Want of Love to God
But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. - John v:42.
What a world is this! God made it, and yet it is full of rational creatures, very few of whom have any love for him. They love other objects. They love fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, but for the God who made them they have never felt one emotion of affection, They love earthly honor, wealth and pleasure, but they do not love supreme excellence. They even love sin, infinitely odious as it is, but the transcendent perfection of the divine character excites within them no admiration. Alas! how this want of love to God clothes our world with disgrace, and makes it bear a striking resemblance to hell itself.
I. Sinners are Destitute of Love to God.
This humiliating proposition it is my purpose to establish. Its truth will appear from several considerations.
1. Sinners do not indulge frequent and affectionate thoughts of God. - Paul informs us that sinners, anciently, "did not like to retain God in their
knowledge." It is still true, that the ungodly do not like to know God or think of him. What multitudes spend days and months without any serious thoughts of God! How is it to be accounted for? Do we banish from our thoughts objects that we love? We do not. But you may say you do think of God. Are your thoughts affectionate thoughts? Impenitent sinner, they are not. You may think with interest of the natural attributes of God, and yet hate him on account of his moral perfections. You have no love to God unless you love his moral character. Nor will it do for you to love the moral character which you may ascribe to him, but you must love his moral character as revealed in his Word. So far as frequent and affectionate thoughts of God are concerned, I charge it on you, sinners, that you do not treat hirn as you treat objects you love. This shows that you do not love him.
2. Their treatment of the Word of God indicates that sinners do not love him. - Many of them ridicule the Bible, others profess a veneration for it on account of its antiquity. Perhaps I may say the Bible is respected by a majority of the inhabitants of our country. But how few acquaint themselves with its pages! How few are the students of the Bible! Many of its most important truths sinners neither believe nor love. They do not believe they are as depraved and vile as the Bible declares them to be. They do not love the humbling doctrine of salvation by
grace. They would rather read almost any other book than the Bible. Is it not evident, then, that they do not love the Author of the Bible? Would they treat the communication of a friend they love as they treat the Word of God? Certainly not. Love to that friend would forbid it. And love to God would preclude a course disparaging and depreciatory of the Bible.
3. Sinners do not love to hold intercourse with God by prayer. - The throne of grace is the place at which God holds spiritual interviews with his people, but it has no attractions for sinners. They do not love to pray. Prayer is to them a wearisome exercise. Why is this? It is a pleasure to hold converse with those we love. Why, then, do not sinners gladly avail themselves of intercourse with God by prayer? Because they do not love him? This is emphatically the reason; for every man who loves God loves to pray. No one who loves God lives a prayerless life. Prayerless souls are destitute of love to the God who hears prayer. Is it not manifest that those who restrain prayer before God do not love him?
4. Sinners do not aim to please God. - The principle of selfishness predominates in their hearts. They act chiefly with a view to their own gratification. They sometimes act with a view to please others, but their great object is to please themselves. And why? Because they love themselves supremely. We always desire to please those we love. The son who loves his father desires to please him and enjoy his approbation.
It is so of the scholar in regard to the teacher - it is so of the soldier in reference to the general. Why is it, then, that sinners do not care to please God - do not make it the great business of their lives to please him? Evidently because they do not love him. And, sinners, I bring the charge against you, that you do nothing with a view to please God. You have performed ten thousand acts, and your words have been more numerous than your acts, while your thoughts have been innumerable; but you have performed no act, you have spoken no word, you have indulged no thought that you might please God. What horrible depravity must reign in your hearts! If Jesus were here he would say of you, as of the wicked Jews, "I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you."
5. Their rejection of Christ as the Savior, shows that sinners have no love to God. - In the verse succeeding the text Jesus says, "I am come in my Father's name and ye receive me not," intimating that their rejection of him arose from want of love to the Father. It is characteristic of sinners in gospel lands to reject Christ. The prophetic declaration is fully verified - "he is despised and rejected of men." He is "disallowed of men," - "a stone of stumbling and rock of offense." Sinners are ashamed of Christ in this adulterous and sinful generation. Why is it so? They do not love God. If they loved God they would love what he loves, and he loves his Son with a strength of affection which no finite intellect
can comprehend. And love to God would induce a most cordial acquiescence in the plan of salvation through Christ. God devised this plan, - it is his great work; on it his heart is fixed, - and in every part of it may be seen his infinite love. How, then, is a refusal to be saved, according to this plan, consistent with love to God! It is not. It can not be. Can those who love God reject the Son of his love? Impossible. And, therefore, when sinners reject Christ as the Savior, they give the clearest evidence that they are destitute of love to God. "He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father who sent him." Jesus said of the wicked Jews, "They have hated both me and my Father." Nor did he ever refer to it as a possible thing that he could be rejected by a lover of God. Sinners, you are rejecting Christ, and from this it is certain the love of God is not in you.
6. Sinners do not obey the commandments of God. - Do they ever inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have us to do?" Never. They care not to do what he requires. "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." That is, this proves our love. Where, then, is the proof that sinners who do not keep the commandments of God love him? There is a perfect absence of all proof. The man who lives in disobedience to God is under the dominion of the carnal mind, and the carnal mind is at enmity against God. This enmity is the germ of all disobedience and rebellion, while love, its opposite, secures a conscientious
observance of the divine commands. Sinners, you are disobedient to God, and therefore you do not love him. Jesus would have spoken to you just as he did to the Jews, if you had been present when he uttered the words of the text.
1. How great, how appalling is human depravity? Hence the destitution of love to God, of which we have now spoken and heard. This destitution of love to God is the essence of moral depravity.
2. How reasonable is the doctrine of repentance! Deeply and bitterly should every sinner repent that he has not loved God.
3. Want of love to God disqualifies for heaven. Who could enjoy heaven without love for the Being whose presence constitutes heaven?
4. Want of love to God is a "token of perdition." None love him in hell.
[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via ILL through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]
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