Yesterday we saw the first criterion Jonathan Edwards gives in his sermon, “The Way of Holiness,” for how we might evaluate ourselves to see whether or not we are in this “way,” and to encourage our hearts to pursue deeper and more prevailing holiness in our lives. Edwards’s second criterion sounds obvious initially, but the questions he asks to unpack what he means by this criterion are very incisive and wonderfully helpful.
“Is there an agreeableness between your soul and the Word of God? The Bible is the epistle of Christ that he has written to us; now, if the same epistle is also written in our hearts that is written in the Scriptures, it may be found out by comparing. Have you love to all God’s commands and a respect to them in your actions? Is it your delight to obey and hearken to the will of God? Do you obey them of choice? Is it what you would choose to do if God had not threatened to punish the breach of them?” (11).
His final question seem particularly powerful to me. Do we love Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies, or do we merely abide by (or even tolerate) it as a requirement of our creed? Do we cherish the Bible’s exhortation to sexual purity, or do we merely abide by it as something we do not really want but for which we must strive out of fear of punishment? Do we delight in the Bible’s simultaneous condemnation of homosexuality and condemnation of those who do not sincerely love homosexuals more than homosexuals love their homosexuality, or do we feel that these are unfortunate moral decrees of God that must grudingly be embraced? May we so earnestly pray for delight in all of God’s commands what we would be able to cry out with David, “The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:9-10).