What is “dissimulation” in Romans 12:9?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Read verses 1 and 2 of Romans chapter 12: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The renewed mind—the clear thinking that the Word of God’s Grace brings—produces the lifestyle delineated in Romans chapters 12–16. Here, we want to focus on verse 9: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” One such consequence of new life in Christ is “love without dissimulation.” What exactly is this?

Of course, we can see the word “simulation” (fakery) within the word “dissimulation,” can we not? “Dissimulation” simply means “the process of disguising or concealing under a false appearance.” In other words, it is hypocrisy. Our love should be without two-facedness or a false front. An example of faking love can be seen in the following verse about simulating righteousness: “And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor” (Luke 20:20). These men “feigned” (pretended) to be of good standing, religious and upright. However, their “love for the truth” was actually a mask for their hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were willing to lie just to set traps for Him!

Unfortunately, what is lacking in so many “Christian” assemblies is genuine love—and this has been a problem even since Bible days! What we are discussing here goes beyond fuzzy feelings, mere sentiment, romance, and some flippant or shallow expressions of affection. In the Bible, love is the idea of one person seeking another person’s highest good. For example, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Father God offers us His love, for it is worthy of our acceptance and trust. He sought our highest good—the salvation of our souls from sin, death, Hell, and the Lake of Fire—by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins!

We must always be careful to love without dissimulation. This means to actually care for another person—particularly fellow members of the Body of Christ. We are not referring to mindlessly repeating, “I love you,” or claiming to love the person when we really hate him or her. Neither are we considering the attitude of, “Since you have done something nice for me, since you have loved me, so I will love you.” In 2 Corinthians 6:6, “love unfeigned” was one of the Apostle Paul’s motivations in ministry. The Holy Spirit worked in and through him to preach and teach sound Bible doctrine, that lost souls would come to Jesus Christ by faith and Christian souls would allow Him to live His life and through them by faith. Here in Paul’s ministry and life was genuine love in action, an internal working of God—not some fake “love” originating from sinful flesh, designed to flatter people, get something from them, make them believe a lie or perceive a false impression.

Returning to Romans, we re-read chapter 12, verse 9, with its subsequent verse: “[9] Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. [10] Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;….” Again, here is the kindness of true Christian love. A similar exhortation is Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” As God forgave us in Christ, as He forgave us because of Christ, so we forgive others. Like He loves us in Christ, as He loves us because of Christ, so we love others. We seek their highest good, as He sought our highest good at Calvary. Unless we have a clear understanding of these simple truths of grace living, however, we will have nothing but empty religious tradition—and religion is nothing but dissimulation anyway!

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”
(Romans 13:8-10).

Also see:
» What is meant by, “Love thy neighbour as thyself?”
» Why did my Christian loved one not share the Gospel with me when I was unsaved?

» What if I was never thanked?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» As Christians, should we hate our parents?
» What is true forgiveness?