SPOTLIGHT - Why Sin Actually Sucks
by Alyssa Muegge
“I wondered if that was why God hated sin, because of the destruction it caused. For a moment I felt awe for a God who loved me enough to hate the things that hurt me without hating me for causing them.”
Sin – a word that could bring innumerable thoughts to mind for Christians and nonbelievers alike, has many connotations. As someone who began their spiritual journey at the age of six and truly began to dive into it around 14, it’s a word that I’ve heard my entire life. As a human being, it’s a word that describes my mistakes and mishaps. And, if you turn the word into its noun form (“sinner”), it also describes who I am.
I firmly believe that when we grow up in the church, we become numb to what we hear. From early grade school days, I heard of sin and that it was bad. In fact, that’s about all I ever heard – that sin is evil, that God doesn’t like it, and that we as Christians should feel convicted when we do it.
This mentality isn’t wrong by any means, but it’s missing something. After years of spending time trying to please God and live a holy life for the world to see, I now know why sin sucks. Here’s why.
Just a few months ago, my boyfriend and I began discussions on what it means to live a holy and righteous life as Christians both individually and as a couple. We identified ways we do well and others that we could highly improve upon. When the topic of sin came up, he said something that sounded foreign to me. To summarize it, he made the point that sin absolutely breaks God’s heart, and that when we recognize this, we are more likely to resist sinning.
I agreed with him because that statement made sense to me, but the truth is that, out of all my years pursuing Christ, I’ve never felt like I’ve personally broken God’s heart when I’ve done something I shouldn’t. Instead of, “Wow, I’ve broken God’s heart for His daughter,” my reactions sounded more like this:
1. “I’ve messed up again. I wonder if God is upset with me.”
2. “I feel like such a bad Christian.”
3. “I bet I really hurt that person. I should apologize to them.”
Up until a couple weeks ago, those were my exact, internal responses. You reading this may have the same or extremely similar thoughts/feelings as I did. My mindset changed when I decided to read the book of Hosea.
Yes, Hosea is in fact a book in the Bible, and a slightly forgotten one at that. The story in Hosea is about a man named – you guessed it – Hosea. God instructed him to marry a prostitute. This woman continuously cheated on him, but God specifically told Hosea to take her back every time. The relationship between Hosea and his wife is supposed to represent God and Israel and how the Lord continued to forgive and rescue Israel even though they pursued earthly kings, worldly pleasure, and false idols. This book can now also relate to God and any believer who chooses everything but the Savior. Little did I know that I would see God’s heart for His people and the heartache He experiences when we chase after our own desires. So now, let me counter my initial thoughts/emotions I’d have about my own sin.
1. God isn’t upset with me; He’s angry at sin.
This is the epitome of the commonly used saying, “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” It’s much easier to say about others than recognize that God feels the same way with you. Instead of thinking God is utterly disappointed in us, I wanted to remind you of His wrath for things that hurt His children, but He does not hate His children for it. In this manner, God truly is acting like a Father.
2. It’s more than being a “bad Christian.”
To me, this statement implies legalism. “Oh shoot, I broke the rules again. I’m going to be punished. I’m a bad Christian.” Sure, you should care what the world sees in your life because you represent God, but turning this into a simple game of “Good Christian versus Bad Christian” is like trying to weigh your sins on a scale and not seeing God’s law for what they are – protective boundaries for His children rather than law-breaking.
3. It’s incredibly humble to apologize to someone if you hurt them with your sin, but realize that you hurt God, too.
What happens is that we see sin on a human level – person against person and deed against deed. While it’s important to be up front with your wrongdoings against one another, we need to understand that sin is first and foremost against the One who created us. There are numerous times in the Bible that people have sinned and hurt others in the process, yet humbled themselves before the Lord, physically tore off their clothes in anguish, and decided to face God with the weightiness of their actions. That is what true repentance is – realizing that we have done wrong against the Most High when we end up hurting His beloved (our fellow mankind).
Ultimately, I wrote all of this to call whoever is reading this to a higher thinking of our actions. I want you to pursue righteousness with a new mindset. I don’t know what you were taught in church throughout your life (or if you were even raised in a religious household), but I do want you to realize that sin is much bigger than our relationships, thoughts, and feelings. Sin is powerful enough that Someone perfect had to give up His life for it. When Jesus died on the cross, God turned His face away from His Son. That is God’s heartbreak. That is sin. That is exactly what sucks. And, finally, that is why we run after holiness in a full sprint, because the Father in Heaven can look down on us and say, “Well done.”