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Imperfect Hate


Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

—Luke 13:3

David Clarkson lists three characteristics of genuine repentance: sorrow for sin, hatred of sin, and turning from sin to Christ. Concerning hatred of sin, we may observe that we don’t hate it enough, that, in fact, we still find some attraction to it. We may, then, worry that our repentance is not adequate. Clarkson writes,


All hatred of sin is here imperfect. No perfection in this life, but sense of imperfection. Both graces, and gracious affections, want many degrees of perfection. Grace is but of a child s stature, it has perfection of parts, but not of degrees. A child has all the parts of a perfect man, but wants many degrees of man s perfection. And as with grace, so with this affection; it is not perfect, either rations objecti; sin is not hated as it should be according to its hatefulness; nor ratione facultatis, so much as it is possible for the heart to hate it; not raised to such high degrees of hatred, as it may be will be.

. . .

He that truly hates sin, though but imperfectly, cannot be properly said to love it. He that hates all sin, and hates it above all that the world counts hateful, and abhors himself that he can hate it no more, and mourns for the imperfection of his hatred, and strives in the use of appointed means to perfect it, does truly hate it.

In the same subject there cannot be contrary affections to the same object. We count it impossible to love and hate the same thing or person. . . . He that hates does not love, &c. It is as impossible, as for the same thing to be both black and white; the same water to be at once both hot and cold. It may be neither, but it cannot be both; if one, not the other. So here, and though hatred be but in us in a remiss degree, imperfectly, and it may be supposed the imperfection arises from the mixture of the contrary affection, yet that which is predominant gives the denomination. He that hates sin more than he loves it, may be said simply absolutely to hate it. We say not water is cold if it be hot above lukewarmness, though it be not hot in the utmost extremity. We say not that he loves sin who hates it truly, though not perfectly. If he be overpowered to act it, surprised with some pleasure in it, this argues not love. For he abhors himself acting, mourns bitterly for delight in it, as Paul, Rom. vii.

—David Clarkson, Of Repentance, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:38–39.


For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

—Romans 7:15ff

Posted 2017·08·23 by David Kjos
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Posted in: David Clarkson · Repentance · Simul Iustus et Peccator · Works of David Clarkson

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