All my life as a Christian I have been taught, and I confess have taught that sin has separated us from God. In most Christian context this is understood as a relational separation where we humans have broken relationship with God. We use stories like the elder and younger sons taught by Jesus, better known as the prodigal son to support this view. We refer to verses like Isaiah 59:2 where it says, “But your iniquities (sin) have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Both of the examples I have stated above are used as arguments to support the idea that sin has relationally separated us from God, but that would be taking both text out of context to make that point.
I’m not writing to argue against the idea that sin separates us from God, rather I’m writing to ask in what way are we separated? Does sin separate us RELATIONALLY from God where we can’t experience God? Are we to believe that God has divorced himself as our Father and abandoned us as orphan? I already know what some are thinking. No, God didn’t abandon us, we abandoned Him. Either way, the idea is we are relationally separated, divorced from God because of sin with no way or hope of getting back to our Father outside of Christ.
Perhaps there is another way of looking at this separation. What if it’s not a relational separation, but a MORAL distinction where we are separated/different than God. What if sin has separated us mentally and behaviorally from the way God thinks and behaves? What if sin has caused God’s child to act like they are not His children, but none the less are still His beloved children. What if it wasn’t our relationship we lost due to sin, but our identity and moral goodness and purity?
If we go back to the Genesis account we read about a God who is perfect in holiness, righteousness, love, goodness, grace, mercy and so-on. We are told we humans were created in His very image, and He breathed into mankind and mankind became a living soul. Were humans created morally perfect like God? Is the Genesis fall a fall from God’s character, and not a fall from relationship? In the Genesis account God told mankind that if they sinned they would know good and evil. In Genesis three we have the account of mankind sinning and immediately experienced the moral change of knowing good and evil, and doing evil acts.
Is it possible that the separation the Bible speaks about between humanity and God is a moral separation where we humans have a capacity to hate, murder, steal, lie, cheat, accuse, disrespect, abandon, condemn, etc.? Is it possible we were created morally like God but sin has morally corrupted the human heart and we are no longer morally like God, being separated from Him not relationally, but in thought and behavior.
Being morally separated/distinct from God seems to fit better with verses like John 3:16-17 where it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” He did not come to condemn, but to save, or heal.
The work of the Gospel is to show us the damaging effects of sin and to reveal a God who came to fix our sin problem not because we are separated from Him like prodigals, but separated from Him in character and in our separation we hurt one another. Which explain why He came to SAVE US - He came to save us from our own evil destructive behaviors.