Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good.
I. "LET LOVE BE WITHOUT DISSIMULATION," i.e. without any of that pretence which goes by the name of acting. Actors represent characters which are not their own without intending to deceive; but in proportion to the excellence of their performance is the degree of illusion in the beholder. Be sure that you are not merely acting a part in your kindness to men or reverence to God. Feel what you profess to feel. Think as you seem to think. Else is your life little other than stage play.
1. How do men commonly express their love of God? By prayers, praises, honouring God's Word and day and ordinances. But what if whilst they do all these things outwardly their hearts be far from God?
2. As to our love towards each other: what can be more like acting than to conceal our dislike by words of overstrained civility, or to offer a kindness which we wish never to have to do, or to inflict chastisement on the plea of duty, when we are all the while gratifying revenge?
II. "ABHOR THAT WHICH IS EVIL." Here we see what Christians are allowed to hate and how far they may carry their hatred.
1. To wish that we might sin safely, to go as near to sin as seems anyhow allowable, and to envy the wicked in their prosperity, and when out of fear or prudence we have left off their practices, how far is this from abhorring evil?
2. Questions often arise as to whether it is fitting for a Christian to partake of this amusement, to engage in that employment, or to enter into the other company. In such discussions many argue as if it were desirable to take all the liberty they can. And frequently they act on the presumption that what is easy to argue is safe also to do. But how different would be their conclusion if they would but bear this text in mind! The mere suspicion that any conduct might possibly be wrong, should be quite sufficient ground for us to desist. And where duty may seem to put us in temptation's way, we should at least take all the pains in our power to make it as little tempting to us as possible. We inquire not, when we hear of plague or famine, of battle or murder, which road will take us most into the way of them, but which will lead us altogether farthest off.
3. To abhor evil in our food is to abominate excess; in our drinking, to detest drunkenness; in our dress, to feel finery as great a burden to ourselves, as it is a folly in the eyes of others; in our thoughts, to recoil from uncharitable suspicion and unkind intentions towards men, and from unthankful regards to God; in our speech, to wish rather that our tongue should cleave unto our mouth than utter one word of bitterness or deceit; in our business, to hate idleness, and yet to loathe the very notion of heaping up hoards of wealth; in our dealings, to shrink with antipathy from dishonesty or oppression, and from that love of this present world which is treason to our Saviour Christ.
4. To abhor evil is not merely to avoid it because it is discreditable, not merely to fear to do it lest it should bring us into trouble, but to hate it for its own sake, because God has forbidden it, and especially because it was for the evil of our sins that Christ died on the Cross.
III. CLEAVE TO THAT WHICH IS GOOD.
1. Whatsoever our Lord has revealed to be believed, commanded to be done, given to be obtained on earth, or promised to be enjoyed in heaven, this is that which is good; this is that which we should so love as to cleave to it with the most fond and persevering affection. Constancy is the highest excellence in love (James 1:8; John 13:1; Matthew 24:13; Romans 2:7; 1 Peter 5:9).
2. It is easy to think good thoughts for short seasons: but how easy to do evil between whiles! It is easy to mean well: but how common to act ill! It is easy to form purposes of amendment; but how seldom do these lead to a renewal of life! Let us, then, lay to heart this counsel of the text. When once we have hold of any holy purpose let us never let it go. This is the only safe way to holiness and heaven. We must serve God through Christ continually.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.