, so I might have advised her differently. But ultimately it started me thinking about the statement that “sin separtes us from God” and how that that’s not actually a true statement. How does one know one is “saved”? Is it a feeling?

No. Of course Jesus did not “participate in the sin” of sinners. But neither did He separate Himself from sinners. The Pharisees condemned Him for associating with tax collectors and prostitutes. He and ate and drank with them. He loved them and wanted to see them delivered from the things that were dragging them down.

Sin does not separate us from God. God will continue to work on sinners and with sinners. He never gives up on any of us.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7: 36-50)

Makes sense to me.

I’m also thinking yes.

Coming into a new “headspace” (repentance) and realisation that God has “put away sin” helps one imbibe of the reality of God grace in more personal terms.

That’s the probable outcome of being taught what “being saved” means, and THAT meaning being wrong.

Again that might depend on WHAT one has been taught being “saved” is, and WHAT one is “being saved” FROM.

IF God in Christ “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” then one might need to look elsewhere for what one is “being saved” from BECAUSE ‘the offence’ of sin from God’s perspective ceased to exist a long time ago.

IMO… religianity [of whatever garb] keeps “sin consciousness” at the fore as the means of garnering control over those whom such has convinced submission to particular criterion brings survival; this really does mess with the head and is not a healthy thing. Repentance, i.e., a change of mind, from this “sin consciousness” helps in better grasping the reality of God’s grace on a practical level… that at least has been my experience anyway.

Paidion, It all depends on how one defines the word separate.

Separate- disunited, unalike, divided, withdrawn, not living together, parting of the ways, etc.

God’s love for us is not at question. The problem lies with us and our love God.
When we are sinning, we are separate( not united, unalike) from God. If we are living sinful lives, not according to God, we are separate( not living together). When we follow our own ways and not God’s, we are separate(parting ways) from God. If we are against God, we are divided (separate).

There are also many instances in the bible where God has to separate His people in order to save them from destruction. Examples-Eden, Noah, The Exodus, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jerusalem.

Reading your replies.

Perhaps what separates us the most is a conscious choice, that we are going to live our lives, doing our will, and not God’s will.

This is sin, but more than sin, too.

We can sin, even when we attempt to surrender our will to God’s.

But, to try to hold onto our lives, and not be willing to die to self, is more than sin. We are not doing the very thing that will transform us into ‘new creations’. We are not allowing our minds to be renewed; we are not living in the Spirit, but still in the flesh.

John 3:

…2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”…

I believe this is the greatest barrier between us and God. We must die to self and be born to the Spirit. Otherwise, we will never ‘see’ by faith, but only in the flesh.

Davo, you seem to have some knowledge of Greek. The passage doesn’t state that long ago Christ “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” and that God sees this as an accomplished fact.

The word isn’t even a verb; it is a noun. The sentence tells why Christ died. It says that He was manifested at the end of the ages “εις αθετησιν της αματιας.” You surely know that the preposition “εις” often means “for the purpose of.” And the NOUN “αθετησις” often means “abolition.”

Messiah Jesus appeared at the end of the ages for the purpose of the abolition of sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The ultimate purpose of Christ’s magnificent sacrifice is to do away with sin altogether. The process has begun, but is not yet complete. At Christ’s coming, He will put the finishing touches on each of his disciples, and the process will be complete.

I know this is straying from the topic a bit, but in answer to Sherman’s question, “How does one know if one is saved?”, as Davo mentions, it all depends on one’s interpretation of the word “saved” and what we are being saved from. God’s word gives us the knowledge that saves us from many things. I believe that one of the things we need to be saved from is the power of our own hearts and minds. These are gifts from God, and if used incorrectly, they can prove to be very dangerous,destructive, and often-times fatal. It’s like giving a car to a person who doesn’t have a license to drive. God’s word instructs us on how to use our hearts and minds properly. When we do so, the possibilities of what we can do are endless.
Matthew 24:32 says this, " Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When it’s branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near." So I would say that we know we are saved when we are no longer tearing our lives down but building them up and producing the fruit of the Spirit.

I’m not sure how noting the fact that ἀθέτησιν athetēsin being a NOUN meaning “annulment” the effect of which is “to put away” somehow magically negates anything I pointed out??? Of course the passage doesn’t say “long ago”… I was stating what is obvious; IF one accepts that Christ, some little while back, ABOLISHED, did away with, dare I say ANNULLED that which had kept humanity from finding God, i.e., “THE sin” of the first Adam… that which the last Adam undid, THEN… “THE sin” was/IS abolished, aka annulled!

That all sounds great, UNTIL you then clarified what YOU meant by this by stating…

It doesn’t (CANNOT) work both ways… Jesus either HAS (past tense) OR is still YET TO, or as you say “is to” (future tense) “put away THE sin”. You’ve misread Hebrews… Jesus’ once for all perfect sacrifice (“at the end of the ages”) wrought ANULLMENT ἀθέτησιs athetēsis (Heb 7:18) on the old covenant system BECAUSE it was inefficient and “ready to pass awayHeb 8:13.

What you are in effect saying by… “The ultimate purpose of Christ’s magnificent sacrifice is to do away with sin altogether” TOTALLY denudes Christ’s priestly sacrifice of perfection… needing STILL to continuously offer up (who knows what) UNTIL, because you say… “The process has begun, but is not yet complete.

I’d like to see more textual evidence to support this notion that Christ’s perfected sacrificial work remains yet, according to your estimation, incomplete, i.e., ineffectual, as logic dictates is the ultimate consequence of your position. Until then I’ll maintain that Christ’s abolition of “THE sin” remains indeed an established and “accomplished fact”.