Six Reasons to Hate Sin:

Putting Your Anger Where it Belongs

John 5:1-16

By Greg Wright

Preached at Grace Baptist Church on January 4, 2009



I. Introduction


Good morning, and welcome to Grace Baptist Church. We are continuing our studies in the Gospel of John. Today we will be looking at John 5:1-16.


The scene we find in this passage is of a large number of people who are suffering from various diseases and disabilities. They are gathered around a pool and waiting for a miracle. When we see large numbers of suffering people at once the sight can be overwhelming. It can lead to questions about the character of God and what we should expect from Him.


Consequently, many Christians have written about the Christian response to suffering. One of my favorites is John S. Feinberg of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a professor of Systematic Theology, and he also is the chairman of their Department of Biblical and Systematic Theology. I have found his book The Many Faces of Evil to be very useful. The first part of the book is philosophical, apologetic, and academic. However, towards the end of the book he becomes more pastoral, and he talks about the challenges his own family faced when they found out that his wife had a disease called Huntington’s Chorea. It is a genetically transmitted disease that destroys the brain and disables the rest of the body. Feinberg describes it this way:


It involves the premature deterioration of the caudate nucleus of the brain. Symptoms are both physical and psychological. On the physical side it involves gradual loss of control of all voluntary bodily movement. Psychologically, it involves memory loss and depression, and as the disease progresses, it can lead to hallucinations and paranoid schizophrenia. (448-449)


Feinberg struggled as he anticipated the horrible things his wife would have to endure in the years ahead – a ten to twenty year journey that eventually kills you. One of Feinberg’s friends wrote to him, and after his friend had expressed sorrow over the news about his wife he said to Feinberg, “I can imagine how angry you must be right now at sin.”


What do you mean by angry at sin? At first, Feinberg thought that this was a rather odd way of comforting someone. But later he wrote:


My friend was right. We need to see sin as God does, and hate it. When we see it from the perspective of where it ultimately leads, we begin to understand how truly serious it is and how much we must resist it. I can’t say this will be of great comfort to you. But it may help you to focus your anger in the right direction. It may also help you to feel more comfortable with God as you realize that ultimately all of us, not God, have brought these things on ourselves. God warned us, but we didn’t listen. Thank God that now in our troubles he will listen, forgive, and restore! (468)


Feinberg also wrote, “The main lesson to learn from this . . . is the enormity of sin and the need to hate it.” (467)


The need to hate sin – have you ever thought about that? Have you ever considered the possibility that we do not hate sin enough?  


I have seen this, even in my own life, and that is the reason for this sermon: that we would see the repulsiveness of the effects of sin and respond by hating sin more than ever before. As Feinberg says, this understanding of sin probably will not comfort us very much, but it will help us to channel our anger in the right direction. When horrible things happen, anger rises up -- anger that needs to be channeled somewhere, and people usually vent it against God. Instead, it should be vented against sin. Thus, the title for this sermon is Six Reasons to Hate Sin: Putting Your Anger Where it Belongs. As we look at the text this morning, John 5:1-16, we will discover six reasons for hating sin:


1.                 We should hate sin because of the suffering that sin causes.

2.                 We should hate sin because not everyone will be rescued from the effects of sin.

3.                 We should hate sin because the consequences of sin are even worse in the life to come.

4.                 We should hate sin because of the way sin prevents us from benefiting from the mercy of God.

5.                 We should hate sin so that we will stop sinning.

6.                 We should hate sin because it diverts us away from the display of the glory of God.


Let’s read  John 5:1-16:


1 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda , having five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] 5 A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" 7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." 9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, "It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet." 11 But he answered them, "He who made me well was the one who said to me, 'Pick up your pallet and walk.'" 12 They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Pick up your pallet and walk'?" 13 But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.

II. Six Reasons to Hate Sin.

A. Because of the Suffering That Sin Causes

This passage provides several reasons for hating sin. First, we should hate sin because of the suffering that sin causes. In verse three we read “In these lay a multitude of those who are sick, blind, lame, and withered.” The word multitude means great number. What a sad sight this must have been, masses of people, all waiting around a small pool of water, all hoping to be the one to be healed. But what caused their suffering?

Suffering has both an ultimate cause and a proximate cause. The ultimate cause of all suffering is the fall of Adam. Mankind is under a curse that includes suffering and death. Because of this curse, God permits various proximate causes of suffering. The word proximate means near.

Jay Adams in his book A Theology of Christian Counseling describes the cause of suffering in this way:

Suffering is universal because the fall and its effects are universal. All suffering may be traced back to Adam’s sin. Had Adam, our representative, not sinned, there would be no suffering; it was the result of God’s curse upon Adam and his posterity. But that does not mean that an individual’s suffering is the result of each individual’s own personal sin. (page 271)

We know of many proximate causes for suffering including: natural events, the cruelty of people towards one another, diseases, willful disobedience to God’s laws, and genetic defects.

Before Adam sinned there was no suffering, and there was no death. But once sin entered the world, the floodgates were opened up for every kind of suffering, even as we read in Romans 8:22, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” Even the innocent suffering of animals and the suffering of children who are not old enough to know right from wrong is due to God’s judgment upon our world as a result of Adam’s sin. God said we would die, and we have been slowly dying ever since the fall. Consider the masses of people who are suffering at this very moment: their loss of mind, their loss of control of bodily functions, their outcries, their perpetual sorrow, their groaning, their misery, and their despair. Surely this is reason enough to hate sin.

B. Because Not Everyone Will Be Rescued From the Effects of Sin


Second, we should hate sin, because not everyone will be rescued from the effects of sin. This is true with respect to both healing of the body and healing of the soul.


James 5:14-15 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

I personally know people who have been healed in this way. However, I also know other people who have sought their elders, been anointed with oil, and prayed in faith, only to remain sick. So not everyone’s body gets healed. This is certainly a reason to hate sin.

However, as urgent as it is that we be healed in our bodies, the healing of the soul is even more urgent. If the soul is healed, we can be assured that in the resurrection there will be a new body to replace the diseased one. But if the soul is not healed, even bodily healing is only of temporary value.


I am not convinced that the paralytic became a believer. Nevertheless, the manner in which he was healed, where Jesus selected him and passed over others, reminds me of the Doctrine of Predestination that we find in the third chapter of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. In paragraph three of that chapter we read:


By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.


God does not prevent the non-elect from responding to the gospel; He simply leaves them in their rebellion. On the other hand, for the elect, God rescues them from their rebellion by making them willing to respond. As a result of God’s decree and intervention, the elect will be used to manifest the glory of the grace of God, but the rest of the people will be used to manifest the glory of the justice of God. The word manifest means demonstrate. Now, all people have sinned through Adam, and God could have demonstrated His justice by condemning everyone. Instead, He has chosen to demonstrate his grace by electing some and to demonstrate his justice by leaving the rest to be condemned.


Since God is not obligated to save anyone, the fact that God passes over some people is not a reason to condemn God. Instead, it is a reason to hate sin.


C. Because the Consequences of Sin Are Even Worse in the Life to Come


Third, we should hate sin, because the consequences of sin are even worse in the life to come. In verse fourteen Jesus finds the man He has healed in the temple, and He says to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”


There is something worse than suffering in this life. There is suffering for eternity in Hell. What a tragedy, to get a brand new body in the resurrection only to have that body consumed in the flames of Hell.


In Luke 16:24 the condemned rich man cries out saying, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.”


In Revelation 20:15 we read about the judgment everyone will face who dies without Jesus:  “If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”


In that place, yes people will hate the sin that put them there. How much better to hate your sin now, while there is still time to repent!


D. Because of the Way Sin Prevents Us from Benefiting From the Mercy of God


Fourth, we should hate sin because of the way sin prevents us from benefiting from the mercy of God. Consider how this man in our story responded to God’s mercy. What a wonderful thing, to be supernaturally healed after being paralyzed for thirty-eight years. And he knew he was healed. Jesus was not some pretentious faith-healer who made people feel better about their belly-aches. When He healed people it was a real healing, and it was a thorough healing. The completeness of the man’s healing was fully demonstrated when the paralytic obeyed Jesus’ command to pick up his mat and walk.


But what benefit did this healing have on the man’s soul. There is no indication that he was converted. There is no evidence that he became one of Jesus’ followers. Instead, when the man was confronted about carrying his pallet on the Sabbath day, he blamed Jesus, resulting in Jesus being persecuted.


Jesus was also merciful to the people who knew about the healing of the paralytic. This healing is known as the third sign in the Gospel of John. By healing that man Jesus authenticated His message of salvation. Jesus revealed Himself, and this revelation was an act of mercy. However, instead of listening to Jesus, the people were distracted by their overreaching, man-made, Sabbath traditions, such as that trite command that forbade carrying a sleeping mat on the Sabbath. Because of their sinful attitudes, they were unable to benefit from the mercy of God when it was given. What a reason to hate sin!


E. So That We Will Stop Sinning


Fifth, we should hate sin so that we will stop sinning. Now, I acknowledge that we cannot completely stop sinning in this life, but the avoidance of sin will be our goal and practice if we are truly born again. Jesus wanted the paralytic to stop sinning. So it was that after Jesus had healed him, and having found him again, this time in the temple, Jesus said, “Behold you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you.” In Matthew 1:21 God’s Son was to be called Jesus, as Gabriel said, “For it is He who will save His people from their sins.”


Jesus came to save people from the penalty of sin, but He also came to save people from the power of sin. The primary ways in which Jesus saves us from the power of sin is by giving us a new nature and by filling us with the Holy Spirit. But there is another method that Jesus uses to make us more resistant against sin – he makes the thought of sinning hideous and repulsive to us. Sometimes He does this through the things we experience.


For example, I once knew a man who hated anything connected with alcoholic beverages. He despised for anyone around him to be drinking, even if they were doing it in moderation. Now, his attitude had nothing to do with religion. In fact, I’m not sure what he believed, since at the time I knew him, he was trying to pursue an affair with a woman who was already married.


Nevertheless, because he had grown up with an alcoholic father, and because he had seen the kind of suffering that an alcoholic father brings into the home, he hated alcoholic beverages. Whatever else he did that was wrong, he would never be tempted to become an alcoholic. The suffering he had experienced as a child had made him hate the sin of drunkenness.


Something similar happened with the people of Judea. By the time Jesus came the Jewish people most of them had no use for idols. Now, they had other problems. Nevertheless, they hated idolatry. But it took much suffering to bring the people to that point. In fact, one of the wonders of the ancient world is the stubbornness with which Judah continued to resist God and worship idols. Nehemiah 9:26-31 sums this up:


26 "But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, and cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to You, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 "Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, but when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. 28 "But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You; therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You rescued them according to Your compassion, 29 and admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, by which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. 30 "However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 "Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.


By the time we get to Nehemiah these people are repentant. They weep as they hear the law read to them. But look at what was required to bring them to this point!


How much suffering does it take to get people to hate sin enough to stop sinning? How much suffering does it take to get people to stop worshipping idols? In the case of Judah, it took the destruction of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and seventy years of captivity in a foreign land.


Jerusalem leveled, Solomon’s temple reduced to ashes, the people slaughtered and enslaved, is this not enough reason to hate sin? It was not enough to stop them from sinning altogether, but it was enough to stop them from worshipping idols.


But who would ever have imagined the amount of suffering the people of Judah would have to endure to make them hate idol worship? Remember this whenever you are tempted to believe that God allows too much suffering. Yet, what a reason to hate sin, that our hearts are so hard that it takes so much suffering to break our sinful habits!


F. Because it Diverts Us Away from the Display of the Glory of God


Sixth, we should hate sin, because it diverts us away from the display of the glory of God. Note that I said from the display of the glory of God. The glory of God is tied to His divine qualities. Since God’s divine qualities never change, His glory never changes. Nothing increases or diminishes the glory of God. So God is not out to get more glory.


In contrast, the display of the glory of God has changed and is changing. While God is not out to get more glory, God is out to increase the manifestation of that glory. God is out to make His glory known and understood. The need for this is obvious from the sad history of our world.


Lucifer was the most glorious being of God’s creation; yet, Lucifer collapsed into pride under the weight of his own glory and became Satan. Would this have happened if Lucifer had had a better understanding of the glory of God?


One third of the angels were led astray by Lucifer. Would this have happened if the non-elect angels had comprehended the extent to which the glory of God exceeded the glory of Lucifer?


I don’t know, but I wonder.


Even among humans, if Eve had had a better understanding of the holiness of God would she have doubted His goodness? If Adam had had a better understanding of the justice of God would He have been so nonchalant in the way he disobeyed Him?


I don’t know, but I wonder. Nevertheless, let me be clear that I am not suggesting that there was any defect in either Adam’s makeup or his training.


Adam had the best training there ever was – evening walks with God. Can you imagine that? He had the right teacher, he had the right environment, and he had the right nature. We sin because of our nature, but not Adam. He did not start out with a sinful nature. What better training and preparation could there have been for the test Adam would face? But he failed.


Do you see how easy it is for sin to arise? Sin is not a created thing. God decreed that sin would exist, but God did not create sin. God created all things, but sin is not a thing in the normal sense of the word. Other objects are perceived by what they are. Sin is perceived not by what it is but by what it is not.

·        Sin emerges when created beings fail to cling to the glory of God.

·        Sin emerges when perfectly created moral creatures cease to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

·        Sin emerges when we allow our minds to prefer our own glory to the glory of God.

This is part of the reason why God is so zealous for the display of His own glory. He doesn’t need it; we need it. God does not walk around gloating in His own glory the way a narcissistic human would. No, God exerts Himself to make his glory revealed, manifested, understood, loved, and cherished. He does this to turn us away from the allurement of the sin that would destroy us and to turn us towards the glory of God that will save us and preserve us and change us.


And how is this glory of God most clearly seen – through none other than our Lord and Savior and Preserver, Jesus Christ.


Nature reveals the glory of God, and the holy scriptures reveal the glory of God. But the greatest revelation of the glory of God is to be found in Jesus Christ, Himself. In Colossians 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” In Colossians 2:9 we read that all the fullness of Deity dwells in Jesus bodily.


The allurement of sin would detract us from the beauty of Christ. It would divert our eyes towards other things. But to whatever extent we remain focused on Christ, something wonderful begins to happen to us, as we read in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”


We are being transformed into the image of Christ – how – by beholding the glory of Christ. What do we find when we behold His glory.

·        Against the sin of being lifted up in pride we behold the humility of the Son.

·        Against the sin of rebellion we behold the obedience of the Son.

·        Against the sin of giving in to temptation we behold the perseverance of the Son.

·        Against the sin of doubting God’s word we behold the Son’s unconditional trust of His Father.

·        Against the sin of taking revenge we behold the forgiveness from the Son.

·        Against the sin of worldly ambition we behold the contentment of the Son.

·        Against the sin of man-pleasing we behold the honesty of the Son.

·        Against the sin of racism we behold Christ reaching out to the Samaritans.

·        Against the sin of class snobbery we behold Christ reaching out to the untouchables of His world.


When sin distracts us from the glory of Christ, it robs us of something all believers long to see – all true believers want to become more like Christ. We long to be more resistant against sin. We long to be more courageous and bold in our witness.


How can these longings be fulfilled? As believers turn away from sin and focus, instead, on the glory of Christ, their very lives begin to change. As the song says, when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” What a reason to cling to the glory of God! What a reason to hate sin!


III. Application.


Over the past few minutes you have heard six reasons for hating sin:


1.                 We should hate sin because of the suffering that sin causes.

2.                 We should hate sin because not everyone will be rescued from the effects of sin.

3.                 We should hate sin because the consequences of sin are even worse in the life to come.

4.                 We should hate sin because of the way sin prevents us from benefiting from the mercy of God.

5.                 We should hate sin so that we will stop sinning.

6.                 We should hate sin because it diverts us away from the display of the glory of God.


As we begin a new year, let us resolve to think rightly about suffering and sin. Suffering is not God’s fault; it is our fault. When we see and experience suffering, let us hate sin instead of hating God. That is where the blame for our suffering belongs, and that is where our hatred should be directed.

Furthermore, let us remember how sin got here in the first place. God did not create sin; sin emerged when we turned away from God. Sin was manifested when good creatures became bad creatures by turning away from the glory of God.

Finally, in the beginning of this sermon I quoted John Feinberg where he said, “The main lesson to learn from this . . . is the enormity of sin and the need to hate it.” (467) The enormity of sin and the need to hate it, I hope I have clarified that this morning.


Let us pray, Heavenly Father, we look at all the suffering that sin has brought into our world; yet, it is still so very hard to hate sin the way we should. Please strengthen our resolve to fight against all that is unholy, unrighteous, and unworthy of our devotion. Amen.