Tag Archives: sin

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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God is Not a Respecter of Persons

If you fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin and are convicted by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” But if you do not commit adultery, yet if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and do as those who shall be judged by the Law of liberty. For he who has shown no mercy shall have judgment without mercy, and mercy exults over judgment.” (Jas 2:8-13)

Partiality in the way we treat people reveals a fear of man as opposed to a fear of God. The Pharisees were respecters of men. They accused Jesus of eating with sinners while Jesus said that He came to save sinners. He came to save those who recognize their need of a savior, not the self-righteous.

The root of favoritism is selfish motives. God does not show favoritism. “For there is no respect of faces with God.” (Rom 2:11) After a vision, Peter understood that God shows no favorites. (Acts 10:34-35) God judges all by the same standard. He judged the Jews in Old Testament for their disobedience. (2Chron 7:19-22) He will judge those who disobey Him today. God does not change. In the Book of Hebrews we are warned that their chastisement was an example to us. “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb 10:26-27)

In speaking of our relations with our fellow man, Jesus said that to love our neighbor sums up half the law. He also said that if we break part of the law, then we are guilty of breaking all of the law. We can’t say that we love God and hate our neighbor. Showing favoritism is judging by outward appearance. There is an account in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 7:36-50) where Simon the Pharisee judges a prostitute. Jesus recognized that she had sinned. But, He forgave her because of her faith. He told her to go in peace. It is implied that she should quit sinning, being at peace with God.

God doesn’t look on outward appearances. He looks upon the heart. Being impartial does not mean that we condone sin in our brother or sister. The word of God judges, not us. But, a word of correction given in love is more loving than condoning sin. Jesus instructs us to get the log out of our own eye and then to take the log out of our brother’s eye. We should continue to love and reach out to the one who is stumbling.

There will be judgment for sin. The Bible warns that it is appointed once for all. We will all be judged by God. (Jas. 4:12) The law of God judges us all. We all have sinned. We must judge ourselves using God’s law as a standard. If we would judge ourselves honestly, we wouldn’t sin. For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1Co 11:29-31) Properly discerning the Lord’s body is to understand the nature of the sacrifice for sin which He made for us.

If we are unwilling to extend mercy and forgive, God will not forgive us. (Mt. 18:32-35) Jesus came to save us from sin. The gospel is the “Law of Liberty.” He didn’t die to give us liberty to sin. All will be judged as in Christ or not. How does mercy triumph over judgment? The justice of God must be satisfied. All are guilty of breaking the law. Does God just wink and say forget it? What would happen if He did? The creation could not be restored. It would continue in sin and rebellion. Strife, violence, war, pain and death would continue. The justice of God must be satisfied. He must be true to His nature. The penalty for sin is death. The price for sin is a life. Blood must be shed. (Lev. 17:11; He. 9:22-10:31) There must be a sacrifice for sin. God showed it to Adam. He spelled it out in the Law. Animal sacrifices were only a shadow of the reality to come. The blood of animals won’t satisfy God. (Ps 51) The sacrifices had to be done in God’s temple, indicating they must be fulfilled in God’s dwelling. Jesus prophesied that His temple would be destroyed and raised in three days.

God foreshadowed the sacrifice at Passover. Egypt is the world under the curse of death. The Messiah is the sacrificial lamb. There must be the life of a man for man. Jesus is God’s merciful answer to His justice. John saw Him as God’s perfect sinless lamb. Jesus is the incarnate dwelling or temple of God. The mercy of God triumphed over the justice of God at the cross.

 

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