Jehovah`s Witness/Payment for sins

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QUESTION: Greetings, and thank you for being willing to answer questions about your faith.  As you may know, Christendom believes that Jesus Christ died for the personal sins of those who accept his sacrifice, repent from their sins, and follow God's commandments.  Therefore they believe that Christ paid the ransom for their personal sins and not just the inherited sin of Adam.

Please correct me if I am wrong.  Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus died for the corresponding ransom equal to the inherited sin of Adam but not for the personal sins of each Christian.  They also believe that personal sins are only paid through the death of the person.  Both sides agree that personal sins make a person unrighteous and that anyone who is unrighteous will not see the kingdom of God.

What I don't understand is how, in the Jehovah's Witness belief, a person who lives through Armageddon and the Millennium without ever dying can see the kingdom of God without ever paying for their sins.

Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: Hi, Adam,

That is a very interesting question, and you seem to have some idea about what we believe, so that is a start. I am not sure what the churches believe on this, but in my ministry I have heard different ideas expressed, but this is not a common discussion with people I meet.

This is also something I have not put a lot of study into. My main focus has always been to follow the teachings of Jehovah and the leadership of Jesus, try to live up to what they tell us we should do, pray for holy spirit and the help to cultivate its fruitage as described in Galatians 5:22, 23 .

If I do that perfectly I will not commit a sin. However, since I am not perfect, I do commit sins for which I need forgiveness. I will try to keep this simple, and of course you are free to follow up or ask for clarification.

Basically, the ransom sacrifice and atonement is the same thing. We read that Jesus gave himself as a “corresponding ransom.” in 1 Timothy 2:6 . (NWT) Many translations just say “ransom” which while true falls short of the Greek word used, antilytron (from anti, “against; in correspondence to; in place of,” and lytron , “ransom [price paid]”). Compare Matthew 20:28 , where in Greek the word is lytron , or in English, just “Ransom.” It was a corresponding ransom because it had to cover exactly that which was lost by Adam.

So, what about the atonement? The English word “atonement” is derived from the expression “at one” and, as applied Biblically, means a covering of sins. In the Hebrew Scriptures terms pertaining to atonement appear many times, especially in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. Kaphar is the Hebrew word for making atonement, and probably it originally meant “cover,” though “wipe off” has also been suggested.

Man is in need of sin covering, or atonement, due to inherited sin (1Kings 8:46; Psalm 51:5; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23 ), responsibility for which rests, not with God, but with man himself. (Deuteronomy 32:4, 5 ) Adam, who lost everlasting life in human perfection, bequeathed sin and death to his offspring (Romans 5:12 ), and Adam’s descendants therefore came under condemnation to death. If humankind was to regain the opportunity to enjoy everlasting life, then, in harmony with a legal principle that Jehovah later included in the Mosaic Law, namely, that like must go for like, exact atonement would be required for what had been lost by Adam. — Deuteronomy 32:4, 5 19:21 .

As used in the Bible, “atonement” has the basic thought of “cover” or “exchange,” and that which is given in exchange for, or as a “cover” for, another thing must be its duplicate. Thus, anything making satisfaction for something that is lost or forfeited must be “at one” with that other thing, completely covering it as its exact equivalent. There must be no overlapping and no coming short. No imperfect human could provide such a covering or atonement to restore perfect human life to any or all of mankind. (Psalm 49:7, 8 ) To make adequate atonement for what was forfeited by Adam, a sin offering having the precise value of a perfect human life would have to be provided. So we see that the ransom is basically synonymous with atonement. (Most of the last 3 paragraphs are from the article on Atonement in volume 1 of Insight on the Scriptures. )

So now no matter how “good” I am, I will eventually grow old or get sick, and die, or perhaps it may be an accident or something. In any case I am moving toward the Grave. But as you point out due to the ransom sacrifice, I can be forgiven of the sin I inherited from our first ancestors.

But what about individual, personal sins that one may commit? Well, first we need to know why they do that. Sometimes it is out of ignorance; they know no better. Sometimes it is due to imperfection, thus leading us to do or say things we do not want to do or say. Again, since such sin is related to inherited imperfection, then the ransom / atonement covers these as well (if we repent and confess our sins to Jehovah, and put them behind us.) See Romans 7:14—25 . To show that these personal sins are indeed covered by Jesus’ sacrifice please read Acts 13:38, 39 . Some willful, deliberate sins will never never be forgiven; Jehovah and Jesus are the ones who decide this. (Matthew 12:31; Hebrews 6:4—6; 1 John 5:16 )

In addition to that we have paid for our sins at when we die, as the Bible helps us to see with such passages as Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:7, 23 .

Now, finally to get to your question: “What I don't understand is how, in the Jehovah's Witness belief, a person who lives through Armageddon and the Millennium without ever dying can see the kingdom of God without ever paying for their sins.

Most of what I wrote above was our position of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as it relates to our sins. I included a small amount about how our own death relates to our sins.

I cited Romans 6:23 above, where we read “For the wages sin pays is death.”  But that is not all, for it continues: “The gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” But how can we have this life through him? Again, it is by means of his sacrifice.

Death is required in order that we may be forgiven, but notice, it is not necessarily our death: “We behold Jesus , who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man .” — Hebrews 2:9 .

All those who died, although their past sins were forgiven as per Romans 6:7 , and who are resurrected, are still facing Adamic death until they exercise faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and come to know he and his Father Jehovah, and align their lives in harmony with their requirements. (Isaiah 26:9, 10; 65:20; John 3:16; 17:3; Hebrews 5:9 )

I hope this answers your question and was not too much reading!

http://www.jw.org (our official website)
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/h/r1/lp-e (online library)
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200000461 (article on atonement)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you!  It kind of answered my question and kind of didn't.  I think I understand what you are saying regarding the ransom sacrifice and the atonement, but I still don't see how it applies to people who live through Armageddon and the millennium.  If the wage of personal sins is never paid with death, how can they ever be deemed righteous and able to see the kingdom of God?  I am having trouble understanding this concept.  The verse that you brought out (Hebrews 2:9) appears to suggest that Jesus paid for the personal sins for everyone, so I do not understand in what context you use that verse.  Can you please help me to understand this further?

Answer
Hello again Adam;

I guess I did include a lot of explanatory information. This one will be shorter.

Except for certain ones who can never be forgiven, when we die we pay for our sins. (Romans 6:7, 23 ) However, our death does not grant us freedom from inherited sin when we are resurrected; that is where Jesus’ sacrifice comes into play. Note that in every case, except Jesus himself, when someone was resurrected they eventually died again.

The Scripture to which you refer says:

“We behold Jesus , who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man .” — Hebrews 2:9 .

So although “the wages sin pays is death” for those who survive Armageddon it is not their own death but that of Jesus which pays for, as you surmise, their personal sins. Note the part above that is underlined .

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Abdijah

Expertise

I will try to answer any question that can be answered from the Bible. I cannot answer questions about personal experiences someone may have had,as I was not there. Sometimes these are true; sometimes they are not. It is not my place to speak of that of which I have no knowledge.

Experience

I have been one of Jehovah's Witnesses since mid-1979. I actually studied for several years before that, and was rather critical. However, while that is not the wisest course, it did give me insight into the thinking of opposers of true worship.

Organizations
The Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Publications
Newspapers published by Gulf Coast Media.

Education/Credentials
In addition to basic education, and some work-related college level courses, I have been on the Theocratic Ministry School since 1978. I have also attended a number of sessions of the Kingdom Ministry School.

Awards and Honors
My greatest honor is to be a servant of the Most High God, Jehovah, and a preacher of the Good News of his Kingdom under Christ Jesus.

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