Day 232: Can God Look on Evil? (Habakkuk 1:13)

13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil,
and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
So why do you tolerate those who are treacherous?
Why are you silent
while one who is wicked swallows up
one who is more righteous than himself?

Habakkuk 1:13, CSB

Through the Bible: Habakkuk 1-3

I don’t think I could be friends with someone who has a white couch.

If you have a white couch, I mean no disrespect. I’m sure you are a lovely person. And to be fair, we could probably enjoy coffee together at Starbucks.

I just would never be comfortable in your house. I have this idea that people with white couches must be very clean and very aware of any dust or dirt in their house.

I would never drink Kool Aid with someone who had a white couch.

I would never come over and watch the game and eat pizza with garlic butter dipping sauce with someone who had a white couch.

And in my heart of hearts, I don’t think I would ever be invited to. I think that people with white couches look at people like me and say, “Why don’t we just meet at Five Guys?”

A lot of people have used Habakkuk 1:13 to portray God as a God with a big white couch. We have this idea that “God is too holy to be in the presence of sin,” and Habakkuk 1:3 is the only verse I can find that comes close to saying that (someone please correct me if there are other places). We’ve concluded that when Jesus bore our sins on the cross, God had to turn away, and that’s why Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (See Day 125: The Rabbi on the Cross).

And we do know that in the New Jerusalem, there will be no unclean or impure thing in the presence of God.

But does the Bible really teach that God can’t look on sin? Is that what Habakkuk 1:13 teaches?

I would argue that not only does the Bible not teach this, Habakkuk 1:13 doesn’t teach this. Don’t miss that this verse is in the context of Habakkuk complaining that God is “sitting idly by” (ESV) while wicked Babylon is attacking Jerusalem. The prophet is basically saying, “I thought you were too holy to tolerate sin. So why does it seem like you are tolerating sin?”

Think about it. If God is too holy to look on sin, how would He ever judge sin? If God is too holy to have sin in His presence, why did He continue to reveal Himself to sinful people. He sought out Adam and Eve immediately after the Fall. He spoke to Cain before AND after Cain killed Abel. He talked with Noah (a drunkard), Abraham (a liar), Jacob (a cheat), David (an adulterer), Solomon (a womanizer), Peter (a denier), Judas (a betrayer), and Paul (a murderer).

If God can’t be in the presence of sin, then he wouldn’t have talked to Satan in Job 1-2. In fact, He wouldn’t have talked to literally anyone in the Bible except for Jesus.

A blogger named Jeremy Myers put it this way:

God is not like a pristine white couch upon which no one can sit for fear of it getting soiled. No, sin cannot be in the presence of God because whenever God draws near to sin, the raging inferno of His love and holiness washes all sin away. God can no more be tainted by sin than the ocean could be dyed red with a single drop of food coloring.

“God Cannot Look on Sin?” by Jeremy Myers, on redeeminggod.org

Did you catch that? It’s not that God can’t be in the presence of sin. Its that sin can’t be in the presence of God! Light chases away darkness, not the other way round!

We can’t hide our sin from God. He knows everything about us. But we don’t have to be afraid to be in His presence. It is precisely because God can and does look on sin that He sent His Son to deliver us from it. When we bring our sin to God, He sends it away, not us! Yes, there will be a Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:12). But there is also a throne of grace, and we can approach it with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). It’s got the most stain-proof treatment in treatment in the entire Universe!

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