Posted on: 2014-01-10

Sin Does Pay
\"The wages of sin is death\" (Rom. 6:23). On this count the Bible has been right. It certainly is about this country. The sheer empirical evidence before us in Nigeria shows a rich harvest of deaths. No thanks to terrorism, armed robbery, inter-ethnic killings, kidnapping, suicides, ritual and extra-judicial killings, road and domestic accidents, disease, ignorance etc., which have all conspired to make Nigeria a killing-field of a nation. Many think all this is nothing out of the ordinary. Other people lament that this is not the way things should be. One main reason for the suffering and deaths in Nigeria is surely sin, in its many ramifications; corruption, dishonesty, perversion of the law, favoritism, fraud, stealing etc. Truly, the wages of such sins is abundant death!
All Have Sinned And Fallen Short
Human beings have always tried to subvert God\'s opinion of how this world ought to be run. Man normally would choose any other way but God\'s way. Quoting St Paul fully, we read in the Bible: \"So on one side is Sin: its reward, death; on the other side is God: he gives us by grace, life everlasting in Christ Jesus, our Lord\" (Romans 6:23). Over the ages man has tried in vain to put God away. My good friend, Fr. George Ehusani, once wrote: \"History has demonstrated clearly that abandoned to their wits, human beings cannot bring about their own salvation...If because of technological advancement we were even tempted to imagine that human progress was endless or that we can perfect the world ourselves, then the HIV̩AIDS epidemic, the crisis of global terrorism and the ecological crisis are enough to make us begin to think differently. We must recognize that the resources for human salvation do not lie within human history\" Indeed, if man could have saved himself, Jesus Christ would never have come into the world (John 3:16 Rom. 3:23).
Repentance is the Gateway to Salvation
When Jesus of Nazareth came, the first message he preached was of repentance. Like his predecessor, John the Baptist, he cried out̀̀ \"Change your ways, the kingdom of heaven is near\". (4:17). By his very words Jesus confirmed the existence of sin in humanity and the necessity for man to repent in order to be saved. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that sin is a loss of trust in God, an abuse of God-given freedom, leading to disobedience (CCC 385-412). That is what characterized original sin (Gen. 3) which destroyed the harmony of man with God and with creation and subjected the union between man and woman to tensions of lust and domination. The final consequence of sin is that death entered human history. It affects all humanity as St. Paul affirmed (Rom 5: 12) and only faith in Jesus and grace mitigate that fact.
The Pope Cannot Abrogate Sin
Pope Francis has recently been named TIME magazine \"Man of the Year\" and yet has often been grossly misinterpreted. His optimistic and sympathetic consideration of the human situation is perfectly aligned with Christ\'s. He urged the Church to focus more on the soul of man than on the gravity of his depravity. Jesus did the same with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1ff). But some managers of public opinion often pervert his teachings on moral and spiritual matters. Recently, Eugenio Scalfari, a well-known Italian intellectual, declared that Pope Francis, through his teachings had \"abolished\" sin. After holding a long private conversation with the Pope, he concluded curiously that Pope Francis believed that sin effectively no longer exists because God\'s mercy and forgiveness were \"eternal\". Such a blunder ignores the truth that man\'s weak and condescending nature cannot be legislated away by anyone, not even the Pope.
Sin is Recognizable and Punishable
The Catholic Church has for long identified some parameters of human concupiscence under seven forms, tagged \"seven deadly sins\". Going by the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas they are envy, greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, pride and anger.The great Mahatma Gandhi classified the seven social sins in the world as:
Wealth without work;
Pleasure without conscience;
Business without morality;
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice;
Politics without principle;
Knowledge without character.
The great American Catholic archbishop and star television and radio evangelist, Fulton J.Sheen, had his own classification. He taught that the dominant sin of youth is lust, that of middle age, pride and of old age, greed. Obviously for him at every age in life sin does exist.
What chronically-blind optimist would then deny that sin still exists today? Pope Francis would certainly not commit such an error. In reality he upped the dangers of sinning by asking that judgment be left in the hands of the impartial God who will reward everyone according to his deeds (Rom 14:10). It is really that more frightening reality which Dwight L. Moody, the American publisher and evangelist, spoke about when he declared that those who sin for profit shall, before God, not profit by their sins. It pays for all to turn away from sin and be saved.