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This wonderful passage comes from J. C. Ryle’s classic, Holiness:

I do not think, in the nature of things, that mortal man can at all realize the exceeding sinfulness of sin in the sight of that holy and perfect One with whom we have to do. On the one hand, God is that eternal Being who ‘chargeth his angels with folly’, and in whose sight the very ‘heavens are not clean’. …

And man, fallen man, I believe can have no just idea of what a vile thing sin is in the sight of that God whose handiwork is absolutely perfect. …

But let us nevertheless settle it firmly in our minds that sin is ‘the abominable thing that God hateth’–that God ‘is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and cannot look upon that which is evil’–that the least transgression of God’s law makes us ‘guilty of all’–that ‘the soul that sinneth shall die’–that ‘the wages of sin is death’–that God shall ‘judge the secrets of men’–that there is a worm that never dies, and a fire that is not quenched–that ‘the wicked shall be turned into hell’–and ‘shall go away into everlasting punishment’–and that ‘nothing that defiles shall in any way enter heaven’. … These are indeed tremendous words, when we consider that they are written in the Book of a most merciful God!

No proof of the fulness of sin, after all, is so overwhelming and unanswerable as the cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole doctrine of his substitution and atonement,. Terribly black must that guilt be for which nothing but the blood of the Son of God could make substitution. Heavy must that weight of huamn sin be which made Jesus groan and sweat drops of blood in agony at Gethsemane, and cry at Golgotha, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ …

Nothing, I am convinced will astonish us so much, when we awake in the resurrection day, as the view we shall have of sin, and the retrospect we shall take of our own countless shortcomings and defects. Never till the hour when Christ comes the second time shall we fully realize the ‘sinfulness of sin.’ Well might George Whitefield say, ‘The anthem in heaven will be, What hath God wrought!’

  • Holiness (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 7-9.