The Nature of Eternity and the Experience of Sin

I’m not really sure if Daily Evangelism is the proper category for this question, but I wasn’t sure where to post it…

I’m reading Psalm 109. This has led me to primarily consider two aspects of sin and secondarily the “nature of eternity” (if that even means anything). I would love some feedback on these thoughts, from anyone who is so inclined.

The Experience of Sin:
My Experience of My Sin: I experience my acts of sin as moments in time; as occurrences — that is, existing in a place, under a certain set of conditions. This is simply in reference to my actual (loathsome) acts themselves, not necessarily my sin nature.
God’s Experience of My Sin: Since He is outside of time, not tethered in constant relation to space, is my sin to Him not momentary, but eternal? Again, I’m referring to the acts themselves, not the consequences i.e. judgment, etc. If for the Lord every moment is eternal (2 Peter 3:8; Psalm 90:4 and 90:2 - “from everlasting to everlasting”), simultaneously existing in His Presence, is what I say and do but once, in my experience, being said and done eternally before Him (Psalm 109:15; Psalm 90:8)?

Also concerning sin:
Psalm 109:16-19 describes a sinner. May I quote some: “He loved to curse; curses have come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; it is far from him! He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; it has soaked into his body like water, like oil into his bones! May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day!”
(Emphasis mine)
So, as I thought about this, a bit and piece of The Great Divorce came into my mind, and I wondered if there is some truth to this thought: do we go from being a sinner to being sin? What I mean is, is one first a sinner, but then, if they don’t let God heal them, does one actually become sin itself? Does it soak into them like water, like oil, until there is no longer a distinction between the sin and the being?
Here’s the quote from The Great Divorce:
“Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”

So what if we took the liberty of replacing some of C.S. Lewis’ words to elucidate this point, and hope he won’t mind?
Hell begins with a [sin],… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the [sin] or even to enjoy it, but just the [sin] itself, going on forever… It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell [because of our sinful acts]. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE [sin, and warrant] hell unless it is nipped in the bud.

Thoughts?

On a side note, I came across the whole concept of annihilationism (as a doctrine) asserted quite matter-of-factly just recently, and I’ve really been grappling with it ever since in theological, philosophical and scriptural terms. I don’t know if it’s simply a matter of eisegesis versus exegesis or if it goes beyond that. But these considerations and other research have helped my perspective greatly.

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Hey Jeremy @countryinked, love that you are delving into the bible. Great question.

For your first question, it is interesting. So God is eternal yes, but your sin does not repeat itself. Being eternal is that God exists outside of time and also in time. One of my teachers had given me a great example for this. I hope this helps. It’s a math’s analogy. You know the numbers line, goes from negative infinity to positive infinity. In that analogy, we are the specific numbers, say 1, 10, or -4. God is actually the number line itself. He is in contact with time and present in all of time at the same time. You cant exit God. So your sin happened once, sure in time, but being eternal does not make it repeat. If you are trying to say, “ would the sin exist eternally”, yes in the records. You cant undo it. And unless it is forgiven, it will wait for you until judgement day.

For your second question, sin is not an entity by itself. Sin is missing the mark. The mark is Christ. Anything that is not perfect as God is missing the mark, aka sin, and that leads to death. I think Psalm 109:16-19 is a figurative description more than it saying that we would turn into sin itself. As the secular world tells us, thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become behavior, and before we know it we dont even recognize the difference. It becomes our new normal. But we are not the sin itself. It just means we have lost the ability to discern the difference. The cursing also becomes integrated in us, it becomes part of us. But we wont be it.

That’s my 2 cents. I hope it helps.
God Bless You.

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Thanks Dan!

That numbers line analogy is a good illustration, I’ll have to think about that.

I guess I wasn’t so much thinking of my sin repeating itself as I was thinking it was always before God in the actual act, you know? It’s like you said:

If he is present in all of time at the same time, there is no past or future for Him, right? Only present. Only now. So all the actual happenings of my sin are in the present tense for Him? Not the record, but the acts themselves. This is the idea I’m exploring.

As far as sin being a separate entity, I’ve never held to that either. I know there are several descriptions of it throughout scripture, that is, multiple Hebrew and Greek words with different meanings (e.g. missing the mark, going beyond, etc.), but I’ve always taken Genesis 4:7 to be hyperbolic language.

Thanks for your thoughts Dan, I always enjoy reading them! I am still soaking in your “What Does God Want?” post, that was awesome.

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Hey Jeremy @countryinked, definitely. Anytime.

But how beautiful is our God. So mysterious and intriguing. And our human brains struggle to comprehend all that he is. In terms of

I dont know if that is the only conclusion we can make. He can be present at all times but for lack of a better term, he can “choose” to be more active in one timeline. Like Jesus, he is the eternal God. But he entered human history as man although he is the “I AM” before Abraham.

Thanks for great conversation. And maybe you are thinking of Brian on What God wants, or maybe me on a different title. Anyways, happy to help anytime.

God Bless.

Jeremy,
That’s some powerful imagery in Psalms 109 and from C.S. Lewis!

In full context Psalm 109 is a cry from David for the Lord to punish his enemies. Many verses in Psalm 109 describe the negative characteristics (to say the least) of his enemies, It is almost as if David is presenting his case against his enemies to the Lord. David is using poetic language, metaphor, and perhaps hyperbole in his plea. But. I can see how it would be troublesome if Psalm 109:16-19 applied to all sinners, not just those David is calling out. Very troublesome indeed!

The C.S. Lewis quote doesn’t draw any better a picture of the human condition. Lewis describes something like a “disease” that isn’t easily “cured” by trite apologies or being a good person. If left unchecked this “disease” infects in a way that it becomes almost indistinguishable from the person. Terrible!

Whether these images are literal or metaphorical, they certainly do get our attention. What these images remind me is that sin is serious. Deadly serious. So serious in fact that it has the power to make us horrible people (as in Psalm 109) or eternally separated from God by our choices (as in the Lewis quote). Often both! So, it matters not to me if I’m a sinner first, and then become sin, or even the other way around. What matters to me is what can be done about my sin and its terrible consequences.

In Romans, Paul tells us that we have two choices; to be a slave to sin and death, or to be a slave to Christ and life. I am grateful that “while we were yet sinners” (Rom. 5) Jesus approached us first, and gave atonement for my sin, so that I can be cured of my disease.

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Lam. 3:19-26

The issue you’ve brought up is thought provoking, but I hope you don’t get too weighed down by it. Instead I hope that you are able to live a life of gratitude and love towards the Lord for his love, mercy, grace and forgiveness that are “new every morning”. While knowledge has its place, as does theology and even apologetics, visibly living a life of gratitude towards God is by far more attractive to others. And I’d dare to say a life of gratitude is more likely to motivate us to put our faith into action as well!

Here’s a video from Michael Ramsden on the subject of Christians living (or not living) an abundant life. It humbled me deeply. Perhaps it will help shed some perspective to you too.

I hope this is helpful!

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Hey Mike, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I really appreciate you and @Danageze engaging. Also thanks for the video link, I’ve always really liked Michael Ramsden; his delivery and depth have made me a fan, so to speak.
I agree with you. When I think about things like this, it’s more of a momentary probing, to see if there are facets I haven’t considered, especially concerning deeply spiritual things like sin, or profoundly mysterious things like what eternity might be like. The Bible is so deep, I don’t want to miss any of it, you know?! But I also don’t want to read into it or take out of it what’s not there. I know my original post was highly speculative, and all our discussions about eternal and infinite things (beyond what scripture makes clear) will entail a lot of speculation.
I’ve just found that sometimes pondering these things has led me to a place of deeper appreciation for the Lord, His Word, His Blood…
Having said that, I realize what I was discussing is of less than even tertiary importance.
Who Jesus Is, what He’s done… that’s all the food for thought I really need when it’s all said and done.

I sure appreciate your post and your perspective, thank you!

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Hmm… I might be mixing things up, like you said. Sorry Dan! Haha.
Thanks again for your thoughts though man!

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Hey Mike, I just watched the video, thanks again.
The question the young guy asked is one I’ve asked of myself (about myself) many times. It is good to be brought back down to brass tacks.
Thanks man.
God bless!

Hey @countryinked and @mckenna,

I just watched the video as well and I had a comment about it. It is absolutely correct as Christians we need to live a transformed life but I also think that the guy who was asking that question maybe also was implying that "Why become a Christian if that is who I am going to look like. " That is tricky. People assume what it means to be a Christian. We are still humans, we are not perfect. That we still fall too from time to time and that the main message is that we are nothing without our savior, who we abide in to continue to mold us to look like him. It is not a magic pill. There is a spiritual growth and depth that continues to develop with walking with Christ. So just because someone said they are Christian that does not mean they perfectly look like Christ. That is impossible. That is the reason for the Cross. If that was not the case, he didnt need to die. We would just need to memorize the bible and we would have good works :wink: and go to heaven.

So what I am saying is that the outside world uses the imperfection of the church as an excuse not to be a Christian. It is probably a genuine excuse from lack of understanding that as they become a Christian too, although they are transformed, they still have to abide in Christ and the word to keep getting better and better. That’s the spirit of repentance, forgiveness and love. I think we need to tell the outside world that it is a journey of life, not a one time transformation and "That’s it. Oh opps it failed, look at them. They are not moral or good. No point in being Christian. Bye. "

But to his point, within the body of Christ, there are many of us who are not doing what we are supposed and yes we need to remind ourselves to put our money where our mouth is at :stuck_out_tongue:

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