To understand the good news of how the relationship between God and man must be restored, one must first understand how that relationship fell into ruin.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. — Romans 3:23
We were dead in sins… — Ephesians 2:5 God is holy (spiritually clean) and man is sinful (spiritually unclean). Just as a person who was physically clean could not tolerate being next to a dead, decaying, stinking animal, so a perfect and holy God cannot allow a sinful and imperfect man into His presence. Man is dead in his sins!
Separation From God
The result of sin is clear:
Your sins have made a barrier between you and your God. — Isaiah 59:2
SIN CREATES A BARRIER THAT SEPARATES MAN FROM GOD
God is both holy (spiritually clean) and infinite. Therefore, He is infinitely holy! Consequently, even the smallest sin is infinitely offensive to Him. Thus, the Bible teaches that even the smallest sin is enough to eternally separate man from God. God cannot allow sin in His presence.
Man’s Efforts Are Useless!
Man has always sought a way to cross the barrier that separates him from God. He has tried to break through it by baptism, good works, loving your neighbor, sacraments, joining some particular church or denomination, etc. But the Bible teaches that no work of sinful man can ever tear down the barrier of sin that separates Holy God from sinful man.
The Bible says:
But we are like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags. — Isaiah 64:6 To attempt to wash away your sins through your own works is as hopeless as trying to wash a dirty face using a dirty greasy rag! There is absolutely nothing that man can do to erase his sins and cross the barrier that separates him from God. (Also see Haggai 2:12-14; Luke 18:10-14; Romans 3:20; 3:27-38; 4:5; Galatians 3:10-11, 21)
The Problem: God Must Punish Sin
The Bible tells us that since God is holy and just, He must punish sin.
Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:6
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man. — Romans 1:18
God’s justice requires that man must pay for the sins which he has committed against Holy God by suffering God’s eternal punishment. (Also see 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:10.) How Christ freed us from God’s wrath through His own death can be explained in three steps.