Can God Be in the Presence of Sin? – #3 Post of 2010

Post Author: Bill Pratt

The Bible clearly teaches that God is morally perfect and holy, that he hates sin.  Habakkuk 1:13 says that God is too pure to look on evil.  Christians often say that God cannot allow any sin in his presence.

But, this is not the whole story.  There are also several instances in the Bible where Satan and other demons are said to be in God’s presence (e.g., Job 1:6; 2 Chron. 18:18-21; Rev. 12:10).  In addition, the prophet Isaiah, himself a sinful man, was in the presence of God, as recorded  in Isaiah 6.

We also know that God is omnipresent, which means he is present everywhere.  “‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away?  Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord.  ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 23:23-24).  If he is present everywhere then he cannot but be in the presence of sinful creatures.

So what are we to make of all this?  I think the simple answer is that Habakkuk 1:13 is a commentary on God’s moral perfection and holiness.  It is not meant to be a statement about his physical presence.  In fact, the full rendering is, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil.”  But we know God does not literally have eyes!  God is spirit (John 4:24) and does not have a physical presence.

The Bible teaches that God is opposed to sin and evil, that he is holy and righteous.  We know that eventually he will quarantine evil from good when he creates the New Heaven and Earth (Rev. 21).  At that time, God will physically separate those who love him from those who don’t.  Those who love him will no longer be in the presence of sin from that point forward.

Until then, God tolerates the presence of sin in order to accomplish his purposes with mankind.  Thank goodness, because if God truly could not be in the presence of sin, none of us would be here!