Does Sin Separate us from God?

Sin-separates-us-from-godDoes sin separate us from God? How could one be separated from an omnipresent God? If you try to think of a scripture that states “sin separates you from God” (or something like it), you will have a hard time.

If sin separated us from God, wouldn’t that mean that there isn’t much hope? We would have been stuck in our sins forever. Plus, if I was really separated from God, then I suppose I could keep on sinning anyhow (God isn’t around to see it happen, right?).

There may be some theological reasons for thinking that sin separates us from God. For example, God is holy. The word holy does (to some extent) connote “separated.” However, God is not holy in the sense that God is separated from sinners. God is holy as one who confronts us (separate), but primarily as one who blesses, restores, and helps. As the Holy One, God reaches out (not separate!) and overcomes sin through the reconciling work of the Son as well as the sanctifying work of the Spirit. God is holy in relation to his people—the Redeemer is “the Holy One of Israel” (e.g., Isa 47:4).

I say all this simply to highlight that we have to significantly qualify what we mean when (or if!) we ever say that sin separates us from God.

There is a sense in which sin does separate us from God. In fact, Isaiah 59:2 says, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (similarly, Eph 2:12 and 4:18). However, when we look at the context of this verse in Isaiah, we know it is not literal: verse 1 speaks of God’s hands and ears and verse 2 speaks of God’s face. This indicates that the biblical author is using metaphorical language in these verses.

Therefore, “separation” between God and humanity is metaphorical. We are only separated from God relationally. Most of us understand what this means. I can even be sitting right beside someone with whom my relationship has (in a sense) been cut off! Similarly, Isaiah 59:2 explains how this “separation” from God means that God is not responding positively to the Israelite’s prayers; metaphorically speaking, God “does not hear” them (v. 2). It certainly does not, however, mean that God does not love them (John 3:16!), as a human relationship “separation” might imply.

So, sin separates us relationally from God. But if we don’t make clear what this “separation” means (and doesn’t mean!), people might end up with unfortunate misunderstandings regarding their relationship with God.

You might also be interested in my post, “Is God For You…Not Against You?

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21 thoughts on “Does Sin Separate us from God?

  1. Thanks for this. I have been disturbed by teaching that (becaue God is Holy and Just) our sin separates us from Him – so your points are very welcome.
    I think that a stronger rebuttal is to consider the Incarnation. If Sin truly separates us from God, either Jesus was not Devine or he met no sinners in Galilee.

  2. God has promised that He will never leave or forsake us. However, God is a holy God, and sin creates a division-like a rift in the relationship. When you live your life completely in sin, without trying to follow Him, you are turning your back on God, and you are basically walking away from God. He’s still there, He hasn’t left, even when you’re going through the darkest times, even when it might be your own fault. But He’s waiting for you to turn back, wanting you to turn back to Him.

  3. Your explanation is yet another contemporary application that misses the mark. If we teach and preach a watered-down gospel, an everybody is good despite the wrong that they do word, it only causes some to remain in their sin and trespasses. Isaiah’s prophecy was largely to the remaining nation of Judah (as the superscription in chapter 1:1 shows the Kings of JUDAH (the Southern Kingdom) The Northern Kingdom was destroyed in 722 BC because of their sin–conduct that separated them from God. Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke to the nation of Judah indicating they would see a similar fate–which did occur in 586 BC–a result of the separation. Yes, we can state God is omnipresent and is always around us but there is a need to interject the way of repentance as the means of avoiding separation from God. Yes, Paul argued that the remnant of Jews still had the opportunity to come to God (Romans 11:29) but let’s be sure to give the word that change or transformation is necessary for this ideal.

  4. true that,even the bible says;nothing can separate us from the love of God (romans8:35).when it Say ‘nothing’,it means nothing and that’s a fact,Jesus even says that whatever sheep is in his hand cannot be snatched by anyone(john10:29).Sin was defeated on the cross,so yet it’s powerless

    • It says the LOVE of God. That’s so true. That’s why it hurts him so to have to send us to hell for our sins. In reality the question-is salvation garenteed? It’s a yes no answer that is why there is two sides of the debate. People try and decipher the meaning behind the meaning of the verses. Study on what sends a person to Sheol or hell. You will find there are no exclusions like well if you have Jesus or this is only for those who wear red- no it said those who do —- will not inherit the kingdom of God. We can take His word for it can’t we? I mean it is His word right? Not ours? May God turn His face towards you and may His glory shine upon you andHe bless you with His knowledge His wisdom and His understanding of His word amen..

    • Not disagreeing with you, just that in the Scripture Romans 8:38-39, it mentions nothing shall separate us from the love of God, the long list of things that will not separate us from the love of God, strangely does not mention sin. It does not say nor sin. I actually probably believe in once saved always saved, yet I know we cant continue in sin, and why isn`t sin mentioned as one of the things that wont separate us from the love of God, everything else but is mentioned

      BTW I am not arguing the other side at all, just saying.

  5. Until we return to the thought pattern as scripture states God is not a man,nor is god the son of a man that God should lie.mother is the giver of all life,therefore honor the life she give.

  6. What about a Person that truly becomes a Christian, asks Jesus into their heart, say at the time they were an alcoholic, the person after a number of years falls back into the drinking, is so filled with guilt, confessing his sin weekly promising to not do it again, but is back in the cycle again, keeps reading The Word between binges, thought of condemnation…just an example

    Does this person separated from the love of God because of their back sliding? Ok maybe not drinking but lust, do backsliding Christians lose their salvation? The Scripture mentions everything speaking of Romans 8: 38-39, but never uses the word sin… if sin does not separate us from God, why is this scripture not specifically mentioning sin as one of the things that does not separate us? Seems it would have been so easy to say

    Can a person fall away and be removed from the Book of life they were once in?

    • God demonstrates His love through giving mercy. John 3:16 demonstrates “God so loved the world He gave”. If you are abiding in Christ, you will not have the desire to sin and practice it. 1 John 3:6 “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” God’s grace isn’t a license to sin, but empowers us to live holy lives of righteousness through HIs grace of the Holy Spirit, to where our desires are completely changed. This comes through complete surrender and dying to self, for the sake of living through Him. The more of ourselves we empty, the more of Him we get.

      Once saved always saved is a lie, as 2 Peter 2:20-21 states “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” Jesus also states in Matthew 7 how many will say Lord Lord, and He will say “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness (sin).

      He is a loving God that is quick to forgive us, no matter the situation (unless we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit which you see in Act Chp. 5), but The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. There are many Christians bound by the devil because we get too comfortable with God and our sin.

      The Lord changed my life 3 years ago when I gave my life fully to Him, and completely changed my desires where I loved sin now I hate it. When sin has occurred, it grieves my heart and true repentance would be birthed through it. He’ll never leave nor forsake us and disappear into the wind, but we can leave and forsake Him by our actions of disobedience. We must know who we are in Him, and when we fully believe the work Jesus completed here on earth and how much God really loves us, with our eyes locked on Him: the love of this world dies and the love of God lives.

      • For starters I did not say if I was speaking for myself, someone else, or simply hypothetically , but let me just make this observation to your apparent self righteousness … PRIDE COMETH BEFORE THE FALL, none of us are above falling.

  7. Thank you for this, it helped me with some of my fears. I was, and still a little am scared that God doesn’t love me. That he would stop listening to me.

  8. Lack of love, you know when you are seperated , it is horrible nothing compares with it, life without love is hell, I know I am there, not being able to repent with a sincere heart, feel like I am already dead, never learnt anything