Romans 12:9-10 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
It’s here in Romans 12 that we see some powerful and pointed words, we are called to hate evil and cling to what is good. What if we stopped hating skin and started hating sin? How different would our world be if we would choose to have a sincere love that honored others above ourselves? Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” How serious are you when it comes to sin? James 1:14-15 reminds us that sin seeks to kill, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” We need to realize that just because we are finished committing the sin, doesn’t mean that sin is not finished with you. Sin may be fun for a season, but the season is always short, and the payment is long. While the initial cost is often high remember it is only the initial down payment. Often, we keep paying in our conscience, our body, in the suffering we bring on our family, friends, and community. We can be forgiven but we don’t escape the consequences. Ravi Zaccharias put it so well when he said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” Sadly, in many churches we have split sin into the serious and the socially acceptable. We are ok with gluttony but notsmoking. We preach against alcohol but not gossip. But how much damage is done by the sins of gossip and gluttony? Instead of killing sin we have become comfortable with it. Do you know why most diets don’t work? Because on that diet you are asked to go without and say no to things that you really enjoy. Often you can have as much of the things you are allowed to have as you want. But in a fairly short amount of time all of the things that you like and are allowed to eat begin to lose their appeal. The diet says I can have as much as I want but you know what I want. I want the doughnut I can’t have. I want the starch and all the things I am not supposed to have. As with any diet over time, what really starts to sound good is what I am not supposed to have. The diet plan tells us to use our human willpower to avoid eating things you really enjoy. But what if the real key to diet is understanding why certain foods are unhealthy and learning to “hate” all the foods that are bad for you! Why do so many experience this rollercoaster ride with sin, where we have seasons of success followed by seasons of slavery? Because we see sin as a dieting instead of a lifestyle change. What we want to do is diet for a season and then go back to sin. Let me ask you a seemingly strange question, if I were to ask you to make a solemn commitment to not knowingly eat any insects for an entire year how many of you could commit to that? No more flies! No more spiders! Laying off the ants! Not even one more cockroach, could you do it? I think with confidence and enthusiasm, we could commit to that. Why, because we don’t want to eat insects! We don’t like them and probably the thought of eating them makes you feel sick. So why is it so hard to follow through on our spiritual convictions and commitments and to stop a particular sinful behavior? Why do we have certain patterns of failure and weakness that plague us for years? Because we don’t hate sin. In fact, we like sin, we enjoy it and so we crave its sinful pleasures. Like the dieter who is waiting for a secret moment to sneak and indulge in a handful of potato chips or a piece of chocolate cake we find ourselves surrounded by temptation and don’t know how to handle it. While some “human strategies” may work with chocolate cake they won’t work with the temptation to sin. Things like just trying to ignore it or the temptation to compromise and make a deal with it. When we say just this once or just once more and then I will stop. Fortunately, God doesn’t call us to fight sin with willpower. In fact, the Bible gives us some specific strategies for dealing with sin. So, let me share a few practical steps to learn to hate sin:
1.) Know God better.
Psalm 97:10 says, “Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Focus on the Savior not the sin. Those who love the Lord, this is not a casual acquaintance this is the one we love. How much time do you spend with Jesus, in prayer and in His Word? Because either sin will keep you from the bible or the bible will keep you from sin.
2.) Remember the price of sin.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Remember that our sin cost Jesus His life. The bread of communion reminds us that Jesus took the punishment for our sin in His body. He was bruised, beaten and broken in our place. The cup reminds us that “without the shedding of blood there is no way for the stain of sin to be removed from our souls”. Don’t minimize the seriousness of sin.
3.) Remember God’s Spirit lives in you.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Paul uses a very graphic temptation to make this point. The believers in Corinth were being tempted to go into the pagan temples where immorality with prostitutes was a part of the “worship”. Paul makes it clear that they drag their Savior into that immorality with them because His Spirit is in them. The same is true for us, everywhere you go He goes. Everything you see He sees. Every secret place you take HIM too. Every relationship you put HIM right in the middle of it. Proverbs 5:21 says, “For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD , and he examines all his paths.” If your Pastor spouse or kids were tied to you so that wherever you went they had to go, are there any places that you currently go that you would avoid. Any flirtations you would cool off? Any conversations you would skip? Any entertainment you would change? If you would answer yes then my question is why? They are just human not the Holy God. Why would you change things for their sake but be willing to do it in the sight of God?
4.) Recognize the results of sin.
Hebrews 11:24-25 says, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” While sin advertises itself as fun, adventure and excitement it always leads to pain, prison and death. Sin is a cockroach not a cookie. Its death cloaked in desire. We must be aware of our desire to be easy on ourselves. We all tend to be most understanding and forgiving of our own passions and prides while being quick to take offense at another people’s attitudes or behaviors. So, let me ask you what are you hating, are you hating the right thing? Because if we are not careful we will love sin and hate the wrong thing.