The Horror of Sin

by Mike Ratliff

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1 ESV)

God is Holy. However, at the fall (Genesis 3) Man fell into sin. This fall corrupted all of Adam’s line so that each is born with a sin nature and completely separate from God. Why? God is Holy and is completely separate from all that is not. Christians are not separate from God because, at their salvation, they are forgiven and declared righteous by God because of the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. The Lord Jesus Christ paid heavily to accomplish the atonement for the sins of those for whom He died.

Those who are His, those who have been redeemed, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, are changed. They are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). As they grow up in Christ, becoming more and more mature, their character becomes more and more Christlike. They are becoming conformed unto the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This causes them to take on the same revulsion for sin that God has. 

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD. Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law. Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law. This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts. (Psalms 119:49-56 ESV)

The Hebrew word David used in v53 of Psalm 119 that is translated here as ‘Hot indignation’ is   זלעפה    זלעפה or zal‛âphâh  zil‛âphâh. It literally means ‘hot wind’ or ‘raging heat.’ When referring to human emotion it is used to portray ‘vehement wrath.’ What is David telling us here?

My soul, feelest thou this holy shuddering at the sins of others? For if you do not, you lack inward holiness. David’s cheeks were wet with rivers of waters because of prevailing unholiness; Jeremiah desired eyes like fountains that he might lament the iniquities of Israel, and Lot was vexed with the conversation of the men of Sodom. Those upon whom the mark was set in Ezekiel’s vision, were those who sighed and cried for the abominations of Jerusalem. It cannot but grieve gracious souls to see what pains men take to go to hell. They know the evil of sin experimentally [experientially], and they are alarmed to see others flying like moths into its blaze. Sin makes the righteous shudder, because it violates a holy law, which it is to every man’s highest interest to keep; it pulls down the pillars of the commonwealth. Sin in others horrifies a believer, because it puts him in mind of the baseness of his own heart: when he sees a transgressor he cries with the saint mentioned by Bernard, “He fell to-day, and I may fall to-morrow.”

Sin to a believer is horrible, because it crucified the Saviour; he sees in every iniquity the nails and spear. How can a saved soul behold that cursed kill-Christ sin without abhorrence? Say, my heart, dost thou sensibly join in all this? It is an awful thing to insult God to His face. The good God deserves better treatment, the great God claims it, the just God will have it, or repay His adversary to his face. An awakened heart trembles at the audacity of sin, and stands alarmed at the contemplation of its punishment. How monstrous a thing is rebellion! How direful a doom is prepared for the ungodly! My soul, never laugh at sin’s fooleries, lest thou come to smile at sin itself. It is thine enemy, and thy Lord’s enemy-view it with detestation, for so only canst thou evidence the possession of holiness, without which no man can see the Lord. – C.H. Spurgeon.

A professing Christian who can partner with others for political, professional, or personal gain who support things such as abortion on demand or gay rights, et cetera is either not regenerate or they are so backslidden that the light of God’s truth is only a dying ember in their hearts. Genuine believers will never view sin as optional or anything less than a horror that is repugnant to their souls.

Those that make God’s promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea. He that by his Spirit works faith in us, will work for us. The word of God speaks comfort in affliction. If, through grace, it makes us holy, there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions. Let us be certain we have the Divine law for what we believe, and then let not scoffers prevail upon us to decline from it. God’s judgments of old comfort and encourage us, for he is still the same. Sin is horrible in the eyes of all that are sanctified. Ere long the believer will be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. In the mean time, the statutes of the Lord supply subjects for grateful praise. In the season of affliction, and in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of the Lord, and is stirred up to keep the law. All who have made religion the first thing, will own that they have been unspeakable gainers by it. – From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary of Psalm 119:49-56.

My brethren, what is your relationship to sin? Does it horrify you or are you comfortable with it? Did that last question strike a chord with your soul? Hurry to the throne of grace. Ask God to examine your heart and reveal to you the truth. Repent of what He shows you. Commit yourself to walking in repentance until God takes you home.

Soli Deo Gloria!



28 thoughts on “The Horror of Sin

  1. I hate sin. Plain and simple. I can’t wait to be rid of it for good when we get to be with our Lord. Sin has destroyed this world and most of our loved ones. And we agree Mike, anyone who thinks gays and abortions are alright are sick and live in total darkness. We long for our King to come and get us.


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  3. Mike,

    Speaking as one whom God did not forgive overnight, I can completely understand your article. God is holy, just, and is angry with the unrepentant sinner everyday. When God deals with us individually, we will not forget it. God did not forgive me (nor many others) unless he dealt with me first.
    Easy believism rejects the severity of God more than we realize. Men such as Moses, Paul, and the minor prophets experienced his severity through some intense chastening. In plain English, God set his face against them for some time before he forgave them. I know that there are many who reject God’s holiness and don’t accept that, but that is true even to this day. God has indignation and does not always forgive so easily. If God winked at every sin, then he would not be just. We would all fall into idolatry or be predisposed to a “licentious” form of grace, which is only cheap grace.
    What father overlooks every act of disobedience that his son commits? No, he will not disown his son, but instead he will make sure that his son understands that there are consequences for not doing what is right. Cheap grace says, “Ok, I am saved and I have license to sin. God loves me unconditionally, so whatever I do wrong is already overlooked.”

    Bzzz. Wrong! Live like the devil and see what happens. God would not let it go unpunished. He loves us that much.


  4. Ephesians 5:3 (New International Version)
    New International Version (NIV)

    3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

    We just dont get the idea of not even a hint.

    How can someone lose weight and not change their diet?



  5. I do struggle with this one but differently than you might think.

    Jesus walked among the prostitutes and dregs of the world. He did not brow beat them over their sin but went after their hearts and did not brow beat them over externals as much. His ways were far greater than methods Churches use.

    He did brow beat the religious order of the day. I continue to believe the sins of religiosity is the MOST unrecognized sin of the Church today and will continue to be in the future. Its also crippling to CHurches when leadership is a part of this kind of thinking. I, personally, have seen its damaging effect.

    People can and do use both immorality (irreligious) and morality (religion) to escape their DEEP need of depending and trusting in the Cross and God for their justification and their sanctification. I think this is a highly unrecognized theme in scripture but its clearly there.

    So as a rhetoric question only. How does one balance not even a hint with coming along side others in their sin. I dont think Christianity does a good job of putting up with people struggling with sin. Rather it just puts up with people struggling. We turn on our empathy in public but when it comes down to really taking the extra step its more read a couple of passages and call me in the morning attitude. if its means me taking a step outside of my comfort zone then I dont want to understand this person and their sin deeply.

    Total depravity means I get to be honest about my sin …. IN public possibly, without condemnation because Christ paid the penalty for my sin. Part of this honesty and confession and repentance cycle is a HUGE part of my sanctification process. Moralty based Christianity drives sin into the closet and bypasses some important steps.

    I guess this was long winded post to say God is Holy …. yes …. but I think if we are using Gods Holiness to get something from God…. ie control a family member or another Christian into living a moral life or to make ourselves look like good, upright Christian citizens then we are really missing the point.

    Not sure if I stated my though process clearly?


  6. Jon,

    It sounds to me like you are bit confused or torn between actions and motives. John the Baptist most certainly preached REPENT! Jesus did as well. When we preach the gospel we cannot wink at sin. It must be shown to the lost that it is their sin that is separating them from God. When we preach to Christians we preach repentance as well. We always point people to our Holy God and show them the way to the Saviour. We must never let up on preaching Holiness and Righteousness. I challenge you to show me anywhere in the Bible where this is not so.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  7. I think your on the right thought process of understanding me Mike…. :)… although I am not sure if “winking at sin’ is the right word for what I was trying to say…. but I agree with the what you were saying to me at the same time.

    At my core is a deep understanding of my total depravity and need for a savior… and I think this understanding is crucial to both my justification and my sanctification. I dont see this as avoiding my sanctification but I see it as THE FUEL for my sanctification. I hope that makes sense?

    On your first statement about actions and motives …. both are very important. We need to examine both our actions and our motives.

    We also live in world the subtly injects “somewhat good things” into the divine will of God because we have the wrong motives. If we are honest about this we would probably say we have all done this at one point or another. I know I have.

    Thanks for the thought provoking discussion.

    Keep it up!



  8. I think of the most pernicious lies of the enemy is that people are “poor victims” who “just can’t help themselves” rather than they are rebellious sinners. In fact, we have lost the concept of “sinner” inside and outside of the professing church. Many sit in recovery groups sharing their helplessness rather than encouraging each other to confess sins and repent. We need to reclaim the doctrine of sin….Thanks for the post.


  9. I think Wendy is living in nice/neat box of over simplification.

    If you want to see some holiness go and talk to recovered drug or sex addict in the recovery group that Wendy so lightly dismisses. He does not see himself as a “poor victim” or as just a rebellious sinner. Have you gone to this kind of group. Probably not but you talk as if you have. What right do you have to be an expert on the subject?

    I have an ex-Pastor who 3 years ago came clean on his addiction to pornography. Our Church still holds his credentials. Currently, God is using him to counsel other addicts in his recovery as he works with faithful and true ministries.

    Sin is both religious and irreligious. Wendy do you even have a concept of what religious sin is?



  10. Jon,

    Christians need to be able to draw a line in the sand when it comes to “putting up” with those who make a habit of sin. If you bid someone Godspeed when they are in the wrong, then you share in their sins. It is not hypocritical to give someone an honest answer instead of telling them whatever they want to hear. This is the best form of love that you can give someone. Meat and bread is more nutritious than sugar. If you give your friend sugar everytime that he needs food, you will eventually kill him.

    “Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.” Proverb 24:24-26 (ESV)

    It is true that we should correct others in love. But sincere answers are not always what people want to hear. We just have to face the music, be bold, speak the truth, and endure the scorn or reproach. Just no easy way around it.


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  12. @Spadinofamily:
    Uh No. Wendy isn’t “living in a nice neat box of over simplification”. I have however over 260 hours at the undergraduate and graduate level studying psychology and recovery theory. I also spent 8 years at a seeker friendly “recovery” church before I saw the truth. Through consistent and sound Bible study I repudiated such programs. Since being “disciplined” by this recovery church for my speaking out; I have spent the last decade teaching how psychology and recovery doctrines are in direct opposition to the Word of God. For some reason I do think my background does qualify me as some sort of expert to speak out on the subject. What are your qualifications?

    I am grateful that your pastor has “come clean” regarding his “addiction.” Please point me to anywhere in the Bible where such terms are found. This is a huge issue with the recovery movement. It redefines biblical terms like, oh say, “drunkenness” and calls it “alcoholism”. It no longer defines drunkenness as sin but rather as a disease. BTW that’s exactly the belief of Bill Wilson the founder of AA. He didn’t call drunkenness sin but rather was diagnosed by a doctor with a disease–he was “allergic” to alcohol.

    Unfortunately, the world (and the church) has most recently redefined gluttony as “obesity”. Profesing Christians flock to the doctor for bypass surgery and banding instead of confessing gluttony as self indulgent sin and trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome. How we define a problem determines how we solve it.

    “Wendy, do you even have a concept of what religious sin is?” Uh, yes. I grew up as a fifth generation Mormon and was in the LDS church for the first 25 years of my life. I have a real good idea of what “religious sin” looks like. Any works based false religion like Mormonism is filled with such. For example, not only is drunkenness condemned in the LDS church, but just to be on the safe side, they also ban the drinking of Diet Coke or any caffeine. They are experts in developing extraneous laws just as were the Pharisees of old. They require all members to strictly adhere to Mormon law–such as eternal marriage in their Temples– in order to make it to their highest heaven–the Celestial Kingdom. You must obey all the LDS laws to make it to heaven instead of being justified through faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone to His glory alone.

    Now I am perfectly willing and able to defend my comment that recovery groups do indeed teach that people are helpless victims and not sinners and to do so from the Bible alone. Feel free to contact me through my blog, Jon if you wish.
    Grateful for His Grace,


  13. Thanks Wendy,
    A counselor I went to tried to encourage me to a attend a ‘recovery’ group because I have major depression. I saw through it. It was not until I began to read Puritan writers that I saw the difference between the nagging guilt of major depression and coviction of sin. Modern psch does not distinguish.


  14. Jon,

    God does not throw sin into two categories, that I know of. What are irreligious sins and religious sins? What are you talking about? You lost me.

    I am under the impression that you don’t understand the meaning of a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who says, “Ok it is ok for me to sin but when you do it, it is not.”
    If a Christian (the regenerate) sins, he/she will abhor it, will deal with it, face it, and repent, thus doing what is necessary not to make a HABIT of it. Since the unregenerate does not have the ability to God’s will (because he/she is still ruled by the carnal nature), he/she cannot stop sinning even when they try not to. It is in their nature, the one that they are born with. Only when a person has died to the world is the carnal nature crucified, thus enabling him/her to do God’s will and to stop sinning.
    After we are dead to the world and regenerated, things can come along and cause us to stumble. Fortunately the new nature abhors sin and the rudiments of the world which previously made us enemies of the cross and lovers of unrighteousness. The regenerated man will not make a habit of sin when he stumbles, and he will be grateful when a brother corrects him to keep him on the narrow path. Those who despise correction and enjoy the broad way belong to the world. After all, it is in their nature to label a Christian a Pharisee or hypocrite because they do not understand God’s command to persevere and be holy.


  15. Jon,

    I have to admit that there are recovery groups out there that claim to be Christian and aren’t. I attended one with a brother in law who was an alcoholic. They were telling him that it was ok to believe in a crystal necklace, if that was his god. They emphasized that it was ok to believe in whatever they wanted, as long as they believed in something. PURE IDOLATRY AND BLASPHEMY.
    I myself went to 2 groups sponsored by churches and 1 non group family psychiatrist to help me with some trauma because of abuse from a family member. One group was a twelve step program which disowned me because I disagreed with some serious doctrinal error. That place that I went to was a mish mash of every kind doctrine that anybody could bring in. I never heard someone mention repentance. If anyone did, they were driven out. Me included. Praise God that I was driven out. God wasn’t in it.


  16. Josh, I agree with that. AA is not Christian its God-centric but not necessarily Christian whatsoever. However, it does have a high success rate. Go figure.

    Another group I know of openly welcomes same-sex couples. WRONG!

    However, its very important to not throw the baby out with the bathwater like many do because many groups are Christian men coming along side their brothers to horrify and identify sin.

    The connection you can get with other Christian men … in a non-viritual environemnt …. is invaluable but I have to admit that a good group is hard to find.

    Personally, my opinion on accountability groups is dont waste time on one that is starting out on the wrong foot. IF it’s not good change quickly until you find one worth keeping. Its too important and time consuming to waste your time. Christ needs to be at the center of it.


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  18. Jon:
    I left the classroom over 30 years ago. I have been a believer since that time. I was deceived by the seeker friendly church doctrine and recovery programs as a Christian. The deception is that subtle. However when I immersed myself in the Word of God, the errors became clear.

    I went to your blog and you said that you didn’t want it to be “theological” but you want to be “Gospel driven”. I fear you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Theology is the study of God but I fear you may be underestimating the dire need for sound biblical doctrine. You cannot be “gospel driven” without being a person of God’s Word.

    (What do you mean once again “not even a hint?” A hint of what?)

    Where are in the Scripture do you find the terms such as “addiction.” or “Come clean” or that of a “higher power” and “I am powerless over my life.” These are the teachings of recovery groups. Again, I am willing to defend my first comment.

    Jon, the real issue is whether the Scripture is sufficient for all things pertaining to godliness and life. What exactly do you do in your men’s recovery programs? For nearly two thousand years the Bible was sufficient for the Body of Christ but now thanks to Freud and Bill Wilson we now need more? What do you men use as the standard of truth? The experience of the men with whom you meet I am not being contentious or facetious, Jon, I am sincerely asking.

    Josh, thanks for your comment. I praise God you didn’t stay in the AA group. May God continue to transform you through the sanctifying work of the Word of God.
    Grateful for His Grace,


  19. I understand what your saying Wendy and I have multiple avenues where I do exactly what you are saying. However, coming to BLOGS like this actually reinforces exactly the path I have been on.

    I have been through recovery. Gods grace has come to me in abundance and sins of shame are a part of my past. My “fully qualified response” back to you was not posted unfortunately.

    Its a choice I make that was not made by me. Why would I strvie for anything less than what Gods word has spoken to me.


  20. Not Even a HInt — The starting point of my recovery group.

    Ephesians 5:3

    3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.


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