Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
God Hates Sin
May 2012

          The title of this message raises a question which I will answer first.  The question is; “can God hate?”  The answer is an unequivocal; yes!  Notice:

  Psalm 5:5: “The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity.”

  Psalm 11:5: “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”

  Leviticus 20:2: “Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I shall drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.”

  Proverbs 6:16-19: “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: (17) Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, (19) A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”

  Hosea 9:15: “All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels.”

            These verses are clear are they not?  Do they make you feel uncomfortable? They should. God hates sin!  But, He does not punish sin, He hates sin! He punishes the sinner; but does not hate the sinner.  Why does he punish the sinner? Because sinning is rebellion! It is rebellion against God.  Rebellion stems from our hearts. It is rebellion which makes one choose to break God's Law. Rebellion occurs inside the heart and mind of man and as a result man lifts himself up to the place of equality with God and therefore, God must punish that sinner. God is both holy and just and the person who sins by presumptuously assuming the position of God offends God.  God's Holy and Just character will not allow Him to ignore this rebellion.

            Do you remember the temptation of Eve (cr. Genesis 3)?  The devil offered Eve a chance to be like God.  It was a false offer with no merit but that was the prize Eve was after and henceforth the prize all men still now seek.  Notice: “Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. (3:5) For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Man to this day still plays the role of God determining that which he believes is good and evil; each constantly changing to fit his own fleeting desires.  So can there be any question regarding God’s hatred of sin?  Absolutely not!  Commandment One – “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ref. Exodus 20:3).

            With that said let us examine God’s hatred toward sin.  First it would benefit us to discover exactly what “Sin” is.  Sin is any thought, word, desire, action, or omission of action, contrary to the Law of God.  In other words, any action when compared with that law is found to be contrary and therefore, defective. (Romans 4:15).  “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet. (8) But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead” (Romans 7:7-8).  Brethren understand that God is the only foundation of the entire Biblical revelation that we can only define sin by His values and standards.  These values and standards are entirely based upon His holy character. 

            If we are to truly understand the meaning of sin we must first understand the character of God for God’s character is the divine standard in which we discover what sin is.  For man not to sin therefore, the character of man must exactly emulate the character of God.  Peter’s command to us is “to be ye holy...for I am holy” (1st Peter 1:14-16). God is commanding us to be Holy; why?  For He is Holy! Simply put we are obligated to be like Him in all our ways, never wavering or missing the mark or standard He set.

            Holiness is an attribute of love which signifies that quality that leads one to seek and promote sinlessness by conforming to God’s moral law, or in other words His divine definition of what is right and what is wrong.  Seeing that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (cf. Hebrews 13:8), His definition of what is right and what is wrong never changes.  It is immutable!  Biblical scholars almost unanimously agree that holiness directly takes its meaning from what God is.  God alone is holy, and He is holy only in Himself!  Any holiness of man can only be drawn from Him through an intimate relationship.  To help us further clarify this point perhaps the term “God-likeness” should be used.  Holiness is God-likeness!  The extent that a person is God-like determines their holiness.  In other words, God’s character is “Holy” so must ours be!  “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (2) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

            If our thoughts or actions are in opposition to God’s standard, even in the smallest way, we sin; hence the reason why sin is called “ungodliness” or “ungodly.”  “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14b-15).  Sin is simply the inward state or habit of the heart and mind, which produces the outward conduct of our lives that is contrary to the righteousness of God, whether that be by omission or commission (Romans 6:12-17; 7:5-24).  Sin, as does righteousness, has a direct and undeniable effect, not only in the world around us, but also upon the one who commits the action; one for evil, the other for good.

            God holy character separates Him from all moral defilement and is hostile and in opposition toward it.  God sees all sin and it angers Him.  He cannot but do something about it.  God’s nature of love is to do and will the highest good for all His creation.  No other thought or action can possibly be at the center of God’s heart.  For God to think or do something based solely on His own gratification is unthinkable, for it is sin.  His nature is diametrically opposed to it.  One can not exist in the presence of the other.  Sin is out to destroy God’s divine desire for universal good and therefore, God hates it.  

            How do we know this?  Let me show you.  Solomon wrote this in Proverbs, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13). David wrote, “Ye that love the Lord, hates evil” (Psalm 97:10).  So how bad is sin in God’s eyes?  He required capital punishment for disrespectful children (Deuteronomy 27:16; Proverbs 30:17). He required the death penalty for adultery (Leviticus 20:10), and He measures even the desire for another woman as adultery (Matthew 5:28). He considers unjust anger and cruel words as murder (Matthew 5:21-26). And He counts violating only one precept of the law as breaking the entire law, for even one transgression is of infinite evil (James 2:10-11). 

            So again, how much does God hate sin?   The death of Christ sets forth in a most vivid and striking manner the evil nature of sin. Not all the judgments God ever inflicted upon man totaled up, or gave such an impressive description of God’s hatred for sin, as the sufferings and death of Christ. Dare I say that even the torments of hell are not so dreadful a demonstration of God's hatred of sin, as the agonies Christ suffered on the cross!  God knowing that no one could escape the punishment of sin sent His only begotten Son to be tortured to death in a substitutionary payment for man’s sin!  In the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, we clearly see God's hatred for sin, for He forsook His beloved Son, when the sins of all mankind were laid on Him (Matthew 27:46). God is able and willing to love His creation, only because He views them in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-6).

            It is a well known, understood and acknowledged fact that selfishness is sin. What is not so well known, understood and acknowledged is the understanding that selfishness is the whole of sin, and that every form of sin may be found birthed in selfishness, just as every form of virtue may be found based in love. Now, it is not my purpose at this time to prove that selfishness is the whole of sin. It is my purpose however, to help us understand the truth, that selfishness is sin.  Selfishness is a choice to self-gratify.  It is the preference of our own will to do the highest good for ourselves.  This choice is obviously sinful, for as we have shown earlier God’s nature of love is to do and will the highest good for all His creation, not for Himself.  Once a choice is made in order to achieve some kind of self gratification it is opposed to God’s nature and law and therefore, destructive and defective.  It is sin!   

            I believe that in no case is sin chosen for its own sake. We do not first say to ourselves that this action is sin therefore we choose to commit it.  The truth is that whenever any action is chosen to gratify self, it is sin. It is not the sinfulness of the choice itself, or the reason behind the choice that makes it sinful, but it is the gratification afforded by the thing chosen.  For example: stealing is sinful. But man’s will does not choose the sin of stealing just to steal but chooses it based upon the gain and/or gratification received from what is stolen.  We choose self gratification, not the sin, as an end.  Let me share a biblical example to help prove my point.  Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The eating of the fruit was sinful.  But the thing that she chose or intended was not the sinfulness of eating the fruit, but the gratification expected from the fruit. She fully expected to be like God therefore she ate and acted sinfully.  Selfishness is the foundation of sin.  Selfishness is the choice, not just for sin’s sake, but of self-gratification; self-gratification at its very heart is sin.

            To quote from Jonathan Edward; “That which a man chooses for his god he sets his heart mainly upon and nothing will so soon excite enmity as opposition in that which is dearest. A man will be the greatest enemy to him who opposes him in what he chooses for his god.  He will look on none as standing so much in his way as he that would deprive him of his god (Judges 18:24). Ye have taken away my gods and what have I more.  A man in this respect cannot serve two masters that stand in competition for his service.  And not only if he serves one he cannot serve the other but if he cleaves to one he will necessarily hate the other (Matthew 6:24).  “No man can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” And this is the very reason that men hate God.

            In this case it is as when two kings set up in one kingdom in opposition one to the other and they both challenge the same throne and are competitors for the same crown they who are loyal hearty subjects to the one will necessarily be enemies to the other.  As that which is a man's god is the object of his highest love so that God who chiefly opposes him in it must be the object of his greatest hatred.  The gods which a natural man worships instead of the God that made him are himself and the world.  He has withdrawn his esteem and honor from God and proudly exalts himself.  As Satan was not willing to be in subjection and therefore rebelled and set up himself so a natural man in the proud and high thoughts he has of himself sets up himself upon God's throne.  He gives his heart to the world, worldly riches, worldly pleasures and worldly honors they have the possession of that regard which is due to God.  

            The apostle sums up all the idolatry of wicked men in their love of the world.  1st John 2:15-16 “Love not the world neither the things that are in the world.  If any man loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.” And the apostle James observes that a man must necessarily be the enemy of the true God if he be a friend of the world.  “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” James 4:4.”[1]

            All the sin that men commit is what they do in the service of their idols there is no one act of sin but what is an act of service to their false god.  Therefore God opposes sin in them. He is in opposition to their idols and therefore, God opposes them in their service to them.  He does this in several ways.

1.      God openly declares His hatred for their idol worship and separates Himself from it.  He also recognizes how sweet their evil is to them (Job 20:12-13).  As a result God declares an infinite hatred of every act they do in the service of their false gods.  He declares himself to be a holy and a jealous God. For He is a God who is very jealous of his own honor and that He greatly despises giving that honor to another (cf. Exodus 20:3-5).

2.      God utterly forbids worshiping false gods!  In fact He demands not only to refrain from practicing any form of worship but a permanent parting between them and their gods and never again even consider their worship.

3.      His hatred is so intense against idol worship that God demands capital punishment for all engaged in the worship of false gods.  God threatens them with eternal damnation for they have departed from him and having chosen for themselves, other gods. He threatens them for the love they have in their hearts to cleave to false gods.  He abhors the worshiper for any degree of love which they have in their hearts to their idols.

4.      He declares that He will not tolerate any regard we have for them and has fixed eternal death as the wages of that regard. God will not release them from their guilt, He will hold them to their obligations and He will accept no atonement that they can make.  He will not forgive them for whatever they do in their false religion or to whatever extent they go or whatever tears they shed.  Nor will He accept anything they have to offer Him for their release from their eternal torment.  He requires them only to deny and renounce themselves of this evil and to abase themselves at His feet proclaiming their love for Him and Him alone.  This requirement comes on the pain of bearing His wrath for all eternity.

            There is nothing in all God’s creation that is more opposed and destructive to God’s plan for bringing the highest good to all His creation than selfishness. That being the case, how can God not oppose sin?  He can not!  It is absurd therefore, for us as God’s children recreated in the very image of God not to be totally opposed to sin and do all to eliminate it from our own lives and the lives of those around us.

            God is love. He must, therefore, be the unchanging opponent of sin – of all sin, in any form, or in any degree.  For us to fail in our opposition and purpose to destroy selfishness is to miss the mark or standard set by God and therefore, that “missing of the mark” is the purest definition given for sin. 

            Let me illustrate what is meant by this definition.  Imagine yourself as an archer shooting an arrow every moment of your life at a certain mark; the mark, in this case, is the standard of perfection established by God and demonstrated by Jesus.  Each arrow must hit the bull’s-eye or you have “missed the mark” this is the definition of sin!  Sin is “missing the mark!”          

            When we view sin in this light of truth, it vividly shows the absolute futility that man faces in trying to live a life without sin.  God’s word tells us in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (cf. Psalm 14:3, 53:3; Romans 3:10-12).  “We are all like an unclean thing and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  It does no good therefore, to compare ourselves to others, or keep a running comparison between our good actions and our bad, for we cannot escape the punishment due on account of even one of our failures, and be righteous in our own strength. This is by God's design, because only when we understand our weakness will we consider relying on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.  Think about this.  If God had another way to alleviate the punishment imposed on man due to his sin, would God have sent forth His only begotten son to suffer and die for our salvation?  Absolutely not!   “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21).  “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (27) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (28) so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:26-28).  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

            In conclusion, nothing except the humble, intimate and consistent fellowship with God which produces a constant nearness and an unceasing power of the living Christ can make it possible for you to understand fully what sin is and for you to learn to detest it as God does. Without this deeper understanding of sin, there will be no thought of acquiring the victory which is made possible for you in Christ Jesus, and will be produced in you by the Spirit. 

            Dear God, cause me to know my sin and teach me to tarry before you, till your Spirit produces your holiness to abide in me! 0 God, cause me to know my sin, and let this knowledge drive me to your promise that: “He that abides in Him sins not” (Ref. 1st John 3:6a) and to expect the fulfillment of this promise in me!


[1] Why Enemies to God, Jonathan Edwards, Section 3, Pg. 133

 

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