Jonathan Edwards, the great philosopher theologian of the Great Awakening is probably most known for his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." In my opinion, however, his greatest contribution to the Church (beyond bringing many souls into the Kingdom) is his work entitled A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. In a time when "religion" was stale and placid, God raised up this man (and others) to show the world that worshiping the God of the Universe is anything but stale and placid.
Almost without warning, those who sat under Edwards' preaching began experiencing powerful moves of the Spirit, which they expressed through their emotions which he called "religious affections." Of course today emotional responses during worship are somewhat commonplace. But during Edwards' day, this became a huge controversy, and he found himself having to constantly defend himself from petty preachers and stuck up skeptics. Eventually, he put it all into one book, mentioned above.
This morning I was reading an excerpt where he is proving from Scripture that God always intended for us to respond to him with our emotions. That's when I came across this statement that pertains to the "Love God. Hate Sin." revolution.
The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love, in the love to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and love to the people of God, and to mankind. The texts in which this is manifest, both O.T. and N.T. are innumerable.
The contrary affection of hatred also, as having sin for its object, is spoken of as part of true religion.It is that by which true religion may be known and distinguished: "the fear of the Lord is to hate evil," Prov. 8:13. The saints are called upon to give evidence of their sincerity by this, "ye that love the Lord hate evil," Ps. 97:10.
The bold section above is where it really hit home for me this morning. Edwards says that true religion (by which he means true spirituality or true love of God) can be distinguished from false religion (false spirituality or false love of God) by whether or not someone hates evil. This is revealed by the proverb: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." In an earlier section, Edwards established that those that fear the Lord, love the Lord and vice versa. If that is true (and obviously I think it is), then to love God ISto hate evil. You cannot have one without the other. If I don't hate evil (the sin in my own life) then I don't love God.
Ouch. I have to admit, sometimes I like the sin in my life. I like holding grudges, being spiteful, etc. Chances are that you have some sin in your life that you like as well.
Perhaps we are much more dirty than we ever imagined. Perhaps we don't love God as much as we think we do. Perhaps God is much more gracious and merciful than we ever imagined, that he would save us anyway.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
- 1 John 4:10