. Sin is contrary to the nature of God. God’s name is holy, and as his name is, so is he and his nature, all holy; he is so, and cannot but be so. Therefore God takes it worse that men should think him wicked like themselves (Psalm 50.I6-22), than that they think him not to exist (Psalm 14.1). It is said to weary him when men say that evil is good in his sight (Malachi 2.17). This is the thing God glories in, that he is holy, even glorious in holiness (Exodus 15.11).
Holiness is the attribute which frees God, not only from evil itself, but from all appearance or suspicion of evil. If God were not holy, many of the things which God does would look unlike him: his justice and judgments would look not only like severity, but tyranny, were not it and they holy; his love in its conduct and behaviour to some people would look like fondness and respect of persons, but that it is holy; his patience would look like a toleration, if not approbation of sin, but that it is holy patience. Thus many acts of God, were it not for holiness, would appear as seemingly evil as they are really good, and would be as much suspected by all, as they are unjustly censured by some.
God is holy, without spot or blemish, or any such thing, without any wrinkle, or anything like it, as they also that are in Christ shall one day be (Ephesians 5.27). He is so holy, that he cannot sin himself, nor be the cause or author of sin in another. He does not command sin to be committed, for to do so would be to cross his nature and will. Nor does he approve of any man’s sin, when it is committed, but hates it with a perfect hatred. He is without iniquity, and of purer eyes than to behold (i.e. approve) iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).
On the contrary, as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful, and always sinful (Genesis 6.5). In my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7.18). As in God there is no evil, so in sin there is no good. God is the chiefest of goods and sin is the chiefest of evils. As no good can be compared with God for goodness, so no evil can be compared with sin for evil.
2. Sin is contrary to all the names and attributes of God. It sets itself in opposition to them all.
(1) It deposes the sovereignty of God as much as in it lies. It will not that the King of kings should be on the throne, and govern this world which he has made. It was by this instinct that Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know no Lord above me; I will not let Israel go (Exodus 5.2). The voice and language of sin is, ‘Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?’ (Psalm 12.4). It was from hence that the Jews of old said, ‘We are lords, we will come no more to thee’ (Jeremiah 2.31). Thus it attempts to dethrone God.
(2) It denies God’s all-sufficiency. As if there were not contentment and satisfaction enough to be had in the enjoyment of God, but that vanity and wickedness had more of pleasure and profit than he, whose ways are all pleasantness, and whose service is the health of man! Every prodigal who leaves the Father’s house says in effect, It is better to be elsewhere.
(3) It challenges the justice of God, and dares God to do his worst (Malachi 2.17). It provokes the Lord to jealousy, and tempts him to wrath.
(4) It disowns his omniscience. Pooh! they say, God does not see, nor does the most High regard.
(5) It despises the riches of God’s goodness (Romans 2.4).
(6) It turns his grace into immorality, unrestraint, abandon (Jude 4) It will make bold with God, and sin because grace abounds.
In short, sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love, as one writer prettily expresses this ugly thing. We may go on and say, it is the upbraiding of his providence (Psalm 50), the scoff of his promise (2 Peter 3.3-4), the reproach of his wisdom (Isaiah 29.16). And as is said of the Man of Sin (i.e. who is made up of sin) it opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God (and above all that God is called), so that it as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing itself as if it were God (2 Thessalonians 2.4)