Romans 12:9 says, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” These actions are two sides of the same coin, and they are mutually dependent. Our grip on the good will be tenuous indeed if we don’t learn to hate the evil.
Hating sin in other people is comparatively easy. We’re adept at finding the speck in our neighbor’s eye, even while the plank is embedded in our own (Luke 6:42). Most of us have a pet sin or two that we have a high tolerance for and readily excuse. Poet George Herbert called it that “one cunning bosom-sin.” So, hating our own heart’s sin is easier said than done. Our flesh is sin’s ally (Galatians 5:17), and we fight against our own natural desires in our struggle to “be holy in all” (1 Peter 1:15).
The first step in hating our own sin is to acknowledge that we have sin. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We must be open and honest before the Lord. David’s prayer should be a model for us: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24). When we fear God (Proverbs 8:13) and humbly acknowledge our sin, we are in a position to receive His comfort (Isaiah 57:15).
The better we know God, the more we will hate our sin. The psalmist speaks of the “splendor” of God’s holiness (Psalm 29:2). The clearer that splendor is to us, the more we will eschew anything that threatens to obscure or distort that brilliance. The lover of light will naturally hate darkness. The closer we draw to God’s beauty, the uglier our own sin becomes to us, because imperfection, side by side with perfection, is always glaringly insufficient (Isaiah 6:5). To better know God, we must spend time in His Holy Word, the Bible (Psalm 119:11, 163). And we must commune with Him in prayer. It is impossible to pray in earnest and not feel convicted by our own sin. Prayer leads to a hatred of sin as it leads us into a closer relationship with God.
The better we understand the consequences of sin, the more we will hate sin in our own lives. Sin is what separates us from God. Sin enslaves us (John 8:34). Sin is what brought sickness, sorrow, shame, and death into the world (Genesis 2:17). Sin is the root cause of all war, fighting, pain, and injustice. Sin is why hell exists. When we consider the horrible effects of sin in the world at large, we are grieved to discover the same sin lurking in our own hearts. We hate that we contribute to the pain of the world.
The better we understand the source of sin, the more we will hate it in ourselves. Satan is the originator of sin (Ezekiel 28:15). Before salvation, we were children of the devil (John 8:44). As believers, we still face Satan’s temptations and struggle with the “old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). When we “gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:14), we are dabbling again in the uncleanness and corruption of the devil.
The more we love God, the more we will hate our sin. We are not our own, but we belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20). The Lord has given us the very breath of life, and our sin grieves Him (Ephesians 4:30). Why would we tolerate that which grieves the One we love? A mother hates the sickness that incapacitates her child, and, if we really love the Lord, we will hate the sin that grieves Him.
The more clearly we see our potential, the more we will hate our sin. Think what the soul of man is made for! We are made to love, obey, and glorify our Maker. We are made to reason, invent, grow, and explore. What an excellent and high and holy work we are called to! Sin is what disables and perverts our God-given potential. Once we realize God’s original plan for us, it becomes natural to hate sin.
The more we care about our unsaved friends and family, the more we will hate our sin. When others see our good works, they glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). However, if what they see is our sin, God’s enemies will blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14). As our personal sin is a detriment to our testimony, we hate it all the more. Our light should not be hidden under a bushel basket (Matthew 5:15). Light was meant to shine, and sin shrouds.
The better we understand the sacrifice of Christ, the more we will hate our sin. Jesus, the only innocent Man, shed His blood to save us from our sin. In a very real way, our sin caused His death. Our sin scourged Him, beat Him, mocked Him, and finally nailed Him to a cross. And “we turned our backs on him and looked the other way” (Isaiah 53:3, NLT). Once we understand the price Jesus paid for our salvation, we will love Him even more, and we will hate what caused His pain.
The more often we consider eternity, the more we will hate our sin. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). No one will still love sin after he dies. The sooner we think of sin not as a pleasure but as the basis of the coming judgment, the sooner we will hate our own sin.
Christians still sin even after being saved. The difference is that we no longer love our sin; in fact, we hate the impurity within us and engage in a spiritual battle to defeat it. Praise the Lord, we have the victory in Christ: “The word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14).