When dad “lays down the law,” the children know this is one time they must obey. When ancient kings said, “Off with their heads,” the executioner grabbed his axe. These are decrees. Decrees are absolutes, edicts given by someone in authority and obedience is expected without question.
God has made certain decrees. We call most of them the “laws of nature.” For instance, He has decreed the boundaries of the oceans. He has decreed the rain and the force of the winds, the waters and the paths of the storms. He said that there would be a seed time and a harvest as long as the earth shall stand.
God has ordered the moon and stars in their courses. He has set the course of the planets into patterns that will endure as long as God had decreed them to endure. The universe is bound to the powerful rule of God and we can depend upon its laws and movements.
Anything that God decrees is controlled by His sovereign power. It is not subject to the whims of any of His creation. Whatever God has decreed, nothing and no one can change. But oh how we try!
One decree that we especially single out to resist concerns life and death. He says, “The soul that sins, it shall die . . . ” We don’t want to die. We invent and research. We look for the fountain of life and the elixir of youth. We plan a future utopia and devise doctrines of reincarnation. We determine we will control our own destiny but no matter the philosophy we come up with, God has decreed the law of sin and death. Our problem is that we refuse to deal with sin. It is the real issue. “The wages of sin is death . . . ” Death is only sin’s consequences.
God, holy in character and sin-hating in attitude, refuses to look upon sin. Because He is righteous in all that He does, sin has no place in His presence and sinners cannot enter His eternal dwelling place. Should there be an attempt to do so, they would be not only driven back into darkness by His radiant Light, but that light would destroy them.
God also cares for that which He has made, even those who sinfully rebel against Him. It does not please Him to put sinners away from Him. It does not please Him when anyone perishes and is lost forever in eternal death. However, His decree cannot be reversed or altered. His holy nature never changes, therefore His wrath against sin is unavoidable.
This is not a hopeless decree. In His wisdom, God devised a plan whereby His love for man and His decree for justice could both be satisfied. He sent His Son into the world. He says the wages of sin is death, but He adds, “ . . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ took God’s wrath for our sin when He died on the cross.
Does that automatically make every sinner safe from the decree of sin and death? Not at all. If we enjoy our sin and walk away from the offer of life, or if we ignore Jesus Christ, or if we think our self-efforts to please God will be sufficient to earn life, the gift will not be ours. It has to be received, not ignored or paid for. That is another of God’s decrees. He says, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Just as the laws of nature are certain and dependable, we can be sure that God’s other law, the law of sin and death, will be fulfilled. But so will the law of life. The choice is ours.