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Jonathan Edwards and Personal Holiness Part 4: The Hatred of Sin

June 7, 2007

For Edwards, the hatred of sin is the mark of true religious affection and true revival. There are at least two great times in the life of Edwards where the hatred of sin was a theme of great importance. First, was at Connecticut training school (soon to be Yale), where, as Iain Murray calls it, he had a “new sense of things.” In his “Personal Narrative”, we see that Edwards begins to understand and taste the joy of enjoying God. He writes as 19 or 20 year old:

Never any words of scripture seemed to me as these words did, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17). I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was , and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up in him in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him forever.

But these feelings did not come without a companion. They also came with the conviction and hatred of sin. The “terror” of sin which ruled his life before his conversion and even shortly following it filled his journals and his sermons in his first pastorate at New York. The conviction of sin brought an understanding of the holiness of God which his sin was of such a great offense towards. His great offense brought the understanding of God’s wrath against sin, which left him nowhere to go but grace in the great, bright shining face of Jesus Christ, which would his greatest affection in life.

The second time which the theme of the hatred of sin would be of great importance in his life was the Great Awakening. The Great Awakening was a large revival in New England throughout the early 1740’s, which would soon cause a massive reflection by Edwards on what it meant to be a Christian. This reflection would turn into the book, The Religious Affections.

The preaching of Edwards during the Great Awakening was primarily on the agonizing weight of sin and the glory of Christ as the beautiful remedy. Men and women throughout New England suddenly began to feel the dangers of their sin and desperately sought for the way in which they might be saved. In his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God he says, “Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they won’t bear their weight…. The arrows of death fly unseen at noonday.” The people of New England saw their great need of remedy and all the glory of their salvation was put into the hands of God who sent his Son Jesus Christ to appease his angry and just hands.

One of the marks of a true believer, Edwards would conclude, is being made of the right affections. In his book Religious Affections he listed 10 affections that should be included in the life of the believer: fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion, and zeal. I remember reading that list for the first time and circling “hatred” and putting a question mark next to it, especially because it was accompanied with love, gratitude, and compassion. The affection of hatred was directed towards sin. Simply put, if we love Christ and have directed our affections to him, sin should be the primary object of our hatred. Edwards concludes that we should mourn that fact that we have offended such a holy and righteous God and relish in the grace that makes our soul presentable before Him. Without the hatred of sin, there can be no right thoughts of Christ or God, no honor or glory directed towards him from us, no worship suitable for his praise, only vanity.

We should learn from Edwards in his seriousness of sin. We should be serious concerning our sin in our worship, parenting, discipling, and most of all in our preaching and evangelism. When we biblically display the horror of our sin and offensiveness to God, Jesus is most glorified in the cross. Giving the false message that “we were good enough to die for” is a lie and gives people false pride and takes glory away from the blood of Jesus. We must rightly show our children, the lost, and congregations their disease so that they can fully grasp the remedy of Jesus Christ.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2009 3:54 pm

    Greetings to you..
    Is it possible to obtain this sermon on tape/cd,or to download the sermon please?

    • John Starke permalink*
      December 22, 2009 3:58 pm

      Thomas,
      This series is not a sermon. It is simply a series of blog posts.
      Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

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