The end of our love affair with sin doesn’t happen in one, sudden moment. This divine “take away” is a long, drawn-out goodbye that only finishes at death. We love the idea of spiritual short-cuts. We love the idea that holiness involves a technique. If there was a daily sanctification pill we could take, it’d be a huge hit. But instead, this line is a prayer the 80-year old saint needs to sing as heartily as the freshly-converted pagan.
“Take away the loving of sinning”
That line always stood out and stuck in my head as a teen. It comes from the second verse of Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, “Love divine, all loves excelling”. I think I was particularly struck by its honesty. It was strange to think that all the smart, suit-wearing men, and prim, proper women surrounding me at church were people who loved sinning! But, at the same time, it encouraged me to hear us all long for “Love divine” to rip that sinful love out of our hearts.
I think it’s a particularly helpful line for us at the moment:
a) It reminds us that life is filled with love for unlovely things. The slogan: “Love is love” is lazy, nonsense. No one holding such a sign believes loving Hitler, and loving Martin Luther King are moral equivalents. Jesus explains that “people loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19). With a “conversion therapy” ban in the pipeline, the government wants to give a particular sin a very special form of legal protection. There’s to be no questioning that sin, or naming that sin as sin.