UNCONVERTED MEN HATE GOD.
A Sermon by William S. Plumer
The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. — Rom. viii. 7.
Sin is no trifle. It is not an honest mistake. It is wickedness. It is wholly contrary to all that is lovely in the character of God. If it breaks not forth in crimes to be punished by the judges, yet the carnal mind, the unregenerate heart of man, is enmity against God. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." All that is of the flesh and of the world is opposed to God. The words of the text are very strong. They do not say that the natural heart of man has some shyness towards God; but that it is a foe to God, it hates God, his will, his law, his nature. Nothing is more contrary to any other thing than is the carnal heart to the Most High. It is not subject to the law of God. It does not consent to the law that it is good; it does not serve the law; it does not delight in the law; it does not submit to the law. The will of the carnal mind is hostile to the will of God. It is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. Sin cannot be pleased with holiness. A vile heart perverts or opposes all that is pure. Love obeys God. Hatred denies him, and resists him, and rejects him.
Let us think of these things.
I. Men prove their hatred to God by their dislike of sound knowledge concerning him. At two periods in the history of this world, once in the family of Adam and once in the family of Noah, every man on earth had the true knowledge of the true God. But men did not like to retain God in their knowledge. When they knew God they glorified him not as God. For thousands of years God has raised up great numbers of able and faithful men, who have with zeal told the truth, and made known God's word and will. Yet many, even in Christian lands, have not the saving knowledge of God. This great fact cannot be explained, if men do not hate God.
II. Men show their hatred to God by the way in which they treat his name. They often take it in vain. They mingle it up with profane oaths and horrid curses, with their ribaldry, their prejudices, and their religious errors. They use it in jests, and in vile songs, and in mockery. The name of no pest of society is so often lightly spoken of, as is the name of God. No scourge of his race, who involved his native land in civil war, or led his people into ruinous foreign war, is ever named with such hatred as the wicked express toward God. In every city and town and land more slanders are spoken against God than against all others. I have often been struck, on entering a strange place, with the fact that the very first word I heard uttered was something expressive of contempt towards God. I have sometimes remained an hour or a day in such a place, and heard not one word uttered against any but the name of God only.
III. Men prove their hatred to God, because they are unwilling to see his glory advanced. When Joseph's brethren saw that their father tenderly loved him, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him, Gen. xxxvii. 4. And when his prophetic dreams told of his coming greatness, they hated him yet the more for his dreams and for his words ; and they envied him, Gen. xxxvii. 8, 11. The higher he rose, the higher rose their malice. So sinners are grieved when God is honoured. "When the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that Jesus did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, they were sore displeased," Matt. xxi. 15. Why was this? Not because he had taught any error, nor slandered any one, nor wronged any one; but because they hated him with a cruel hatred. Had they loved him, they would have been glad to see others honour him.
IV. Men show their enmity to God by their hatred to his law and his government. They will not have him to reign over them. Every man on earth, if he is without the grace of God, does daily, willingly, and allowedly break the spirit of the moral law and every precept thereof. Where is the unrenewed man that loves the Sabbath, as a day of sacred rest holy unto the Lord? Where is the carnal mind that does not covet whatever it fancies? Not one in a thousand of wicked men do seriously profess any love to the law of God, or declare that they daily aim to meet its demands, or express sorrow when they fail to obey it. Men, not under grace, do cast away from them the cords of divine restraint.
V. If men did not hate God, they would not hate his people as they do. A child of God knows that he has passed from death unto life, because he loves the brethren. But from the days of Cain to this hour, the people of God have been hated, hunted, hounded, slandered, reviled, misjudged, and murdered, till the earth almost everywhere is ready to disclose their blood. The path of every saint has been soaked with his tears for the wickedness of the wicked. Since Christ went up to heaven, more than fifty millions of human beings have suffered violent deaths for their professed subjection to the Saviour. If men loved God, they would not hate his people.
VI. Men prove that they hate God by hating his character, and especially the mild and merciful at tributes of his nature. Everywhere the pious exult in God's almightiness, omniscience, and omnipresence. But the wicked have no hallelujahs for such perfections. The cry of the carnal heart is, "Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us," Isa. .xiii. 1 1 . And when God displays his rich mercy and saving grace in rescuing many sinners and bringing them to hope in his Son, the fleshly mind (unless divinely restrained) rises up in great wrath. How vile must be the heart, that hates a pure revival of gospel holiness. Yet even one sound conversion sometimes stirs up frightful malice. I have known a minister well received by a family when he went to preach a sermon at the death of a godless youth ; but coldly repulsed when he went to tell his conscience-stricken sister what she must do to be saved. VII. The ingratitude of men for God's great and numerous mercies shows their hatred of him. These mercies are both temporal and spiritual. They relate to soul and body, to mind and heart, to health and friends, to life and all things. They cannot be counted up. The best of them cost the life of the Saviour. All of them are the fruits of his bounty. Yet many daily sit down to a table loaded with comforts and never even in words give thanks to God; and many more give thanks in words, but by their wicked lives clearly show that they have no real love to God. VIII. But on this solemn matter God's word is full and clear. Nathan, Asaph, David, and Paul speak of the haters of the Lord, Ps. lxxxi. 15; of the haters of God, Rom. i. 30; of the enemies of the Lord, 2 Sam. xii. 14; and of the enemies of the King, Ps. xlv. 5. There are many other texts that teach the same thing. "He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death," Ps. viii. 36. Again, " Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God," Jas. iv. 4. Paul states it as beyond dispute that before their conversion Jews and Gentiles were enemies, Rom. v. 10. Our Lord himself charged the unconverted of his day with the same enmity: " They have both seen and hated both me and my Father. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also," John xv. 23, 24. This enmity against God is very stout, untiring, pure, and unmixed. It is mortal. It had rather die than love God. If it could, it would dethrone the Almighty.
1. We see the nature of sin. It is war with God. It is dreadful wickedness.
2. It will be just in God to punish those who thus hate him. Not a curse does he denounce against the ungodly beyond what equity demands.
3. It is evident that men must be born again or perish. They are in their minds and by wicked works enemies to God. They never can see his face in peace unless they are renewed in the temper of their minds, their enmity slain and love planted in their hearts. How could God's foes assure their hearts before him if they could not submit to him on earth? Could they delight in him in heaven? Baptism, seeing sights and visions, hearing sounds and voices, shouting and professing flaming love, will save no soul. No thing short of a real, great, inward, mighty, thorough, spiritual change will meet the case of any man. That change must take place soon. Ere long it will be said: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still," Rev. xxii. 11.
4. We are not saved by finite power. Sinners "are like the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ear; which will nor hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely," Ps. lviii. 4, 5. It requires more than sweet music to raise the dead. An arm of flesh is not strong enough to save a soul. God must do the whole work, or it will not be done.
5. Truly God is love. No king ever had so bitter enemies. Yet no king ever made to his best friends such gracious offers as God is making to his worst enemies on earth. He actually gives us food, raiment, shelter, and friends as if we were not wholly undeserving. In providing a Saviour, his goodness surpasses all names of love. "For a good man some would even dare to die; but God commendeth his love to us in that while we were yet enemies, Christ died for the ungodly." And how long he continues his offers of pardon and mercy. Verily, he endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. O sinner, sinner, turn and live.
Sermon 6 from Short Sermons For The People, London, 1872