Abhor What Is Evil
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?