ONE of the earliest proofs of a genuine repentant heart before God will be a self-loathing on account of sin. Once God's people reveled in it; breathed freely its atmosphere, tainted as it was. They loved the world, and the things of the world. It was their element, and in it they thought they were happy. But now, called of God, how changed the heart! The sweet morsels of sin that they relished before are now bitter as gall to their taste, and it is a deep lament to them that they have lived so many years in sin. Oh, what a mercy that "where sin abounded grace did much more abound!" (Rom. 5:20)
But then, I think it is as we grow in that grace that sin becomes more apparent to us. We seem, in the earlier stages of divine life, to realize the nature and guilt of sin; but in more matured experience we learn the exceeding sinfulness of sin. This is borne out in Ezekiel's vision of the chambers of imagery, "Turn thee yet again," said the angel unto Ezekiel, "and thou shalt see greater abominations than these." (Ezek. 8:15) And so it is that, as the shutter of the heart becomes widened, and more light is let in, discoveries of uncleanness are made which we did not know existed, and the heart is felt to be a cage of unclean birds indeed. Ah! how this must drive us to feel our unworthiness, and God's mercy and goodness to us; sin does become a hateful thing, and we hide ourselves in the dust of self-abasement on account of it.
And then, further, the Lord's Spirit-taught people hate also every false way in religion; and, verily, false ways, God-dishonoring ways, and unscriptural ways, abound in the present day. Oh, dear reader, may our religion be a religion of principle, of power, of possession, of peace, and of practice. I will tell you what I mean. May it be a religion of principle? May we be kept to the good old Gospel principles that did for our forefathers, and which will do for us, "the faith once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 1:3) Yes, once, and once for all, and we need no other.
A religion of power. Yes, the power of the Holy Ghost, regenerating and bringing to continued repentance before God, renewing daily by His gifts and graces, and revealing Christ unto us in all His beauty and perfection.
A religion of peace, for nothing can bring peace but a faith's realization of Christ as our Redeemer. He is our peace; and this, too, is our true source of comfort in a world of continued fret and unrest. Lord, let Thy sweet peace flow into our souls.
A religion of possession. The oil in the lamps fed by the Holy Spirit; the life of God in the soul, quickened by the same power. So many are satisfied with the outward; we crave the inward. And outward religion will shut us out of heaven; an inward religion will take us in with the Bridegroom, to be one with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Nor would we desire it otherwise, than that our religion should be a religion of practice, that the world should mark that there is in us that which they have not. And, although they may hate our religion, they shall be bound to say we are true to that religion. One thought more. May our religion be a religion of prospect--a living not for time, but for eternity, with no doubts or fears about that eternity? The Lord has promised us an eternity of bliss with Himself. Why should we doubt it?
And again, referring to the children of God as loathing themselves on account of sin, I am perfectly certain of this--that it is a good sign; for the two elements of a grace-wrought change are, "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21) And it is in our felt sinnership we learn so much of creature helplessness on the one side, and omnipotent power on the other. How some profess to have got into a pathway of creature holiness, I cannot understand. My feeling is, that in self I am as black as the tents of Kedar, (Ps. 120:5; Songs 1:5) but in Christ, spotless as "the curtains of Solomon." (Songs 1:5) Here's where my holiness lies, even in Him; and I can find nothing of it within apart from Him. It is the life of God in the soul that cannot sin. Otherwise, in the old Adam nature, there is plenty of it, and I believe that my first cry of the new life will be my last cry--"God be merciful unto me a sinner!"
May the Lord keep us tender-hearted on account of sin, and ever repentant before Him.
Do these things fit into your experience, dear reader? If so, God be praised, for it is the Spirit's work to convince of sin.