Sin is Worse Than Hell

While preparing to teach a college/young adult class on sin this past Lord's Day, I revisited a book by Jeremiah Burroughs that I had set aside several years ago after having almost read half. In The Evil of Evils, Burroughs endeavors to present two twin truths, that the least sin is worse than the greatest affliction, and the least sin is worse than the greatest torments of hell.

Using typical Puritan logic, he suggests that sin is worse than affliction & hell because sin CAUSED both affliction and hell. And that which has been caused (affliction & hell) cannot be greater than that which caused it. Make sense?

People often go to great lengths to avoid affliction in thier lives, but do very little to avoid sin, when sin is the greater of evils. And it seems that people are more concerned about dying in Hell than living in sin, when in reality, living in sin is worse than dying in Hell. There is at least some good in hell - that is - God is glorified in the just punishment of the wicked. There is, however, no such good in sin.

Weighty matters, indeed! Makes me want to finish the book. Makes me want to stop sinning. Makes me eager from Heaven that much more when we'll be delivered from "this body of death" by Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 7:7-25)

From page 3 of his book, Burroughs says this:

There is... more evil in sin than in all the miseries and torments of hell itself.

Suppose that God should bring any of you to the brink of that bottomless gulf and open it to you, and there you should see those damned creatures sweltering under the wrath of the infinite God, and there you should hear the dreadful and hideous cries and shrieks of those who are under such soul-amazing and soul-sinking torments through the wrath of the Almighty. Yet, I say, there is more evil in one sinful thought than there is in all these everlasting burnings, and that is what I shall endeavor to clear and prove to every man's conscience, that we shall not only see it as an ill choice to chose sin rather than affliction, but (if it comes in competition) to choose sin rather than all the tortures and torments of hell, however many of you give in to sin upon very easy terms.

Burroughs also speaks of two other areas that tie in to my previous post on reasons not to sin, as well as the post on the salvation of angels (actually the impossibility of such).

When suggesting deterrents to keep us from sinning, or in his own words, "way[s] to break your hearts for sin, and also to keep you from temptation", Jeremiah Burroughs says that viewing sin foremost as sin against God and His holy character is a stronger and more necessary deterrent than the mere consequences of sin. Whereas the consequences are certainly a deterrent, they are usually in the near or distant future, yet God is always present. Plus, we can sometimes avoid (by sinning yet more) such consequences of our sin, but we cannot avoid God. It's perhaps summarized best by Joseph, "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"(Genesis 39:9)

And then there's the fallen angels. Creatures that were once so glorious, that are so numerous, and yet their punishment and chains and miseries now are so eternal. All this, for one sin. All this, for the first sin. Burroughs continues, "Consider that God should not now enter so much into any parley with them about any terms of peace, nor ever would, nor ever will." (pg. 90, emphasis mine)

We would do well to take more seriously the sinfulness of sin...the evil of evils.

And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" John 8:11


tnfpb said...

Good post Aaron,

Piper said, "The only thing that will condemn us on judgment day is unforgiven sin" & "Satan's ultimate weapon against us is our own sin" & that it ultimately boils down to our pride-and "pride is a turning away from God specifically to take satisfaction in self."
Stands to reason that sin is ultimately a turning away from God and His glory and seeking it in anything else? I think that is what hell represenseparationion (ultimate & eternal) from God's presence.

Aaron said...

Love it! Certainly our pride and self centered nature leads to this statement being so true:

"And it seems that people are more concerned about dying in Hell than living in sin."

I have never considered the line of thought from your post here before. Beyond the ideas similar to what is found in The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. That sin is separation from God. We people choose it here and it extends into eternity.