Genuine Religious Affections are Relentless

Series | For the Love of God

This fifth mark is acutely helpful but typically ignored in the attempt to identify gracious, spiritual affections.

5. Genuine religious affections are relentless.

In other words, genuine affections are always increasing and developing. They are not stagnant nor are they easily satisfied with their attainments. They do not applaud themselves and pat themselves on the back for how far they’ve come. Truly spiritual affections are not easily satiated. They are always pressing and pushing to mature more.

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. (303)

A fire lit is a fire seeking to burn. Isn’t that exactly what we see of Paul?

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

This is why in the New Testament, conversion is always seen as just the beginning. Men are to run the race with commitment and not stop until the course is completed. Believers are constantly striving and agonizing, wresting against principalities and powers, fighting, standing, pressing forward, crying to God day and night. Taking a break from the battle or calling a timeout during the fight is a sure way to be toast. Satan is not resting. Sin takes no breathers. That is why we must be ever alert and always active. Edwards dreadfully warns us away from half-heartedness:

Slothfulness in the service of God in His professed servants is as damning as open rebellion; for the slothful servant is a wicked servant and shall be cast into open darkness among God’s open enemies.

But gracious and genuine affections are not intermittent or listless, they are relentless.