Day 233: Why Does God Hate Sin So Much? (A Spurgeon Snapshot)

Detail from facade of the Church of all Nations in Jerusalem, depicting Christ separating the righteous from the wicked in Matthew 25

Through the Bible: Jeremiah 41-45

So I sent you all my servants the prophets time and time again, saying, ‘Don’t commit this detestable action that I hate.’

Jeremiah 44:4

There is an old joke about a farmer who was asked what his preacher had preached about on Sunday. “He preached about sin.” said the farmer.

“What about sin?” asked his friend.

“He’s against it.” said the farmer.

We take it for granted that God is against sin. It is such a foundational principle that most people don’t even question it. It’s like asking why water is wet. Nevertheless, it’s worth thinking about, because if you don’t, Satan will be happy to supply you with some wrong answers. In fact, that was was the one of the first plays in his playbook. He told Eve that God forbade her to eat from the tree because He didn’t want people to be like Him: “God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God ” (Genesis 3:5).

If we don’t think about why God hates sin, we are tempted to conclude that what God calls sin is arbitrary– that maybe a thing is not intrinsically wrong, but that God just wants to test whether or not we are going to be obedient to Him. This was the error of the Pharisees, who obsessively followed the most minute detail of the law to prove they were more righteous than anyone else, and effectively made an idol out of the law itself:

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness.These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel!

Matthew 23:23-24

We need to think carefully about why God hates sin. In his commentary on Jeremiah 44:4, Charles Spurgeon gives two reasons:

  1. The nature of sin: In Verse 4, God describes sin as “this detestable action.” There are things that are self-evidently wrong. Actions that degrade and debase human beings are detestable to God. In the context of Jeremiah 44, the detestable action was idolatry. All worship of idols hurts people. The prophets of Ba’al cut themselves to try to please their God (see 1 Kings 18:28). The men of Sodom (Genesis 19:5) and the men of Benjamin (Judges 19:23) demanded that human beings be handed over to them as sexual playthings. King Manesseh sacrificed his own sons in the fire of Molech (2 Kings 25:6). We shouldn’t need government legislation to convince us that the taking of innocent life is intrinsically, inherently, self-evidently, obviously detestable.
  2. Sin’s effect on people: God hates sin because God loves people. Spurgeon writes that God hates all evil, all injustice, all wrongdoing, all immorality “because it is such an injury to us, his creatures. He hates it because it so grievously mars what he has made. Men and women, as God sees them, are rendered ugly through sin.

Spurgeon goes on to say that because of sin, God is driven to do what He does not like doing: judging sin. We know from Ezekiel 18:32, Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, and 2 Peter 3:9 that God wants everyone to be saved, and that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Because of this, Jeremiah 44:4 presents a picture of God pleading with his children, sending His prophets to warn them “time and time again” not to “commit this detestable thing that I hate.” Spurgeon writes:

It is such wondrous condescension on God’s part to thus plead with sinners. But the greatest wonder of it all is that God not only pleaded thus with people once; He did it many times: ‘So I sent you all my servants the prophets time and time again.’

Note on Jeremiah 44:4, Charles Spurgeon Study Bible

Oh, beloved, please understand this: God doesn’t punish sin because He hates you. God loves you, and so he hates sin!

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