“Why can’t God just forgive sin without all that Jesus dying on the cross and faith stuff?”
This question is typically asked by those opposed to Christianity. It usually expresses disdain for Christianity, and in some cases actual curiosity about the Gospel.
It’s not a bad question, one that many Christians couldn’t answer based on the poor state of much theology today.
The best way to answer the question is to get specific.
OK, what kind of sin would you like God to “just forgive?”
Child rape seems like a good place to start. A twisted man goes out and rapes a seven-year old girl.
“Oh, that’s OK,” says God. “I love you anyway. No worries! I’ll just act like I didn’t even see that.”
So, who is more worthy of worship:
1) A God who doesn’t mind one bit about seven-year old girls getting raped, feels no outrage at this, and has no desire to set things right. Or
2) A God who is enraged by such grossness, is willing to punish it, but is also willing to forgive and has laid down His life to justly deal with sin, and will grant forgiveness if the offender sincerely repents and desires forgiveness?
The first God has no reason to be worshipped. If sin does not offend God, then we don’t have much of a God.
OK, so child rape is an extreme example, sure we’d like a God who doesn’t like that, but what about little lies, eating forbidden fruit, or off-color jokes? These aren’t that big of a deal, can’t God let those go without getting all hot and bothered?
At what point does sin become not sin? The fact that we who live in the midst of sin aren’t too bothered by sin, doesn’t mean sin is right.
I’d still desire a God who is separate from our contamination. There are some sins that appear more “innocent” than others, less harmful anyway. But when people tell “little lies” to you, or take your stuff you didn’t want them to take, or make jokes at your expense, you don’t like it.
Even you are offended by what others view as “innocent” sins when it is at your expense. How much more is God offended who has a standard of righteousness He died to uphold?
Morality is us lining up with the character of God. God is the source of righteousness and morality. Sin isn’t just bad stuff, it’s a rebellion against who God is.
When David committed adultery he said to God, “Against you and you only have I sinned.” That doesn’t mean he didn’t sin against Bathsheba, her husband, or others, but it means the main issue is with God.
So much so that sinning against anyone else is nothing. Knowing you offended God is the best detriment to further sin.
If God simply dismissed sin He would contradict His character and it is His character that makes Him God. God has to take sin seriously, there must be a cost, and there must be a remedy.
In God’s full character He does all three. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be God.