The Sin of Godlessness
“God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
What is God saying to mankind about sin? That mankind has fully fallen into sin, and is not walking rightly before God. That we are not seeking God, obeying His commandments; that the reality of all humanity is that we do not know God or love Him, we are not thankful to Him or worship Him, and that we are ultimately walking in rebellion against Him. Our rejection of God in these ways is the sin of godlessness.
If we are to understand what sin truly is, we should firstly look at sin through the lens of this word godlessness. To be godless is to be without any reverence to God and His Word and to lack God entirely in one’s life. Though God should fill our lives, us living from Him, through Him, and to Him (Rom 11:36); though true goodness flows only from walking before Him, knowing, and obeying Him, a godless person’s life is devoid of this. Void of any true knowledge of Him, love for Him, walking uprightly in His ways, of any praise and appreciation of Him, and trust of Him.
Though God created everything that exists: all the planets, stars, and galaxies; all the birds, insects, and every animal; all the bodies of water, trees, and mountains; all of humanity, and all their bodies, souls, and spirits, for all of this, we can have nothing of Him because we have no regard for God—we care nothing for Him or His ways, and do not seek Him. It is this great sin of godlessness that all of mankind is called to repent of, and to be reconciled again to God, through Christ (2 Cor 5:20-21).
A Whole Life Without God
The sin of mankind is in how we live after this or that desire, this or that ambition or plan, and yet completely forsake the Lord and His Word. Not all sin looks like harmful or malicious action—it is about living for anything other than God, living devoid of God. We rise early so that we might chase after all our plans and ambitions and we stay up late indulging our pleasures (or working towards that which will result in our pleasure and ease and pride). We do not regard the works of the Lord:
“Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands… Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 5:11-12, 24, emphasis added)
While to us it may not seem wrong to pursue our families’ welfare or our careers, it is wrong when we utterly forget our Maker. And “forgetting our Maker” is the perpetual state of the whole world. Mankind lives so entirely for our plans and pleasures, desires and ambitions, and doesn’t have any regard for God. It matters much less what we live after, but only that a person, without repentance before God, is living in complete contempt of God, His Law, and His Son. And God’s warning against all of humanity is that we must repent of this eternal sin against God, and that refusing to repent of living in such a way, refusing to turn from our forgetting the Living God, will destroy us: “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!” (Psalm 50:22)
Why We Need to See Godlessness Is the Real Sin
Understanding the sin of godlessness is very important for us in understanding what God is saying to humanity. This is because we in the Western World today have a difficult time seeing what our sin is, and generally that is because we have many ideas of morality.
All of us have ideas of what is good and right, and are quite convinced of these. This of course doesn’t mean we are not sinful, but it means it can be very difficult to see how we are sinful. When a person is told they are a sinner, they generally think, “Well no, I’m not doing X,Y, and Z, and I do A, B, C.” So in order to both begin to see our own sins and understand where all sin takes its root, the best place to begin is not looking at what we are doing but look at what we are not doing. And specifically, rather than look at what we think we are doing morally right towards people (or lack thereof), we should look at all we are not doing towards God—our godlessness.
Our ideas of morality generally have no basis in what God deserves, and while on one hand this proves how hollow and sinful our morality actually is, on the other hand, it is helpful to also look here as we work to understand the repentance to which God calls us. Instead of wrestling around with our moralities, we can skip directly past these things for the time being and look straight into the face of all we have not done unto God.
The repentance that God is speaking to humanity about is rooted within this turning from living by our own ideas of right and wrong, to see if we are living according to the great Law of God. Do we keep His commandments or do we disregard them? Do we seek God or do we forget Him? How do we hold this in our hearts and in our living? This is where we can see more clearly what the Bible is speaking to about sin and righteousness.
How wrong is it that humans would be content to live in the world God made, enjoying and using and pursuing all these things that God has made, and we want all of it except Him? Even in the most beautiful of places, this world is fallen, and it is longing for Jesus to make all things new, yet humanity does not join this cry. We should long for a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13), and where GOD is. It should alarm mankind to realize that they are so content to live without God and righteousness.
The Way Back into God
The Lord reveals that this is the great center of sin in mankind—our forsaking the LORD of Heaven and Earth (Rom 1:18-23). That correcting this eternal sin against God is the only way for any of us to walk in true righteousness towards God and man, the only way for us to become wise (Prov 9:10), and only in this reconciliation do we come to understand what truth is (John 8:32, 17:17, Eph 4:21).
The LORD is calling out to the whole of mankind to turn back from this rebellion against Him, from this godlessness, and to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:19-20, Acts 17:30-31). That to continue to forsake the LORD means we refuse to repent of this godlessness, and means we choose sin over righteousness, lies over truth, and darkness over light (John 3:18-21, 2 Thess 2:10), and that we will ultimately be condemned if we continue in such sin against the God who created us. This is because forsaking our Creator and having contempt for Him and His Law is an eternal sin. And that doing this can only be done out of sin.
Yet to those who turn back to God, who submit to Him as King (Ps 2:10-12), the Righteous One, and the Eternal God who is worthy of all our faith, obedience, love, and trust, God promises redemption through His Son, Christ Jesus.
“Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness. But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.” (Isaiah 1:27-28)
The Lord Jesus has come down from heaven that we might no longer live in this godlessness, but that in Him, we might be turned again to the Living God. This is the offer God presents to us in His Gospel. Rather than living in a world God has made as if He does not exist in and around and over us, Jesus made a way for us to return to God and be filled with life and godliness in Him (2 Pet 1:3).
God has declared in His gospel to all of humanity that His judgment is entirely bound up in His Son. That all who are willing and obedient to turn from their sins and godlessness towards God will be forgiven in Christ:
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. ‘Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (Isaiah 1:16-20, emphasis added)
To the unbeliever: God is just, merciful, kind, and forgiving. You may struggle to understand all that God is saying to mankind but the question is if you will inquire about these things for yourself. I pray you would love your soul enough to do so, and bear any cost to align with the Truth.
To the believer: we need to understand how right the rebuke/call to those living apart from God is, and that it is not merely about condemning this or that action but rather that of a whole life based in a reality where God is not all in all. We should be very careful to guard against any hard thoughts against God for His judgment of mankind, it is most just. At the same time, may we also examine our own hearts and lives, and determine not to continue on with the remaining godlessness that yet permeates our own living. The sin of godlessness defines the whole of the unbeliever’s reality, but it is also the root of all sins, even in the believer’s life. So let us be zealous to repent, and bless God that He calls us back to Himself.
April 29, 2022