Written by, Thomas Watson.
Taken from, “THE DOCTRINE OF REPENTANCE.”
Published in 1668.
In this series we are looking at all the ingredients necessary for true repentance. In today’s thoughts, we are looking at Hatred for sin. Today, observe how Thomas Watson paints sin in its “blackest black.” Now, let us look again at the fifth of these respective ingredients. –MWP]
1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin
REMEMBER: If any one ingredient is left out, repentance loses its virtue.
Ingredient 5. HATRED of Sin
Firstly, there is a hatred or loathing of ABOMINATIONS:
“Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices!” (Ezek. 36:31). A true penitent is a sin-loather. If a man loathes that which makes his stomach sick, much more will he loathe that which makes his soul sick! It is greater to loathe sin—than to leave it. One may leave sin for fear, as in a storm the jewels are cast overboard—but the nauseating and loathing of sin argues a detestation of it. Christ is never loved—until sin is loathed. Heaven is never longed for—until sin is loathed. When the soul sees its filthiness, he cries out, “Lord, when shall I be freed from this body of death! When shall I put off these filthy garments of sin—and be arrayed in the robe of Your perfect righteousness! Let all my self-love be turned into self-loathing!” (Zech. 3:4-5). We are never more precious in God’s eyes—than when we are lepers in our own eyes!
Secondly, there is a hatred of ENMITY.
There is no better way to discover life—than by motion. The eye moves, the pulse beats. So to discover repentance there is no better sign than by a holy antipathy against sin. Sound repentance begins in love to God—and ends in the hatred of sin. How may true hatred of sin be known?
1. When a man’s HEART is set against sin.
Not only does the tongue protest against sin—but the heart abhors it. However lovely sin is painted—we find it odious—just as we abhor the picture of one whom we mortally hate, even though it may be well drawn. Suppose a dish be finely cooked and the sauce good—yet if a man has an antipathy against the meat—he will not eat it. So let the devil cook and dress sin with pleasure and profit—yet a true penitent has a secret abhorrence of it, is disgusted by it, and will not meddle with it.
2. True hatred of sin is UNIVERSAL.
True hatred of sin is universal in two ways: in respect of the faculties, and of the object.
(1) Hatred is universal in respect of the faculties. That is, there is a dislike of sin not only in the judgment—but in the will and affections. Many a one is convinced that sin is a vile thing, and in his judgment has an aversion to it—yet he tastes sweetness in it—and has a secret delight in it. Here is a disliking of sin in the judgment and an embracing of it in the affections! Whereas in true repentance, the hatred of sin is in all the faculties, not only in the intellectual part—but chiefly in the will: “I do the very thing I hate!” (Romans 7:15). Paul was not free from sin—yet his will was against it.
(2) Hatred is universal in respect of the object. He who truly hates one sin—hates all sins. He who hates a serpent—hates all serpents. “I hate every false way!” (Psalm 119:104). Hypocrites will hate some sins which mar their credit. But a true convert hates all sins—gainful sins, complexion sins, the very stirrings of corruption. Paul hated the motions of sin within him (Romans 7:23).
3. True hatred against sin is against sin in all forms.
A holy heart detests sin for its intrinsic pollution. Sin leaves a stain upon the soul. A regenerate person abhors sin not only for the curse—but for the contagion. He hates this serpent not only for its sting but for its poison. He hates sin not only for hell—but as hell.
4. True hatred is IMPLACABLE.
It will never be reconciled to sin any more. Anger may be reconciled—but hatred cannot. Sin is that Amalek which is never to be taken into favor again. The war between a child of God and sin is like the war between those two princes: “there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days” (1 Kings 14:30).
5. Where there is a real hatred, we not only oppose sin in ourselves but in OTHERS too.
The church at Ephesus could not bear with those who were evil (Rev. 2:2). Paul sharply censured Peter for his deception, although he was an apostle. Christ in a holy anger, whipped the money-changers out of the temple (John 2:15). He would not allow the temple to be made an exchange. Nehemiah rebuked the nobles for their usury (Neh. 5:7) and their Sabbath profanation (Neb. 13:17).
A sin-hater will not endure wickedness in his family: “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house” (Psalm 101:7). What a shame it is when magistrates can show height of spirit in their passions—but no heroic spirit in suppressing vice.
Those who have no antipathy against sin, are strangers to repentance. Sin is in them—as poison in a serpent, which, being natural to it, affords delight. How far are they from repentance who, instead of hating sin, love sin! To the godly—sin is as a thorn in the eye; to the wicked sin is as a crown on the head! “They actually rejoice in doing evil!” (Jer. 11:15).
Loving of sin is worse than committing it. A good man may run into a sinful action unawares—but to love sin is desperate. What is it, which makes a swine love to tumble in the mire? Its love of filth. To love sin shows that the will is in sin, and the more of the will there is in a sin, the greater the sin. Willfulness makes it a sin not to be purged by sacrifice (Heb. 10:26). O how many there are—who love the forbidden fruit! They love their oaths and adulteries; they love the sin and hate the reproof. Solomon speaks of a generation of men: “madness is in their heart while they live” (Eccles. 9:3). So for men to love sin, to hug that which will be their death, to sport with damnation, “madness is in their heart”. It persuades us to show our repentance, by a bitter hatred of sin. There is a deadly antipathy between the scorpion and the crocodile; such should there be between the heart and sin.
Question: What is there in sin, which may make a penitent hate it?
Answer: Sin is the accursed thing, the most deformed monster. The apostle Paul uses a very emphatic word to express it: “that sin might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans 7:13), or as it is in the Greek, “exaggeratedly sinful”. That sin is an exaggerated mischief, and deserves hatred will appear if we look upon sin as a fourfold conceit:
(1) Look upon the origin of sin, from whence it comes. It fetches its pedigree from hell: “He who commits sin is of the devil!” (1 John 3:8). Sin is the devil’s special work. God has a hand in ordering sin, it is true—but Satan has a hand in acting it out. How hateful is it to be doing that which is the special work of the devil, indeed, that which makes men into devils!
(2) Look upon sin in its nature, and it will appear very hateful. See how scripture has penciled sin out: it is a dishonoring of God (Romans 2:23 ); a despising of God (1 Sam. 2:30); a fretting of God (Ezek. 16:43); a wearying of God (Isaiah 7:13); a grieving the heart of God, as a loving husband is with the unchaste conduct of his wife: “I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols” (Ezek. 6:9). Sin, when acted to the height, is a crucifying Christ afresh and putting him to open shame (Heb. 6:6), that is, impudent sinners pierce Christ in his saints, and were he now upon earth they would crucify him again in his person. Behold the odious nature of sin.
(3) Look upon sin in its comparison, and it appears ghastly. Compare sin with AFFLICTION and hell, and it is worse than both. It is worse than affliction, sickness, poverty, or death. There is more malignity in a drop of sin than in a sea of affliction—for sin is the cause of affliction, and the cause is more than the effect. The sword of God’s justice lies quiet in the scabbard—until sin draws it out! Affliction is good for us: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” (Psalm 119:71). Affliction causes repentance (2 Chron. 33:12). The viper, being stricken, casts up its poison. Just so, when God’s rod strikes us with affliction, we spit away the poison of sin! Affliction betters our grace. Gold is purest, and juniper sweetest—when in the fire. Affliction prevents damnation. “We are being disciplined—so that we will not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32). Therefore, Maurice the emperor prayed to God to punish him in this life—that he might not be punished hereafter.
Thus, affliction is in many ways for our good—but there is no good in sin. Manasseh’s affliction brought him to humiliation and repentance—but Judas’ sin brought him to desperation and damnation. Affliction only reaches the body—but sin goes further: it poisons the mind, disorders the affections. Affliction is but corrective; sin is destructive. Affliction can but take away the life; sin takes away the soul (Luke 12:20).
A man who is afflicted may have his conscience quiet. When the ark was tossed on the flood waves, Noah could sing in the ark. When the body is afflicted and tossed, a Christian can “make melody in his heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). But when a man commits sin, conscience is terrified. Witness Spira, who upon his abjuring the faith, said that he thought the damned spirits did not feel those torments which he inwardly endured. In affliction, one may have the love of God (Rev. 3:19). If a man should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it should hurt him a little—he will not take it unkindly—but will look upon it as a fruit of love. Just so, when God bruises us with affliction—it is to enrich us with the golden graces and comforts of his Spirit. All is in love. But when we commit sin, God withdraws his love. When David sinned, he felt nothing but displeasure from God: “Clouds and thick darkness surround him” (Psalm 97:2). David found it so. He could see no rainbow, no sunbeam, nothing but clouds and darkness about God’s face.
That sin is worse than affliction is evident, because the greatest judgment God lays upon a man in this life is to let him sin without control. When the Lord’s displeasure is most severely kindled against a person, he does not say, I will bring the sword and the plague on this man—but, I will let him sin on: “I gave them up unto their own hearts lust, living according to their own desires” (Psalm 81:12). Now, if the giving up of a man to his sins (in the account of God himself) is the most dreadful evil, then sin is far worse than affliction. And if it is so, then how should it be hated by us!
Compare sin with HELL, and you shall see that sin is worse. Torment has its epitome in hell—yet nothing in hell is as bad as sin. Hell is of God’s making—but sin is not of God’s making. Sin is the devil’s creature. The torments of hell are a burden only to the sinner—but sin is a burden to God. In the torments of hell, there is something that is good, namely, the execution of divine justice. There is justice to be found in hell—but sin is a piece of the highest injustice. It would rob God of his glory, Christ of his purchase, the soul of its happiness. Judge then if sin is not a most hateful thing—which is worse than affliction, or the torments of hell.
(4) Look upon sin in the CONSEQUENCE, and it will appear hateful. Sin reaches the BODY. It has exposed it to a variety of miseries. We come into the world with a cry—and go out with a groan! It made the Thracians weep on their children’s birthday—to consider the calamities they were to undergo in the world. Sin is the Trojan horse out of which comes a whole army of troubles. I need not name them because almost everyone feels them. While we suck the honey—we are pricked with the briar. Sin puts a dreg in the wine of all our comforts. Sin digs our grave (Romans 5:12).
Sin reaches the SOUL. By sin we have lost the image of God, wherein did consist both our sanctity and our majesty. Adam in his pristine glory, was like a herald who has his king’s coat of arms upon him. All reverence him because he carries the king’s coat of arms—but pull this coat off, and no man regards him. Sin has done this disgrace to us. It has plucked off our coat of innocency. But that is not all. This virulent arrow of sin would strike yet deeper. It would forever separate us from the beautiful vision of God, in whose presence is fullness of joy. If sin be so foully sinful, it should stir up our implacable indignation against it. As Ammon’s hatred of Tamar was greater than the love with which he had loved her (2 Sam. 13:15), so we should hate sin infinitely more, than ever we loved it.