(iv.1.58.4 cont.) In the doctrine of reconciliation humanity is not only confronted with the positive side of the truths in Jesus Christ, but also the negative side of the truth of sin in the world initiated by humanity and its victim. By Jesus’ atoning work, God reconciles covenant breaking humanity to Himself by Himself. Consequently, the doctrine of sin is dealt with simultaneously and in conjunction to the doctrine of reconciliation. It is not of its own ontological identity as something that “exist[s] in and for itself” as a part of God’s creation; rather it is alien to the world (Rom. 5:12) and “exists and is in opposition to the will of God and therefore in opposition to the being and destiny of His creature”. Where God creates, sin destroys; where God says “yes”, sin says “no”; where God judges, sin serves. “In all its forms it exists and is only as that which negates and therefore as that which is itself negated, on the left hand of God, where God is saying Yes has already said No, where in electing He has rejected, where in willing He has not willed”. Sin is evil but it is also breaking the covenant and contradicting God, the rejection of the grace of God and therein the command to cling and the direction given; thus, sin is the denial of humanity’s true humanity.
Neither natural law nor a general idea of humanity can expose that humanity sins and transgresses and breaks the covenant with God. This fact and state can only be exposed by the Cross. The cross is the divine “Yes” to humanity in which lies the divine “No” to sin. The cross is the penultimate event that reveals humanity’s sinfulness. The Law fails to bring one to their complete understanding of their sinfulness, it is only by the Cross that one can be made perfectly aware of their transgressions against God and His covenant. Thus, the cross is The Law fulfilled, fully functioning in the way that the law was intended to do; the Cross is Law and Gospel. “It is in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the revelation of the grace of God that we shall necessarily perceive step by step both the fact that man is a transgressor and the nature of the transgression in which the contradicts the grace of God and for the sake of which he is decisively contradicted by that grace”. Barth’s understanding of the cross as Law does not fully contradict Luther. While, yes, in Luther there is a stronger dichotomy between Law and Gospel, it is impossible to say that one can cleanly go through the bible and mark off “law” and “gospel” (cf. JDK’s Post here). There is room for an understanding that to some the Cross can be law: for it rejects the transgressor and causes condemnation but it also accepts the person. The Cross does illuminate our need and emphasizes our terrible state apart from it. Where Barth will differ from Luther in this regard is that Barth identifies the law with the earthly Jesus who is the paradigm of God’s holiness, rather than, as Luther does, identify the law with the Old Testament Law.*