Hope you are doing well.
The Bible is very clear that the law is legal and that salvation is legal. However, that is part of the problem. Just as sin is legal AND experiential, salvation is too.
Mathew 1:21 tells us that salvation is “from sin”.
I John 1:9 tells us about legal forgiveness and experiential cleansing both. Isaiah 53:6 tells us that Christ also took our iniquity to the cross as our substitute. So why would he do that?
I am going to address your comment on natural law as a part of this, but first I want to persue why Christ took our iniquity to the cross.
Genesis :31 tells us that everything God made was good.
In James 1:15, he tells us “do not err”. James is very concerned that what He tells us is understood. There apparently were misconceptions about God that some bad things come from Him. He says, “do not err”, “every good gift and every perfect gift comes from God”. There are many other places that say the same thing. Everything good comes from God, That also tells us, and the Bible supports this, that everything bad comes from Satan.
So what does this have to do with the conversation? That’s what is so important. Iniquity is more than just an experience.
John 3:16 is very important here it says:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not be punished by an angry God, but have everlasting life.”
There is a tendency to read it that way in Christianity, but the words used are “not perish”. Looking up the word “perish” in the original Greek does mean to perish. When someone is perishing they are ALREADY in the process of dying. They are not waiting for a punishment. They are already in process.
Notice what God says in the very next verse:
It tells us that God does not condemn, and That Jesus was not sent to condemn. So who is condemning man? We continue in verse 18: " he who doesn’t believe is condemned ALREADY. Now John just said that God and Christ do not condemn, judgment day is far in the future, but men that do not believe are condemned ALREADY. So again, how can man already be condemned thousands of years before the judgment? Going back to John 3:16, we see the word perish again. Sinful man is already dying. James gives us the roadmap:
James 1:15 tells us that “sin, when it is finished, bringers forth punishment from an arbitrary, angry God.” No, it brings death.
Here is the very simple concept. Sin is simply self- destructive behavior. We are already dying. Condemnation in the Bible is not a humanistic condemnation of others, it is a condition! Biblical condemnation is not the God is angry with us, but that sin is already killing us. So is it the act of transgressing the law that is killing us? No, it is simply an act. It is the iniquity that is killing us. Psalms 38 and Isaiah 53 are overwhelmingly clear on this. The woman caught in adultery, Jesus did not condemn her. He told her not to sin anymore because sin is self destructive and the iniquity would kill her.
So if we read the Bible through humanistic definitions, and only look at sin from a legal viewpoint, which does exist, then it is not difficult to see why we constantly view everything in the Bible relating to judgment from a legal perspective. An arbitrary set of legal rules can only be judged by a legal authority with an arbitrary judgment. But when we see sin in all of its ugliness, we can see a different picture. Yes, there is a legal battle going on, and there is a legal component to the judgement, but iniquity must also be dealt with in the judgment. It must also be dealt with in salvation as well.
Until we understand that sin is the act of transgressing God’s law AND self destructive behavior, we will not realize the difference between the two when we study. If we are looking for it, we will see it everywhere. Every time we see the word iniquity, we will see a completely different picture of sin.
What if God is not some arbitrary judge angry with us, but is actively trying to save us from the horrible iniquity of sin?