Should we hate sin? Absolutely! Psalm 97:10 makes this plain: “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!” That’s simple enough. Right? But why should we hate sin?
God’s Glory is Supreme
This first reason to hate sin takes supreme precedence. God’s salvation narrative more than anything is about his glory. He is a glory hound who does not share with anyone or anything. His collective attributes give us confidence that His glory is for our good. He’s righteous, so seeking glory is His righteous pursuit. He’s holy, so seeking glory is His holy pursuit. He’s beautiful, so seeking glory is His beautiful pursuit. We must trust this because, well, He’s trustworthy!
This being the case, then our aim is to maximize God’s glory. The sinfulness of sin by design is a barrier to it, one that ultimately is overcome at the cross of Christ. Yet, until He returns and puts sin to death, we await and minimize sin’s work to foil God’s glory. We do this by seeking His glory and running from sin. The supremacy of God’s glory should evoke us to loathe sin.
Christ is Beautiful
Another reason to hate sin is because Christ is beautiful. Understanding the beauty of Christ begins by putting it in the context of his love for us. Reciprocal affection makes anything more lovely. This is the case with Christ. We love Christ because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19). The oft quoted verse, John 3:16reminds us that Christ’s love brings life, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works has been carried out in God. (Jn 3:19-21)
When Christ is found lovely, then we will despise the darkness of sin and come to the light of Christ. His loveliness stirs us towards his holiness. David Wells says in God in the Whirlwinds:
We have been thinking about the heart of sanctification, its very core, as consisting in loving God and loving our neighbor. These twin loves, these two commandments, are at the same time an expression of holiness. God’s character is that of holy-love, and that is what the Holy Spirit is working to restore to us through the process of sanctification. (Kindle loc. 3065)
Do you find Christ so beautiful that sin is despising? You must. Jesus’s loveliness should move us from sinfulness towards holiness.
Sin’s Ugly. So Is Its Outcome
If finding Christ to be beautiful isn’t enough to instill malice for sin, perhaps the ugliness of sin and its outcome will.
Have you read the Portrait of Dorian Gray? Oscar Wilde’s portrayal of sin is haunting. Dorian Gray, the main character, is a handsome man who loves sin. He lives his life without feeling sin’s mar. How? His friend Basil Hallward, whom he later murders, paints a beautiful portrait of Gray in his youth. That portrait bears the burden of Gray’s sin. Gray lives his life freely indulging every desire while remaining flawless and untouched by his choices. He becomes a murderer, a cheat, and a hypocrite. In the last chapter, he looks at the hideous portrait that was once beautiful and sees how loathsome he really is. He takes the same knife with which he murdered the painter and stabs the portrait. The stab slays Dorian Gray.
Sin is ugly and always leads to death. Paul says that sin produces death in us (Rom. 7:13). That’s our outcome. Oscar Wilde, an indulgent, sensual man who himself died of syphilis understood this well. The ugliness of sin and its outcome should cause revulsion of it.
Satan is Our Great Enemy
A final reason to despise sin is because Satan is our great enemy. Satan prowls about like a roaring lion: devouring, scheming and ensnaring saints into sin (Eph. 6:11; 1Tim. 3:7; 1Pet. 5:8). Why does he do this? He wishes to thwart and thieve God’s glory at every turn. Satan can’t have glory to himself. He failed that conquest and ever since – notably in the Garden of Eden – he attempts to rob God of glory.
Do you view Satan as your great enemy? He is actively bent against your holiness. In the Christian in Complete Armour William Gurnall says, “When the Christian is a praying, then Satan and the flesh are a prating.” By “prating” he means that our enemy tries to out shout our prayers and drown them out with his chatter. He does not want you in close communion with God, and every time we give into sin, Satan wins.
And We Don’t Want That
We don’t want Satan to win; we don’t want sin to win. We want God to get the glory, and Christ to be viewed as beautiful. Therefore, we must loathe sin. Then it will not have any corner of our heart and ever square inch will belong to God.
Joey Cochran, a ThM graduate of Dallas Seminary, is the church planting intern at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois under the supervision of pastor Joe Thorn. You can follow him at jtcochran.com or @joeycochran.