Hate More and Kill Better

Today’s post is sponsored by BJU Seminary and written by Renton Rathbun, who directs BJU’s Center for Biblical Worldview, contributes to the Seminary’s apologetics program, and speaks across the country on biblical worldview and apologetics. BJU Seminary equips Christian leaders through an educational and ministry experience that is biblically shaped, theologically rich, historically significant, and evangelistically robust.

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We live in a world where 62% of American pastors have a syncretistic worldview. It was pastors who enabled the success of the Revoice movement, which is responsible for grooming young men and women into embracing a gay identity within Christianity. And currently, there is a dwindling confidence in pastors’ spiritual credibility.

Now more than ever, the American church is in desperate need of pastors who are ready to address a simple fact: the Church has come to despise holiness. Yes, the Church at large seems fond of God’s love and goodness, but holiness leaves a bitter taste in her mouth.

Many fear pursuing holiness will make us unrelatable, robotic, and judgy. Yet, the most sobering statement of 1 John 2:1–6 is that the first and primary exhortation is to stop sinning. Yes, if we do sin, we have an Advocate. But John wrote his epistle principally so that his people “may not sin.”

When we do speak of practical matters of holiness, we often explain our way into retaining at least some sin. When 1 Timothy 2:12 forbids women “to exercise authority over a man” in the church, we roll out our feminists to help us see that “authority” is misunderstood by conservatives. When Romans 1:26–27 speaks of the sin of homosexuality and its “vile affections,” we roll out our same-sex-attracted pastors to help us see that only the act of sodomy is a sin, not the attraction part.

The Church is losing the skill of hating and killing. We do not hate sin as God does, so we do not kill it. We might condemn parts of it—but hating and killing it goes too far. Yet, God says He hates the work of those who sin (Ps. 101:3; 119:104). He hates abominations (Prov. 6:16–19; Jer. 44:4). He hates the planning of evil (Zach. 8:17). And God has instructed us to hate evil (Ps. 97:10), even abhor it (Rom. 12:9).

Our worldview is confused, so our compassion has become confused. In attempting to show compassion for those who are tangled up in sin, we have begun showing compassion for sin itself. As my pastor once stated, “When we forget the sinfulness of sin and God’s own hatred for it, we forget the cost of sin for the Son of God.”

How can we kill what we have become accustomed to? How can we assassinate that which we have been pining after? We need a biblical worldview of holiness. The puritan John Owen confronts us, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you!”

Pastors, do not give up. Do not give in. Do not go gently into the night. Fight for holiness in your own heart (1 Pet. 3:15) and in the hearts of your congregations (1 Pet. 1:15–16). Fight because you love God. Fight because you love your people. Turn your people into killers of sin, or it will be killing them.

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