Skip to content

Abhor What Is Evil

July 10, 2007

If your love for God is unhypocritical, it will result in an abhorrence of what is evil.  But how do we know what is evil?  True, “the works of the flesh are obvious” (Gal 5:19).  But on the other hand, the ability to discern good from evil is a mark of maturity (Hebrews 5:14).  And here in Romans 12:2, a renewal of the mind is necessary in order to discern what is the will of God.  (Note the marked absence of any mention of the use of the law in discerning the will of God!)

So discovering the evil that we are to abhor is more complicated than we might think.  We must hate anything and everything that is contrary to the character and will of God, but the knowledge of God is something in which we must grow.  So our knowledge of and hatred of evil likewise grows.  The danger is that as immature Christians we will only hate a few of our sins because they are a nuisance to our own lives, rather than hating all sins because they are dishonoring to God.  We need what John Owen called a pursuit of “universal holiness”.  

Without sincerity and diligence in a universality of obedience, there is no mortification of any one perplexing lust to be obtained….Hatred of sin as sin, not only as galling or disquieting, a sense of the love of Christ in the cross, lie at the bottom of all true spiritual mortification. Now, it is certain that that which I speak of [false mortification] proceeds from self-love. Thou settest thyself with all diligence and earnestness to mortify such a lust or sin; what is the reason of it? It disquiets thee, it hath taken away thy peace, it fills thy heart with sorrow, and trouble, and fear; thou hast no rest because of it. Yea; but, friend, thou hast neglected prayer or reading; thou hast been vain and loose in thy conversation in other things, that have not been of the same nature with that lust wherewith thou art perplexed. These are no less sins and evils than those under which thou groanest. Jesus Christ bled for them also. Why dost thou not set thyself against them also? If thou hatest sin as sin, every evil way, thou wouldst be no less watchful against everything that grieves and disquiets the Spirit of God, than against that which grieves and disquiets thine own soul….How knowest thou but that God hath suffered the lust wherewith thou hast been perplexed to get strength in thee, and power over thee, to chasten thee for thy other negligences and common lukewarmness in walking before him; at least to awaken thee to the consideration of thy ways, that thou mayst make a thorough work and change in thy course of walking with him?

Advertisements
6 Comments leave one →
  1. egana permalink
    July 10, 2007 2:22 pm

    “How knowest thou but that God hath suffered the lust wherewith thou hast been perplexed to get strength in thee, and power over thee, to chasten thee for thy other negligences and common lukewarmness in walking before him”

    So often this appears to be the case between me and God. I get comfy. I sit in the lazy-boy recliner of God, and thank him for his blessings.

    Then BAM! One or another of my particularly foul (to myself) besetting sins sneaks in and sets up camp in the livingroom of my soul, and torments me. I start out whiny and complaining to God about him taking my comfort away, and then as my misery increases I begin to really cry out to him. That’s when he restores me to himself, and comforts me, and blesses me with peace and strength to kick the interlopers out.

    If only I could burn the lazy-boy altogether, then maybe I wouldn’t need to be roused from it every other week!

    Anyone know the burning ordinances here in Champaign?

  2. gorfchild permalink
    July 10, 2007 4:25 pm

    I struggled a little to understand the Owen quote. So I endeavored to paraphrase it. I’m still not sure I got it all right. Here’s what I came up with:

    Without sincerity and diligence in a universality of obedience, there is no mortification of any one perplexing lust to be obtained….

    Hatred of sin as sin, not only as galling or disquieting, a sense of the love of Christ in the cross, lie at the bottom of all true spiritual mortification.

    Now, it is certain that false mortification proceeds from self-love. You set yourself with all diligence and earnestness to kill a lust or sin, but what is the reason? It upsets you, it robs you of peace, it fills your heart with sorrow, trouble, and fear; you have no rest because of it.

    But, friend, you have neglected prayer or reading; you have been vain and loose in your conversation regarding other sins, sins that appear substantially different from the sin that is perplexing you. But these are no less sins and evils than those that the one that you groan under. Jesus Christ bled for them also.

    Why don’t you set yourself against those sins as well? If you hate sin as sin, if you hate every evil way, then you would be no less watchful against those other sins that grieve and disquiet the Spirit of God than you are against the sin that grieves and disquiets your own soul….

    Who knows? Perhaps God has permitted the lust that perplexes you in order to strengthen you, to exercise his power over you, to chasten you for your other negligences and common lukewarmness in walking before him, if only to awaken you to consider your ways, so that you may make a significant change in your walk with him?

  3. egana permalink
    July 10, 2007 9:52 pm

    ah, gorfy…

    nice to have you with us once again…

    we’ve missed you and you wisdom…

    thanks for the paraphrase!

  4. July 10, 2007 11:44 pm

    Yep, I think you nailed it. Thanks!

  5. July 11, 2007 12:22 pm

    “Who knows? Perhaps God has permitted the lust that perplexes you in order to strengthen you, to exercise his power over you, to chasten you for your other negligences and common lukewarmness in walking before him, if only to awaken you to consider your ways, so that you may make a significant change in your walk with him?”

    THANK YOU.

    I followed everything just fine until this last section… and I knew that I was missing something that I didn’t want to miss!

  6. September 2, 2007 8:40 am

    Thank you for posting this up! This book by John Owen has been a great blessing to my soul and chapter 8 has been one of the most important things that I’ve learned so far in my walk with God.

    I am surprised that you did not include the closing paragraph though since it summarises the evil of a lack of universality of obedience:

    Whilst there abides a treachery in the heart to indulge to any negligence in not pressing universally to all perfection in obedience, the soul is weak, as not giving faith its whole work; and selfish, as considering more the trouble of sin than the filth and guilt of it; and lives under a constant provocation of God: so that it may not expect any comfortable issue in any spiritual duty that it doth undertake, much less in this under consideration, which requires another principle and frame of spirit for its accomplishment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: