You have heard the expression, “Ugly as sin.” Taking two of our fine young FPTC campers to the airport, I was talking with them about some unpleasant things we may see in life. One of the campers says that the county in which he lives is reputed to be the worst in the nation for percentage of “meth” users. You have seen the gruesome transformation caused in a person who continues to use methamphetamine–the lost teeth, sunken face, dark-circled eyes, skin blemishes, and more. The transformation is horribly evident. The conclusion we drew was that if all sin was that visibly ugly, we would not struggle with it.
How ugly sin is to us depends upon the condition of our hearts. We can become callused and past feeling (1 Tim. 4:2; Eph. 4:19). We can become completely comfortable doing or knowing others are doing what the Bible unmistakably calls sinful (Rom. 1:32). It is possible to commit “abomination” without even blushing, much less properly recognizing the ugly appearance of our own sins (cf. Jer. 6:15; 8:12). But, with properly trained hearts, we see our sins as dirt (Ps. 51:2), disease (Ps. 38:3), and death (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:1ff). It startles us, shames us, and spurs us to eliminate it from our lives.
But, how ugly is sin to God? If we were to review the synonyms of sin, which God moved holy men to pen, we could not remain in doubt of the answer. It is “sin” (an offense, guilt before God, miss the mark, an aberration or deviance), “transgression” (fall by the wayside, errors and faults with consequences), “iniquity” (injustice, wrong, not in harmony with righteousness), “error” (perversity, wickedness, wander out of the right way), “ungodly” (godless, without fear of God, actively opposed to God), “evil” (corrupt, malicious), and the like. God likens it to a spot or blemish (2 Pt. 2:13), an illness (Mt. 9:12), and even a death (Eph. 2:1). God tells us most clearly how ugly it is to Him when He says He cannot even look at it (Hab. 1:13). Sin is so unsightly to God that He offered His most precious gift to satisfy His perfect justice regarding it (Rom. 8:3). God does not indulge, tolerate, or “wink” at it (Acts 17:30).
The liar, fornicator, adulterer, gambler, pornography addict, proud, jealous, selfish, or similar sinner may not be physically, outwardly unattractive. The Bible gives little merit or praise to such attractiveness. Yet, it does depict sin as ugly! It is as unappealing to God as the skid row bum is unsightly to us. The discipline we need is to see sin like God sees it!