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CHAPTER 9

ATTRIBUTES OF HOLINESS—HATRED OF SIN

Holiness is not indifference. One who is truly holy does not feel that he has done his duty by simply abstaining from sin. True Holiness is not that easy, good-natured disposition that smiles at sin, and gives it ample toleration, especially if it is fashionable or popular, or capable of being turned to account in “building up the church,” that is, adding to its numbers or influence. There was a great deal of this spurious kind of holiness in this country in the palmy days of slavery. You may search volume after volume of its literature deigned for circulation in the South, without finding one bold, and outspoken denunciation of the sin of slave-holding. You might have attended the “holiness meeting,” week after week, without hearing one prayer offered for the liberation of the slaves, or one testimony borne against the “sum of all villainies.” No farther south than the city of New York, at no later a date than soon after President Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation, you might have heard a brother called to order in the leading “holiness meeting” for thanking God for this proclamation which struck the fetters from three millions of bondmen.

The same kind of holiness is popular today. It valorously kicks the dead lion, but is very careful not to excite the anger of the living jackal. It hardly gives a passing notice to some of the greatest obstacles to the work of holiness in this country. If it mentions them, it is done so faintly as scarcely to attract attention. If it objects to them, it is in such weak tones as not to displease their most ardent votaries. We have attended a holiness camp-meeting without hearing one word said in condemnation of the practice now so common among professed Christians, of adorning themselves “in gold and pearls and costly array.” Everything was said in commendation of the beauty of holiness and of its exalting influence upon human character, but nothing to show the incongruity with it, of that pride which the Bible so strongly condemns. It is no uncommon thing to see even advocates of holiness adorned in a style that would, fifty years ago, have excluded them from the Church whose interests they are now laboring so zealously to promote.

True holiness is not blind. It has eyes to see, and ears to hear. While not obtrusive, it is observing. If it does not act the part of a detective: it does not assume the ignorance of an accessory. While not skeptical, it is not credulous. It does not call every thing gold that glitters. It tries those who say they are apostles, and readily consents to be tried in turn. It does not accept professions merely because the manners are pleasing, and the words are faultless.

Scriptural holiness implies hatred of sin. This is one of the points in which it differs from mere natural amiability. It is not that easy, good nature that smiles at vices it would not itself commit. It offers a stern resistance to sin in all its guises. It stands like a rock against the popular waves of iniquity. It does not give place to the devil. Satan cannot have his way undisputed in the presence of holiness. It maintains its ground against all odds and under all circumstances.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.”—Prov. 8:13Ye that love the Lord hate evil.”—Ps. 97:10

One who is truly holy hates the first appearance of sin in himself. His conscience is as quick as the apple of the eye. A sinful thought, even when suggested by Satan and instantly repelled by the mind, gives him more uneasiness than a sinful action did before his conscience was purged from dead works. The one evil which he dreads above all others is sin. He shuns it as he would the open pit to which it leads. He cries out with the Psalmist:

I hate every false way.”—Ps. 119:104.

And again,

I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love.Ps. 119:113

So Bunyan truly says, “Where the grace of God is in the heart it shows itself by inclining the soul to abhor sin.”

He hates sin in others. No matter with what talents, or accomplishments, or position it may be joined, he abhors it utterly. The popularity of the sinner does not mitigate the repugnance which he feels on account of his sins. There is no malice in his hatred, but the holy soul feels an instinctive aversion to sin, no matter how polished may be its appearance.

Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.”—Ps. 1.39:21, 22

This does not imply angry, malevolent feelings, but a settled aversion of soul toward the haters of God. As to his chosen companions, the Psalmist says,

I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.”—Ps. 119:63

Hatred of sin is essential to the aggressiveness that belongs to the Christian character. No disciple of Christ can settle down, and enjoy himself, without making any effort to do good to others. He that has found Christ will proclaim Christ.

Let him that heareth say, Come.”—Rev. 22:17

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”—Matt. 12:30

But unless one feels a hatred to sin he will not make war upon sin. A man who goes to the bar and drinks water, while his friend drinks whiskey may be personally temperate; but he certainly cannot be a very warm advocate of temperance. It was when Paul saw that the city was wholly given, to idolatry that his spirit was stirred within him, and he preached to them the true and living God. Luther would never have been a reformer, had not his indignation been aroused against the sinful practices of the Church. He made war upon the sale of indulgences because he hated the sins that were thus encouraged. One who sees little or no harm in pride will not insist upon humility. He who thinks that a conspiracy of the strong against the weak, the union of believers with unbelievers, cemented by the most awful oaths and penalties, is a matter of so little importance as not to be worthy to be looked into, will not oppose secret societies with any earnestness.

So of sin in all its manifestations; until it is seen to be “exceeding sinful,” and hateful, no vigorous effort will be made for its overthrow. Revivals will dwindle down into periodical efforts to promote the interests of each particular sect, and the converts, instead of being made happy in God, will become at best only the zealous proselytes of the favorite opinion.

Hatred of sin will necessarily expose a person to persecution. It cannot be otherwise. Satan will never surrender without a struggle. If he is attacked he will attack in turn. He will return blow for blow. He has no scruples and feels no pity. No lie, if only it is clothed with probability, will be too great or glaring for him to employ. No character can be too well established for him to assail. When he cannot use violence he will make the most of defamation; of all the arts of which he is a most consummate master. He is ever the relentless enemy of all good. Hence the Apostle declares,

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.II Tim. 3:12

This is a general declaration. It applies to all time and all places. It must hold good as long as holiness is opposed to sin. No degree of wisdom or prudence can enable one to escape this consequence of a godly life. If you have met with no persecution it is an alarming symptom. It shows that there is an essential element wanting in your religious experience. You do not hate sin.

Hatred to sin secures the comfort of the Holy Ghost. There is no joy like that which He imparts.

“A peace to sensual minds unknown, A joy unspeakable.”

With this in the heart one can go through any thing that in the Providence of God he is called upon to suffer or endure. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Yet many professed Christians know nothing about this joy. They have never felt it themselves and when they witness it in others it looks to them like fanaticism or wild-fire. The reason they have never felt it is, they have never been sufficiently given up to God to obey Him in every thing, to secure the comfort of the Holy Ghost.

Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”—Ps. 45:7

Heb. 1:9. To be “anointed with the oil of gladness” it is not enough to love righteousness. If you stop there you will not receive it. You must go a step farther and become a partaker of so much of the divine holiness as will make you hate wickedness. Then, when you take your stand against it; when you meet, unmovable as a rock, the billows of wickedness, God will pour up on you the oil of gladness to that degree that you will not heed the sufferings you will endure for your fidelity to Christ. You will have the martyr spirit.

Hatred to sin will enable you to stand true to God under all circumstances. You will not backslide. As long as sin looks odious you will not embrace it. While you fight sin in real earnest, because it is sin against God, you will not become its friend. It is the half-hearted renunciation of sin which causes so many to fall away. Lot, in Sodom, maintained his integrity because

in seeing and hearing, he vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.”—II Pet. 2:8

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