In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Recently, we’ve been looking at the mediation Christ makes for his church and we’ve seen that part of Christ’s mediation is granting repentance. We learnt that repentance involves sensing the danger and filthiness of sin, apprehending God’s mercy and grieving over sin. But what else does repentance involve?
Repentance includes a hatred of sin.
The Old Testament regularly tells God’s people to hate sin. The prophet Amos says: ‘Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts’ (Amos 5:14-15).
The Psalmist also says ‘Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked’ (Psalm 97:10).
Paul, in the New Testament also speaks about the repentance shown by the church in Corinth. The believers had allowed great sin in their church, but because of Paul’s words they were brought to repentance, a repentance that was eager to hate sin (as implied in v11): ‘8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it– I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while– 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.
10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter’ (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
Paul is even clearer in his words to the church in Rome: ‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good’ (Romans 12:9). The Greek word translated in this verse as ‘hate’ means ‘to have a vehement dislike for something’ or ‘to strongly abhor it’.
And a hatred for sin makes sense to the repentant. If you realise the danger of your sin and its filthiness, there should be a disgust and hatred of it.
Thus, Peter warns that the unrepentant are like animals returning to their filth: ‘It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud’ (2 Peter 2:21-22). If a person does not hate sin and continues going back to it, they are behaving like a dog or a pig.
So, have you repented with a hatred toward your sin? Or do you still love your sinful ways?