The consequence of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. Christians ought to take every prudent step. We ought to engage the culture around us with Law and the Good News. We ought to seek to be a voice of wisdom and sanity in foolish and insane times but at all events, we must give clear witness to the truth of the resurrection and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ, who knows better than we what are the wages of sin. He voluntarily paid that price for all his people, even the death of the cross.
God’s holy Law says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all he law and the prophets” (Matt 22:37–40). In the garden, our Lord symbolized his law with one command: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16–17). The converse of that command is our Lord’s command to the young man in Luke 10:28, “Do this and live.” The Apostle Paul says that the “commandment promised life” (Rom 7:10).
Remarkably and, apart from God’s mysterious providence, inexplicably, rather than freely choosing obedience and its consequence, life, we freely chose disobedience and its consequence: death. And thus through th.e disobedience of one man sin came into the world and through sin, death (Rom 5:12). Scripture says that things became ugly. Genesis 6:5–6 say “Yahweh saw that the wickedness of humanity was great in the earth” so much so that “every intention of the thoughts” of our hearts were “only evil continually.” It became so bad that Yahweh was said to have repented, as it were—it is a figure of speech.
The sovereign omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, impassible God was not caught off guard—from having made us and “it grieved him to his heart.” Again, this is figurative language but the thoughtful reader takes the point of the narrative. Life was very ugly in those days. Yahweh resolved (as it were) to wipe out “the world that then was” (2 Peter 3:6) and, as it were, begin again and that is what he did. He redeemed a small remnant, a small church in Noah and his house. It was a sort of new creation after the fall.
As part of that new beginning, God promised:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth” (Gen 9:8–17; ESV).
Unlike the covenant that God made with Noah and his house, this covenant is cosmic in scope. It encompasses everything and everyone. He promised to restrain evil and the consequences of our sin until the final judgment flood. The next judgment will not be with water but fire (2 Pet 3:7–10). Until then, there shall be sin and death but only so much as God allows.
In 1924 Synod Kalamazoo of the Christian Reformed Church issued three points on this and related matters. In the 2nd point synod declared,
Concerning the second point, touching the restraint of sin in the life of the individual and in society, the Synod declares that according to Scripture and the Confession, there is such a restraint of sin. This is evident from the quoted Scripture passages and from the Belgic Confession, article 13 and 36, where it is taught that God through the general operations of his Spirit, without renewing the heart, restrains sin in its unhindered breaking forth, as a result of which human society has remained possible; while it is evident from the quoted declarations of Reformed writers of the period of florescence of Reformed theology that our Reformed fathers from of old have championed this view.
As bad as things can be in this fallen world, they are not as bad as they were in the days of Noah nor shall they be until our Lord Jesus comes. The God who spoke all things into being, who, in the second person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate for us and for our salvation, is restraining sin and its consequences.