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Sin renames its actions

Cover of Smellie’s In the Hour of Silence

Today's Devotional

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil—Isaiah 5:20 (NASB).

I am ready to call evil good. I veil my guilt. I deny my misery. I am skillful and emphatic in doing so. Sin—how many softening names I have for it which conceal its deformity! It is error, accident, inexperience, indecision. It is an element in my spiritual education; it is a stage in my upward progress. But I am reluctant to name it a malign force which asserts itself against God. I will not confess that my mind is dark, and my will disobedient, and my affections idolatrous. What is bitter I describe as though it were sweet.

On the other hand, I am sometimes as ready to call good evil. The way of holiness, the way which the saints have trod, the way in which God’s Son walked when he was on earth, the way of the heavenly country into which there shall enter nothing that defiles—I speak of it as rough, thorny, undesirable. I will not see the freedom of it, the peace of it, the power which is mine when I am in it, the King of it who supplies all my need out of his riches in glory....

I have magnified trifling obstructions. I have talked of duty as insipid. I have abased and impoverished the tree of life into a weeping willow, a shivering aspen, a mourning cypress. And this mistake is as fatal as the other.

From both delusions may the Lord deliver me.


Contemplate the story of the Incarnation day-by-day throughout the season of Advent in our latest publication, The Grand Miracle. Based on the writings of C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, Dorothy Sayers, and others, each day’s reading offers a fresh look at the birth of Christ through the eyes of a modern author. Scripture, prayer, and full-page contemplative images complete each entry. 28 days, 64 pages. Preview the Devotional here.


About the author and the source

It is for his book Men of the Covenant (the story of the martyred Scottish Covenanters) that Alexander Smellie (1857–1923) is most remembered today. Nonetheless, his devotional Hour of Silence was so popular in its own day it had to be reprinted eight times in twenty-four years. He was a pastor in the Free Church of Scotland and an editor and contributor to Christian magazines.

Alexander Smellie. In the Hour of Silence: A Book of Daily Meditations for a Year. London: Andrew Melrose, 1899.

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