God vs. Sin

angry-god-1.jpgYesterday morning in Exponential2:2, the men’s discipleship group I lead, we talked at length about sin being first and foremostly a deep offense against God.  That it is only secondarily an offense against ourselves or against others, and always primarily an offense against God himself.

But even as one begins to grasp the fact that sin is always primarily an offense against God, it remains difficult (for me, at least) to imagine just how deeply offensive it is without some illustration or picture of God as offended.  I came across a good (or awful) illustration of it this morning in Leviticus 26:27-33, where the people of God are being warned by God himself concerning disobedience to God:

“But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.  You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.  And I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you.  And I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas.  And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it.  And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.”

We should move from this text to the Cross.  We should see God’s wrath propitiated at Calvary.  But not so fast.

If we jump too quickly from this text to the cross, we will cheapen it, rob it of its force, and ignore the very reason it was recorded for us in Scripture.  We are meant to linger here over the dead human bodies, stacked on top of the bodies of slaughtered animals.  We are meant to linger here over the ruined, devastated cities, and over the horror of the corpses of cannibalized children until we feel the weight of our sin and realize the massive offense it is to God.

Only when we have felt this will we behold the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ in all it’s dazzling glory.


18 thoughts on “God vs. Sin”

  1. I watched the news today and heard about a man who repeatedly stabbed another man next to him on a Greyhound bus in Canada, then cut his head off. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he apparently walked around with the head in his hands, and as he stared at people outside the bus, he dropped the head from his hands. What on earth!!! That news today was really, really disturbing to me. I have to tell you that that news today about the incident on the bus came to me as more shocking than the solemn words of God from Leviticus. Why? Is it because I am not in awe of the wrath of God? I think so. As you mentioned, Bryan, I am one of those who makes a beeline to the cross, where Christ paid it all. Not that that is always wrong. However, I do need to periodically remind myself of God’s utter hatred toward sin, even to the point of allowing fathers to eat their sons!! Thanks for the counsel to linger over God’s hatred of sin…my sin. Thank-you, Jesus, for paying that God awful price.

  2. Thanks Bryan. I spent some time this morning processing this and thinking about how often I minimize my sins. That is sobering, and this passage will help me to remember how God really views it.

    I am so thankful that Christ took on all the wrath that was meant for me. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!

  3. bryan – can i state the obvious for a moment? thanks.

    the last several posts on your blog have produced several hundred comments. i have been amazed at the amount of comments that have rolled in because of posts about guns and shit and candles to cover up the smell of both. comment after comment after comment.

    then, you post something about God and sin and…

    crickets chirping…




    what’s wrong with your blog audience? just sayin’

  4. ok, after thinking about it a bit – my last question was probably sin in offense to our Holy God. I confess and repent of the attitude of that question about your blog audience. still though, what gives? just sayin’

  5. Yeah, that tends to happen. I’m not sure some people know how to engage and comment on posts that hit a bit closer to home.

    That said: Where’s your comment on it? On the subject matter, that is.

  6. actually i did comment. i was sincere in my comment that i was convicted of what i said and understand that the way I said it was probably sin. i know that is an offense to our Holy God.

  7. My excuse is I was camping all weekend and computer/internet access is scarce in the woods. 😉

    Seriously though, be it right or wrong, and to elaborate on what Bryan said above, I think that there are few that would disagree that its much easier to discuss the shallow and/or silly and/or opinionated things than the deep stuff. I myself am oft guilty of this, but sometimes its because I don’t have anything better to add on the topic than what God (or whatever author, be it Bryan or D.A. Carson or whoever) has already written. Someone hit the nail on the head in the gun post about us “liking to hear ourselves talk” (I believe refering to all the opinions being debated) and sadly, isn’t that the truth? In addition, I’m one to mull these things over for awhile before having anything coherent to comment on, then usually everyone’s moved on to the next post by that time. And just because I don’t always have an insightful comment doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything out of it (this being the case here). Some days I’m up for being transparent and others not.

    So theres my excuse for not always commenting on the serious stuff, not that anyone asked for my 2¢ on the matter. I sure like to hear myself talk, eh? 😉

    That being said, I will remark that I thoroughly enjoyed this important reminder and simply let God’s Word soak in. 🙂

  8. I recently read three books which helped me better understand the utterly offensive nature of sin to God. The first two were first-hand accounts of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, one from the perspective of the surviving victims and one from the perspective of the killers. Needless to say, what was perpetrated in Rwanda against the Tsutsis was horrifying. The third book was one consisting of essays by four different theologians and their understanding of the wrathful God of the Old Testament. At least two of the theologians compared God’s destruction of the Canaanites to the Rwandan genocide, noting that God had the Israelites kill everyone, including children. Considering the fact that this wouldn’t have been some nice and painless ethnic cleansing but a bloody and painful slaughter of not just men, but even little babies (like what happened in Rwanda), it really emphasizes one of two possibilities. Either God is evil or sin is so amazingly awful that babies born into idolatrous societies deserve to be cut from their mothers’ bellies.

  9. “Babies born into idolatrous societies deserve to be cut from their mothers’ bellies.”

    Is “deserve” the right word here? When David laments of his “sinfulness” in his mother’s womb, can he really be implying that he had, before birth, already committed an offense against Holy God?

    Bryan, I know you and I talked this through once, but I don’t remember your conclusion.

  10. Now there’s a rabbit trail to pull us far afield… 🙂

    But I would like a discussion of that topic. On a related note, on what basis does the Church believe that babies/children who die before they can understand their sinfulness go to heaven? I mean, it is really nice to think, but where in Scripture is this taught?

  11. I thought the insight that Steve Sr. gave at the memorial service for Keilah Joi this past week was pretty compelling.

    He talked about the story of David (2 Samuel 12:15-23) grieving for his child who was only a few days old. He fasted and prayed for his child for healing form the Lord. The child lived for only 7 days and when it had died, David picked himself up and went and worshiped the Lord. Obviously, this made people talk and they questioned him about it.

    vs. 22-23
    He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I SHALL GO TO HIM, but he will not return to me.”

    To me-this answers that question, but I would love to hear Bryan’s insight as well.

  12. I tend not to comment on things when I’m almost certain I’m sitting off in right field alllllll by myself while all the Kool Kids are parading around home plate exchanging high fives and slapping each other on the butt.

    When I read this post, my first thought wasn’t along the lines of “Wow. God really does hate my sin, doesn’t he?” — I take that as a given.

    My first thought was: “How do I respond when people grieve me?”

    Something like: If God can be that completely and utterly P.O.’d and still find it correct to fix the relationship between him and me by a) taking the first step, and b) letting that first step itself be ‘painful’ to him, then what does that say about how I should respond to the (normally more minor) grievances I might have with someone.

    In other words, I read that post and thought “Man. I have so far to go in how I handle offenses against me.”

    Since that really wasn’t your point, I didn’t respond until Vince started complaining. 🙂

    -BMR (Who is confident enough in his manhood to settle for any quilt color)

  13. This is a sensitive subject, considering the recent loss of Keilah Joi, but I wonder if the story of David is really one upon which we can build a doctrine. After all, people in some cultures talk about a dying person going to “join his fathers” or something along those lines. That doesn’t mean that they will literally be joined (though in some cases it does) but that they will all be in the same state (dead). So when David said that he would “go to [his child],” he quite possibly meant that he will join his child in death, not necessarily that he will see him again.

    It’s quite comforting for parents and families to believe that they will see their child again, or at least that the child is peacefully in Heaven, but is that a Scriptural view? I look forward to PB explaining this issue.

    On a related note, is there Biblical evidence that we will continue human relationships in heaven? Or more importantly, will we even care about past relationships (even marriages) compared to the opportunity to worship God?

    1. Darius,

      I am no expert on this but have spent some time thinking about this issue. I find the greatest “evidence” for children going to heaven in the way that Jesus talks about them and refers to them. He says, “let the children come unto me” and he tells us that we “must become like little children” in order to enter the kingdom. He also give a very stern warning to “anyone who causes one these little ones to stumble”. I cannot state that due to this attitude toward children, that all children automatically go to heaven, but I think it is important to note.

      One additional question that comes to mind regarding children who die young: If we believe our Bibles (and we do!) then our election was made long before we existed. Can we say that a child who dies very young is not elect?


  14. Jack,

    In case you return to read a reply… while this topic is pretty old, you did make a couple comments which are worth addressing.

    First, when Jesus is speaking about causing “little ones” to stumble, I don’t believe He is talking about literal children but Christians. See Matthew 10:42 for more clarity on this matter. It’s really easy to think that Jesus is talking about children when he says “little ones,” particularly in Matthew 18 where an actual child is involved. But if we look closely at chapter 18, we see that Jesus first compares Christians to children, then presses that analogy further in discussing the peril of causing one such “child” to sin. The Greek word here for “little one,” mikros, also means “least” and can be found throughout the New Testament, but never talking about literal children. It’s best known as the word used to describe how Christians are to serve others and be the least rather than the first. It’s not a huge deal to interpret that Scripture incorrectly and I could be wrong, but it makes more sense with what we read in the rest of the NT to consider “little ones” as pertaining to followers of Christ.

    Two, your point about election being outside of ourselves as well as outside time and age is quite good. Our salvation is not dependent on our ability to understand it or have a really complex faith. God does the choosing and saves whom He will and that could be a 2 year old who can’t even quite talk or a 12 year old mentally handicapped boy or a 45 year old Harvard graduate. Now how that faith shows itself is obviously quite different (“to those who are given much, much is required…”). But ultimately, we know that salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit is independent of our own qualifications and abilities. John the Baptist, for example, leapt in his mother’s womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. So you are correct, we can’t say that a baby is not elect, but neither can we say that he is elect (unless we embrace univeralism) with all certainty.

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