Tag Archives: Love

Hate What is Evil; Cling to What is Good

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:21)

We are exhorted to hate evil. The American Heritage Dictionary defines evil thus: “Causing harm or injury.” We are to hate those things that cause people harm or injury. Our hatred is not focused on people. People are victims or tools of unseen spiritual forces and are unwittingly in bondage to behaviors that injure others. I did not say that they are innocent, because they are not; they ignore God’s revelation and choose evil. Nevertheless, we are not to hate the person. We are to hate the behavior. We are to hate the spiritual forces of darkness that manipulate people. We should hate injustice, violence and sin in any form. Sadly, Christians can too often be accused of hating their enemy (even if that is not the case) because of their zeal for a cause. This can happen quite easily when we get involved in political battles. We need to be cautious about being involved in “civilian affairs” when our real battle is spiritual. I am not preaching that Christians should not be politically involved. We need to be “wise as serpents” in choosing our battles and we need to be careful not to wage battle in the manner that the world does. We should never lower ourselves to mudslinging or other carnal acts of revenge.

While hating evil we must cling to what is good. This is a connected thought and is clearly intended to balance the first part. It is interesting that this sentence is sandwiched in between two exhortations to love. Hating evil and loving what is good are expressions of true godly love. Many people dissociate love and hate. Yet, properly directed, hate is an expression of real love. God hates sin and God is love. We must be careful to avoid two extremes. We can be so caught up with hating evil that we forget to cling to what is good, or worse, begin to hate evildoers. Our instruction is to, “overcome evil with good.”

The other extreme would be to never feel any righteous indignation about evil. Many Christians struggle with Jesus’ behavior in driving the moneychangers from the temple. Yet it was His love for the people that caused Him to hate what the money changers were doing in preventing people from worshipping. Guthrie points out that it was the extortion of excessive interest that the moneychangers were exacting on foreign worshippers, thus capitalizing on the people’s desire to worship properly, that probably caused such moral outrage in Jesus. With great moral authority He quoted the prophets, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” His love for the moneychangers did not prevent Him from taking necessary action to stop the evil that was occurring. Guthrie further points to the fact that none of them resisted as an indication that they themselves were aware of their guilt. Significantly, His disciples, upon seeing this display of moral outrage, recalled the Messianic prophesy, “Zeal for your house consumes me….” Further on in this exposition on sincere love, zeal is identified as an essential characteristic of such love. Yet He did not kill the moneychangers. Instead He willing died for their sins!

Cling to “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable….” Cling to “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.” Cling to God! He is the one who embodies all of these principles. In our battle against evil, never lose sight of the good. Never be so consumed with the battle that we lose our joy, for “the joy of the lord is our strength.” Our joy comes from a revelation of what is good and from He who embodies what is good.

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True Intimacy

I believe that spiritual reality precedes and causes physical reality. The natural things speak of the invisible. God teaches us that nature, physical reality, reveals His nature (Ro. 1:20). God created the natural, physical realm to reflect the spiritual realm. He established marriage in order to reflect the intimacy He intends for the believer and Himself. Someone once said, “Marriage is not finding the person with whom you can live, but finding that person with whom you cannot live without.” That should be our attitude not just about our earthly spouse, but our groom in heaven. Unfortunately, many have had bad experience with marriage. Often, the reason for this is a lack of relationship or intimacy with God.

The Bible teaches that the individual believer is married to Christ. In Romans chapter 7 Paul uses the illustration from marriage to show how we should no longer be in bondage to sin because when we are born again we are married to Christ. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law [bondage to sin] through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”(Ro. 7:4) You can only die to sin through intimacy with Christ.

The Song of Songs written by Solomon is a story of marital intimacy between Christ and His bride. You can contrast the Song of Songs with Ecclesiastes. Solomon wrote both. One is the greatest love song ever written the other deals with vain endeavors, running after God versus running after things. One is a book for the heart before and more than the mind, for lovers rather than intellectuals, those who want intimacy versus those who want knowledge.

The Song of Songs records the wooing and wedding of a shepherd girl to King Solomon. There are three players in this drama. Metaphorically, the Shulamite woman is the individual believer. The King is Christ and the daughters of Jerusalem, or virgins, are the other believers, the church/ Israel. It recounts a journey of intimacy that corresponds to the walk of many believers as we grow in relationship. It begins with the initial stirring of holy passion and immature attempts to run with God. This often leads to disillusionment and frustration in a desperate search for God. As we seek after Him, He draws us away and restores us with His transforming love.

The Shulamite woman begins: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine…. Draw me away with you!”  (Song of Songs 1:2, 4) This is the kiss of marital intimacy not just brotherly love. Paul prayed that believers would know Christ intimately: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” (Eph 1:17-18) He is not talking about knowing Christ in the sense of intellectually knowing about Him. He is talking about knowing Him as a bride knows her husband; an intimate relationship.

The Shulamite says, “for your love is more delightful than wine.”; His love is better than the intoxicating wine of carnal pleasures. His love is better than fame, power, money, control, fleshly pleasures, TV, rock stars, houses, boats, games, careers. Solomon had it all: money, power, women, comforts and he said it was all vanity. The love of God is better, but people have forsaken Him and tried to find fulfillment in everything but God. He loves us with abandon and is totally committed to us. Our passion for Him is the fruit of recognizing that dedication and it comes by revelation. You must have your eyes opened; you can, you must ask for it.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  (He 11:6) Saving faith believes that Christ is not only reliable but is desirable. We must have Him whose affectionate love is far better than religious obligation or the wine of earthly experiences and possessions.

The Shulamite says, “Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;” She is drawn by the fragrance of His person, His character, not by intellectual knowledge of Him. This speaks symbolically of the graces of His person, the beauty of who He is. “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps 34:8). It recognizes the perfection of all that He does; “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, … The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever, holy and awesome is his name.”  (Psalm 111)

He is our creator, redeemer, deliverer, provider and healer. How could you not fall in love with such a person? She calls Him King. Knowing Him as Lord is a perquisite to intimacy. The truth of who He is comes by revelation, which is a gift you must seek. The Shulamite says, “your name is ointment poured out, therefore the virgins love you!” Christ’s name, that is His person and character, brings healing. He is called the Balm of Gilead. His compassionate sacrificial love heals the whole person, body, soul and spirit. We all need healing/ salvation. We are a broken image.

She asks Him to draw her away, not just to Him, but away from the other things and people. She recognizes her inability to pursue Him on her own. Our motivation to seek Him is caused by His drawing us to Himself. It takes God to love God. He draws her into His chamber, the intimate place. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God… Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Ps 84:1).

The intimacy that they have produces a rejoicing that affects the other seekers/ virgins. She is not the only one in His quest. Our affection for God will have an effect on others. How do we develop this intimate relationship? We must ask Him to draw us to Him. His word says, “you have not because you do not ask” and, “seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened” We need to hunger to be with Him; for His manifest presence. We must hunger like David: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”  We must practice the spiritual disciplines that will cause that intimacy to grow. Praise and thanksgiving are two disciplines that will draw us close to God. That is one reason why it is so important that we be committed to a worshipping body of believers. Delight is incomplete until it is expressed in words and actions. Unfortunately we express affection as if it were an obligation. Expressing praise and adoration to God is not an obligation but a blessing

Intimacy must precede ministry. There is a Divine order of ministry: We must minister to God before we can minister to others. He brings us to a place of intimacy in order to put His life and power in us that we may be like Him and freely extend that love to others. He doesn’t draw us away so that we can hang up a do not disturb sign. The heart of God is love; He wants more children; He wants intimate relationship with more people. He says freely you’ve received, therefore freely give. You can’t do one before the other. We must be drawn away from things to Him before we can minister to Him and for Him.

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