In Tuesday’s post, I expressed my fear that many in the American evangelical church have twisted the great doctrine of justification by faith into an excuse for complacency in the pursuit of holiness. To aid in combatting this tendency, Jonathan Edwards gives a third and final reason for why “none that are not holy can be in the way to heaven, and why those who never are so can never obtain the happiness thereof” (7):
“The nature of sin necessarily implies misery. That soul that remains sinful must of a necessity remain miserable, for it is impossible [that] there should be any happiness where such a hateful thing as sin reigns and bears rule. Sin is the most cruel tyrant that ever ruled, seeks nothing but the misery of his subjects; as in the very keeping [of] God’s commands there is great reward, so in the very breaking of them there is great punishment. Sin is a woeful confusion and dreadful disorder of the soul, whereby everything is out of place, reason trampled under foot and passion advanced in [place] of it, conscience dethroned and abominable lusts reigning. As long as it is so, there will unavoidably be a dreadful confusion and perturbation of the mind; the soul will be full of worries, perplexities, uneasiness, storms and frights, and thus it must necessarily be to all eternity, [unless] the Spirit of God puts all to rights” (9).
And so, we plead with the Spirit of God to come and do his great work in us to “will and to work for his good pleasure,” that we might “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12-13).