Thursday, June 16, 2011
More on Affections
A little while ago I posted something on Trading Your Affections. I want to continue that theme this morning with a couple of quotes from Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. See if you can pinpoint the instances where Edwards gets at the idea of trading affections:
The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin; the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God: the kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn.
Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will thirst after it, and a fullness of it, that it may be satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he comes to perfection. And therefore this is the nature of spiritual affections, that the greater they be, the greater the appetite and longing is, after grace and holiness.
In the previous blog post I had referenced Thomas Chalmers who defined "trading your affections" this way:
“The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good, to expel the love of what is evil. . . ."
Essentially, if you want to love sin less and love God more you trade affections by taking your affections off of sin and placing them on God. This just makes sense, right? We do this all of the time. We are constantly falling in and out of love with this and that and transferring our affections onto something else (all equally unsatisfying in the long run). Think of sports teams/players, music, politics, our friends, etc. And we also know that we only have room in our hearts for one affection at a time. For example, we can't be loving money and, at the same time, be loving God. Matthew 6:24 tells us exactly this:
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
You can't cherish naked women on a computer screen and, at the same time, cherish Christ. It's one or the other. You can't treasure your Harley and treasure Christ at the same time. It's one or the other. What you will find, though, is that the more you adore Christ, the less you will adore the other.
It is important that you find verses that portray the trading of affections (hatred of sin, love of God) and take them in and make them yours. I mentioned in my previous post, Colossians 3:1-4, which tells us to set our minds on Christ and not on the things of this world... The idea of trading affections is found all over Scripture. For example, Psalm 119 is full of the trading of affections. The more the psalmist loves and treasures God's Word (which is where the God that is to have our affections is revealed), the more he "hate(s) every false way" (vs 104) and "turn(s)... from looking at worthless [vain] things" (vs 37).
What is most important is to know God. The more you learn about God from Scripture, the more you will know Him and the more you know Him, the more you will adore Him. You will set your affections on the thing that you most adore... so, adore God.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.