by Shea Oakley
God hates our sin primarily because of what it does to us. This is entirely consistent with a God who embodies sacrificial love for others. We use the Greek term agape to describe a love that is completely self-giving and supremely concerned with the welfare of its object. It is the kind of devotion that rejoices in the eternal wellbeing of the person or persons it embraces. This is the love of Jesus Christ for the human race; it is the love He made manifest in its purest form at Calvary. Sin destroys the lives of God's finest creation and He hates it as any parents would hate a sickness that leads to the death of their beloved child if left uncured.
This is not to say that God does not also hate sin, because it is the embodiment of our rebellion against His rightful rule. Make no mistake; sin incites His wrath as well as His concern and rightfully so. But there is sometimes a tendency for believers to only see this one facet of God's attitude towards human transgression. When we think of our Creator mostly as an offended being who angrily judges our offenses we end up with a very distorted understanding of His total motivation. We forget that He hates the sin in us because He loves us and is deeply grieved by the destruction that we, beings made in His own image, have brought upon ourselves.
In our daily battle with the flesh it is vital to remember why we are fighting. It is a temptation to try to turn away from sin only because we are afraid of the consequences. We sometimes believe that God is angered by our wrongdoing solely because it offends His righteousness. If we just try to shun sin in order to avoid His wrath we will ultimately fail in the effort. The Word of God tells us that it is His kindness which should make us desire to permanently turn from sin. We need to understand and embrace the truth that part of the reason God hates the evil in us is because He loves us, and watching what it does to us breaks His heart.
Much preaching in the Evangelical church today tends to be in the form of exhortation. There is, no doubt, a legitimate place for such sermons. The problem is that they are sometimes spoken in a spirit that leaves out the loving motivation of the God in whose name they are given. Whether consciously or unconsciously, some preachers and teachers often convey the message that God, in His holy wrath, will deal with us in our sin mostly out of a hatred of rebellion that challenges His authority. When we only see this facet of His passion against human transgression we do not grasp the entire truth as to why our Lord is so passionate.
It is vitally important for the children of God to know that He also abhors sin because He loves us and desires only the best for us. We have a Father who knows exactly what we need to become in order to know the deepest, most joyful, communion with Him. There is no higher good for human beings than to exist in perfect love with the One who so perfectly loves them. It is sin that prevents the Lover of our souls from lavishing that love upon us, and this is one of the reasons why He hates it so. God passionately loves His children and our sin gets in the way of our fully receiving that love.
If there is enough unrepented sin in us, we begin to sicken spiritually. Our souls, by our own will, start to wilt and the "cancer" of sin grows into a potentially fatal disease. Like a human parent watching a child die of leukemia, God knows the terrible pain of seeing one of His beloved children waste away. This is why he hates sin and it is also why we should hate it. Part of a dying child's pain is seeing what it does to his or her parents. In such cases children feel this despite the fact that the illness is not their fault. How much more should we feel the pain of the One who loves us most when we also know we are largely to blame for being sick in the first place?
Blessedly, the sinning Christian can, by knowing God's true heart towards him, find the right motivation for turning from sin. This is a cancer that, thanks be to God, is curable.