To be a reprobate is too awful to contemplate.
Nevertheless we must give serious though to this matter of reprobation. Not only does Scripture teach it and speak frequently of it both by the use of the very word, but also by implication. And in one of the literal uses of the word Paul admonishes us to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. For, he points out, if we are not in the faith, then Christ is not in us. And then we are reprobates! This is his teaching in II Corinthians 13:5. So, although to be a reprobate is too awfulto contemplate, we must give serious thought to thematter of reprobation. And examining ourselves whether we be in the faith also is extremely important.
As to the word reprobate itself, it means “not approved” and stands contrasted in Scripture with election. In Hebrews 6:8 it is translated as “rejected.” And the Canons of Dordrecht in their firm stand against the Arminian denial of eternal and unchangeable election speak in the sections that deal with the rejection of errors of, “The true doctrine of Election and Rejection.”
Now let us observe that Paul does not tell us to hush up this doctrine. He does not say, “Rid your minds of the word. Take it out of your vocabulary; and be sure not to bring it on the pulpit.” Instead he tells us to live in the awareness of this fact of reprobation and to examine ourselves, not because he would frighten us with this truth, but so that we may walk in His fear, and so have the joy of knowing that we are NOT reprobates. He urges the believer in whom Christ is, to walk in sanctification so that he may find Christ to be in Him, and so have the joy of knowing that he is an elect of God.
Many do not concern themselves with this matter of reprobation and do not examine themselves whether they be in the faith. It matters nothing to them. Others examine themselves according to a wrong standard, and these, Jesus teaches us in Matthew 7:21-23, think that they and their works are approved of God. They boast of having done this and that in His name, only to be told to depart because God never knew them, and that only those who do the will of the Father in heaven will enter His kingdom. All this we considered a month ago under the title, “Taking Spiritual Inventory.”
Last time we looked more closely at this matter of doing the will of the Father in heaven and were forced to bring a halt to the matter before we had reached the point we wished to stress. This closer look we treated under the theme, “Doing the Will of the Father. “And our present theme or title is due to the observation which we made last time, namely, that to understand God’s love—for doing the will of the Father means that we walk in love before Him—we must not look at our natural, fleshly love, which is a matter of the emotions, but we must begin with the truth that God IS love, and that He loves Himself. Our love must become like unto His; His love is not something like ours. His love is a matter of His will; and our love to Him must be a matter of our will.
We pointed out that God, Who loves Himself and His Son in our flesh, cannot possibly love those who hate Him and His Son. The very nature of His love is such that as the holy God that He is, He cannot possibly love those who hate Him and hate His Son. His love is an antithetical love. And love in God is never a lesser degree of hatred. Jacob He did not richly love while Esau He loved less. But Jacob He loved and Esau He hated. Romans 9:13. But, refer back to what we wrote last time. We cannot take more time now for this matter.
Let us instead notice a few instances from Scripture itself where men who did not love God, and did not hate sin, who did works which they even claimed to do in God’s name, were banished forever from His blessed presence. There is that false prophet Balaam, who gave us in God’s name such a beautiful promise of the coming of Christ, when he spoke of the Star, which the wise men came to worship after seeing their star in the east. See Numbers 24:17. Yet Balaam did not do this in love to God and in hatred of sin. Just read Numbers 31:1-8, and you will find that at God’s command Moses has Balaam slain with the sword and executed as a reprobate. He prophesied in God’s name, but he did not in love do the will of the Father in heaven.
Jehu is another example of this. Zeal he had in abundance. He cast out many “devils” when he slew every last one of the Baa1 prophets he could lay his hands on, and all the house of wicked Ahab as well. But it was not in hatred of Ahab’s sin and in love to God. It was in love to Jehu. And though outwardly he, according to II Kings 10:30, did well in executing that which was right in God’s eyes, and is told that his sons to the fourth generation will sit on his throne, the very next verse states that “Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart, for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.” Yes, he cast out some “devils.” He destroyed Baa1 and his worship. But he joined himself to other “devils” and their idolatry. Therefore in Hosea 1:4God speaks of avenging the blood of the house of Jehu—and that includes Jehu, the head of that house—and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. The plain meaning of the last part is that Jehu and his house brought the kingdom of Israel closer to its ruin. And Jehu and his house did not enter the Kingdom, for they were not doing the will of the Father in the sense of loving Him and hating sin.
Cyrus, king of Persia, performed the “mighty work” of letting Israel return to the land of Canaan. Herod built a beautiful temple for the Jews in Jerusalem. Yet God never knew them. Their works were not done in a hatred of sin and in a love to God; and they were told at the moment of death, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
Let us get it straight, then. Unless we perform a work in love toward God and His Son, it is not pleasing in God’s sight, and will receive no reward of grace. With all kinds of works in God’s name that are void of His love, we still will not enter His kingdom.
Applied now to us (for we are to examine ourselves; and these examples are only to show the fact of the matter that simply calling Him Lord with our mouths but not living before Him as our Lord will not reveal that Christ is in us) this truth means that we must find ourselves a hatred for sin, and for the sinner as God’s enemy.
Here is one qualification which we must make between God’s love and ours. God hates sin and the sinner. You and I must hate sin and the sinner as God’s enemy. As far as he is our neighbor, as far as being our enemy is concerned, we must love him and do him good. As far as being God’s enemy we can only hate the sinner and may not love him. Listen to what the inspired psalmist said in Psalm 139:21, 22. “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” Of course, for Christ was in the psalmist; and he had the same love that God has because of that fact. Or again, in I John 2:15 we are commanded not to love the world. And what can that mean but that we hate the world? In fact there is added in the next verse that, if we do love the world (and a distinction is made in verse 15 between the world and the things in world) the love of the Father is not in us. You cannot love God and love the world that hates Him. Our love to God must be a love that hates the serpent and his seed as enemies of the living God. Never may we hate them as our enemies. Then we must do good to them. Then in love we must call them to repentance and show them the error of their way, give to them rather than take from them, shield and protect their lives rather than to take them away from them, deal in truth with them and not destroy their name, obey them in their positions of authority over us and not go on strike against them or throw off their yoke by violence or harmful deeds. But because they are God’s enemies, we will have to hate them in order to love God. You simply cannot do both. And from the opposite point of view another inspired psalmist declares in Psalm 119:63, “I am a companion of those that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts.” That means that he is a companion of those that love God and are not His enemies. We will find no pleasure in the company and fellowship of those that hate God. Work with them we may have to do; but our companions, our friends we will find among those that love God. These we will love. The rest we will have to hate in order to love the holy God.
Examine yourselves then whether ye be in the faith. Do you hate false doctrines? And are you ready to fight for the truth? Does it make no difference to you what men say and preach and teach concerning the living God and His Christ? The question is not whether you know the faith. Paul tells us to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. If we are, we are going to hate every departure from the faith once delivered to the Saints. We are going to strive for pure doctrine. We are going to insist on a doctrine that glorifies God. But we are also going to discipline those who walk contrary to such pure doctrine. We will count them enemies of God who introduce, maintain and defend that which denies God His glory. And then these enemies—because we may not hate them as our enemies—we are going to fight not with weapons of the flesh, but with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Do we love God? Are we eager to do the will of the Father in heaven Who loves Himself and His Son in our flesh? Can we then call our friends and seek the companionship of those who blaspheme His name and take it in vain with their cursing and rash swearing? If Christ is in us, can we possibly delight in having His name dragged in the mire? Can we do that ourselves? And can we then still maintain that Christ is in us and that we love Him? Jesus said of God and mammon that we would hate the one and love the other, but could not love both. The same thing is true of sin and of the sinner as God’s enemy. It is an antithetical matter. We love God and hate those who hate Him, or we hate God and love those that hate Him.
It is possible to love a man and not hate the other neighbor with a natural love and hatred. The young woman who does not love a certain young man with that natural love, is not required by the law of God, which demands of us that we love our neighbor, to marry that young man. She does not love him, but that does not mean that she necessarily hates him. She may still consider him a very close and esteemed friend. But with God it is a case of either loving Him or hating Him. And it is a case of loving Him or loving His enemies. It is a love that hates. The holy God you cannot love without hating sin, and the sinner who hates Him. If you love the holy God, you hate your ownsins too, and seek to do His will.
Then when in His name you prophesy (or teach and sing His praises), when you cast out the devil that troubles you with sin, and when you perform the mighty work of weeping over your sins—Yes, this is a mighty work—you will know Christ is in you, that you are an elect of God and will be received into the kingdom.
Indeed, take spiritual inventory to find out what you must discard and whether you are in the faith. Then boundless joy will be yours, and hope and confidence, now and in the day of your last breath of earthly life, that you will be received into the kingdom to enjoy God’s love to the full.