“Why did Jesus die for our sins? ” is a questions some of us have but for many it seems easy to answer. “He died to save us from our sins,” we say, “everyone knows that.”

Ok, well that is everyone’s generic answer, which is true, but what does that really mean?

Love Beyond All Comprehension

We know, God died on the cross to save us, and that was a great act of love for us. But we don’t really understand why.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son [to suffer and die for our sins], so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Please know, when Adam and Eve sinned, their sin was so offence to Perfect Goodness that there was no way to atone–to make up–for the incredible wrong they had done. It was too great. And God, who is perfect love–who is perfect fairness/perfect justice–who allows no wrong to go unpunished–for “be assured, the wicked shall not go unpunished” (Proverbs 11:21)–had to have a consequence/punishment for that unfathomable crime against Himself.

The consequence/punishment Adam and Eve deserved for such a great offence was:

  1. The loss of saving grace: deserving of eternal punishment/Hell,
  2. The inclination for sin: have our hearts pull in-between wanting God and wanting sin while we live on earth, and
  3. Earthly suffering (indirect and direct consequences of sin).

But on top of that, not only were Adam and Eve unworthy of eternal life, inclined to sin and had to suffer on earth as a consequence of their wrongdoings, all of their children will have to suffer too. For us parents, we know there is no greater punishment than for our innocent children to suffer from what we have done wrong. But yet, that is what is love–fair and just.

“He [God] will by no means clear the guilty, visiting [punishing] the iniquity [sin] of fathers upon children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18).

Frankly, there is no punishment that could be “fair” for the injustice done against God… it is too unfathomable… beyond human comprehension.

But as we know, even though that one offence was so great and our personal sins are just astronomical deserving an incomprehensible punishment’s, Mercy has allowed us a way out. Yes, even though we all deserve the worst torments in Hell and have hurt God in insurmountable ways, Mercy still wants us to live and be with Him for eternity. So, from His great Heart of Love, He has allowed us a way to restore what sin has destroyed through His only begotten Son.

Yes, the restoration of our saving grace is given to us by Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, paying the punishment we deserve and teaching us The Way to Live. 

Yes, Jesus died for our sins, to take the punishment we deserve for our sins, so that anyone who truly believes in Him can be saved through Him. This is because one sin is infinitely offensive against our infinitely perfect Lord. Therefore, no sinner could possibly make up for our sins, only someone without sin could do that. Therefore, to save us The Father asked His Son if He would descend from Heaven and become His own creation, to be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man… to take the punishment we deserve and show us The Way to Heaven, for the salvation of our souls. 

Therefore, salvation comes through Christ. His sacrifice gave us the forgiveness of our sins, and His example and Spirit is here to teach us how to obtain true contrition for our sins so we can embrace His saving forgiving mercy so we can Live. 

Yes, Christ will change our hearts from desiring sin into desiring God alone by seeking God’s transforming grace–to teach, guide and strengthen us (to give us a new heart). And the changing of  our earthly suffering from vain pain/punishment into a means to atone for our life time of sin, for the sanctification of our souls, is found through Christ too.

Therefore, The Father’s immeasurable love for us is shown by giving us His Son to take away the consequences of our sins, so us miserable sinners can spend eternity with Him and not sin. We

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

We just need to learn how to accept that fantastic mercy He came and died to give us, so God’s Heart’s desire–us being with Him in Heaven–can come to reality.

Why God Became Man

Therefore, Jesus showed us His unfathomable love for us when He came to earth as His creation, suffered, died, rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.

He did this for three main reasons:

  • restore our union with Him–reestablish our saving (sanctifying) forgiving grace in our souls that was lost from Adam and Eve’s sin,
  • teach us how to regain & maintain His saving grace in our souls –instruct us to The Way, so when we lose our sanctifying grace from lacking true contrition for any sin (from our desire for sin), we can learn how to restore it and then keep it,
  • send us much helping grace–deliver His Holy Spirit so we can more easily accept His assistance in our lives on earth and following Him (live His Word) to regain and then maintain His life saving grace in our souls.

Therefore, when we ask the question, “Why did Jesus die for our sins?” it is more appropriately answered,  “God died to save us from the consequences of our sins.”

“Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.” 

–St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church 

Freedom to Love or Not

To understand God’s love correctly, lets start from the beginning. 

When God created man, He created us to love us. That was the purpose of God’s creation, so we can live our lives knowing, serving and loving Him…because He loves us and want us to love Him. 

But since love doesn’t force anyone to do anything, God gave us a free will to choice to love Him or not. Therefore, God won’t ever force us to love Him. He has endowed us with a FREEDOM TO LOVE if we wish.

When Adam and Eve were given a choice to love God or themselves, sadly they freely chose to love themselves and not God. With that first sinful choice, and because of the infinite injury just one sin causes to an infinitely perfect God, their sin had great consequences for all humanity. 

From God’s justice all of humankind has to bear the consequence of their free will choice to love themselves and not their Creator–the first sin. 

Below is a more in-depth look into sin’s great consequences.

The Consequences of the First Sin upon all man:

  • lost our union with God and His saving love in our hearts–death of our soul, not being allowed into Heaven,
  • became inclined to sin and weak–gained concupiscence (desire for sin); without God’s grace moving our thoughts, words and actions, we will constantly desire sin and never truly desire God alone. Every sin we commit weakens our ability to make good choices (rejects grace) and now we are even more prone to sin.
  • lost some knowledge of what is truly good–all sin reduces our union with God, therefore it decreases our knowledge of what is good and The Way to Eternal Life,
  • suffer and die–all sin (from the least to the greatest), from God’s justice, is punished on earth, and in purgatory (if not atoned for) or Hell (if not completely forgiven).

However, even though we are now deprived of some of God’s love and can no longer truly love Him, have become inheritedly weaker, are suffering and suffering from our sins, and have lost our right into Heaven, God wants to take away these consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin so we can one day delight with Him in Eternal Paradise.

God’s Promise

Once Adam and Eve received their horrid punishment for their sin, God also gave them their solution–a Savior–that will come and take away their sins [remove the consequence of sin].

“I will put enmity [an enemy of sin] between you [the serpent–sinful man–who is slave of the evil one] and the woman [sinless Mary], and between your offspring [of sinners] and hers [the Savior to be born]; They [Mother and Son] will strike at your head [trying to crush sinful man’s desire for sin], while you [sinful man] strike at their heel [trying to prevent Mother and Son’s feet from crushing the serpent]” (Genesis 3:15). 

What a great promise of help! But Adam and Eve’s assistance didn’t come during their life time. 

Therefore, even if Adam and Eve were able to move their conscience into obtaining a truly humble contrite heart for every sin–from the first to their last–without the extraordinary helping grace of their Savior and could be forgiven for their actual sins by God, they still would need Jesus to have their sanctifying (saving) grace restored–since “He [God] expelled the man…[from] the way to the tree of life [Heaven]” (Genesis 2:24). Therefore, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law [who are being punished by the law], so that we might [if we accept His grace] receive adoption [and be welcomed into Heaven as His children]” (Genesis 4:4).

So, Adam and Eve didn’t go to Heaven when they died, but if they had true contrition, they went to Abraham’s Bosom (cf. Luke 16:22) as they waited for their Savior to come and restore their saving grace so they could be purified by His Blood and enter into Heavenly bliss. 

I do want to mention it wasn’t as hard for Adam and Eve to relent their desire for sin back during their time as it is today…Today we suffer greatly from the compiling effects of ansesterial sin and have great longings and desires for sin as a result. Without having the Holy Spirits helping grace, I don’t see how anyone can relent their great desire for sin today and have true contrition for all of their sins upon their death.

However, if Adam and Eve still lacked the basic requirements to avoid eternal punishment–true contrition for all of their sins–then they chose Hell for all eternity upon their death.

“A contrite [sorrowful] spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn” (Psalm 51:19).

God of Justice

Since God is a God of mercy and justice, for the consequence of sin to be removed, it must be paid for. The finite punishment we have upon earth simply isn’t enough to atone for the infinite injury sin causes God. We are greatly sinful, fallen creatures, who can’t do anything truly good. Therefore, we can’t properly pay for even the smallest crime committed against Perfection…because without God’s help everything we do is quite imperfect and tainted with self-love.

So, God promised to send a Savior, unblemished and perfect, who would pay the insurmountable price for our sin so we can regain our union with God’s love and the hope of Eternal Life.

But even when Jesus left Heavenly Bliss and became His own creation–a mortal man–to suffer and die to pay our punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin and all of our actual sins (sins committed before our baptism), as horrible as this is, from our inclination to sin, we–everyone who matures and gains full knowledge of right from wrong--rejects that marvelous gift of sanctifying grace, unless we can somehow acquire enough grace to never lack true sorrow for a single sin. (The lack of contrition rejects saving grace).

“Thy death will not save me, if I do not on my part detest every evil and have true sorrow for the sins I have committed against Thee.”

–St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church 

Truly, from our great desire for sin, everyone rejected God’s free gift of eternal life when we are very young (if we were baptized then) because we simply didn’t care enough that we were sinning and lacked true contrition for some, if not all of our sins. It takes a great desire to want to repent and amend…to truly hate our sins and truly want to stop committing every single offence–strive for perfection as God commands– but we can clearly see from our youth, we didn’t have that kind of faith, as our repeated habitual sin prove. 

Honestly, how can we truly hate any sin if we are committing it over and over again with no restraint, when God’s transforming grace is waiting to remove our desire for that sin?

That is why Jesus came…to take away our desire for sin, so we can desire Him alone. But we have been deceived by the evil one, and believe a lie and are complacent with our sinfulness suffering from the presumption of salvation. 

We have to constantly go to Our Lord for the grace to obtain this kind of faith–a real belief in God–His Word–as the way we must live to accept His saving grace. We can say we hate we our sins with our words and want His forgiving mercy, but if we want to see the truth, our actions prove our contrition is far from true and is rejecting His saving, forgiving grace. 

This is why we need a Savior…to give us–through His Holy Spirit–a truly humble contrite heart..not just for a moment but to have true contrition constantly present in our being…especially at the moment of our death so we can embrace God’s sanctifying grace and Live. 

But this kind of faith does’t happen for most over night, since we don’t accept much of God’s transforming grace. We have to learn how to hate what we love…sin from a little bit of grace at a time. And grow from an infant in the faith, who just recognizes Jesus as Lord into wonderful maturity in the faith that truly desires God and not some miserable sin. 

We must come to know, without true sorrow for each and every sin, we chose sin over God and reject Life for some horrid sin. We must mature into a saving faith to Live.

“[Only] those who have grown to maturity [into a saving faith] in the grace of God will find the joy of adopted children in the kingdom of heaven; those who have not grown to maturity [haven’t reached a saving faith] will become God’s enemies and, even though they were once his children [from baptism], they will be punished according to their deeds for all eternity.”

–St. Andrew Kim Taegon 

Therefore, Jesus didn’t just come to give us the free gift of Eternal Life, since from our inclination to sin, we just reject it, He came to TEACH US how to regain it back and maintain it within our souls…God came to save us from all of the consequences of sin.

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so if we choose to follow Him–His example and Word on how we need to live so we can truly reject sin, accept and maintain His gift of saving grace within our souls, and we will be saved by Him. If we follow Christ properly, we can spend eternity loving Him in peace. But that is only if we truly believe, His Word is The Way. Let’s follow It!

In order for us to do this successfully, since we are so weak from many many sins, Jesus also sent His Spirit to help us. What amazing mercy! Grace upon grace is waiting to help us follow Christ to Heaven. We simply need go to God, especially in His sacraments of His Holy Catholic Church which He established to help us, strive to obey God’s Word perfectly and say “yes, Jesus I will ‘deny himself [deny myself of the worlds pleasures] and take up his [my] cross daily [love whatever suffering you allow me to bear knowing it is truly the Way] and follow me [truly live Your Word]'” (Luke 9:23).

Boy do we need MUCH helping grace to teach us how to hate all of the sins we love and to come to even know what they are. Truly, our desire for sin is sadly so great since it grows and grows with each sin we commit. Unless we are working with God’s grace to stop sinning and have repented of them, we commit them unreservedly and desire many many sins. Even if we are working to become a self-sacrificing saint, it takes much helping grace and much time to truly reject all sin (not habitually commit any sin) and chose God. But we must know the desire for a single sin rejects God’s union with us; it is a mortal sin.

“The souls in hell having been found at the moment of death with a will [desire] to sin [any sin], have with them an infinite degree of guilt; and the punishment they suffer, though less than they deserve [because of the infinite degree of guilt from one sin], is yet, so far as it exists, endless.”

–St. Catherine of Genoa

We must run to God daily in order for us to grow in faith to gain enough of His helping grace so our hearts can soften, and we can become a new man who truly rejects all sin. Then we can desire God alone and be saved by His saving grace He died to give us.