“The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate” (Prov 8.13; ESV).
“You who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psalms 97.10).
To be in love with the Lord is to hold dear what He holds dear, and to hate what He hates. The church in Ephesus was condemned for losing their “love of God,” (Rev 2.4) whereas, they were commended for hating the Nicolaitans and what they stood for just as Christ did (Rev 2.6). In one sense the church was given praise for testing the doctrines of others against the truth (Rev 2.2-3)—i.e. Word of God—but was rebuked for losing sight of what was more important—the love of Christ Jesus. If they were willing to bear Christ’s discipline, then they would receive the promised reward: being allowed to “eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev 2.7).
While the former is by far the more important, the latter goes hand-in-hand with it. As Christians, we are called to love God with all that we are, and in so doing stand firmly upon the rock of Truth (cf. Matt 7.24; John 17.17). What happens, though when we fail to do this? What are we saying to the world around us? More importantly, what are we saying to the God who saved us, whom we say we love, when we fail to embrace the truth over and above the lie?
Think hard upon this. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his day, because they were more invested in the lies of their father, than the pure truth of Scripture (cf. John 8.44). Jesus said a defining mark of those that were truly his disciples, where those that were vested in the truth (John 8.31-32). in other words, it is through God’s precepts and instruction that we who are the children of God gain true understanding, and therefore as a consequence rightly hate evil (Psalms 119.104).
What then shall we say of those within Christ’s church who fail to challenge a lie? Who refuse to stand upon the Truth, out of fear of being ostracized, out of fear of being rejected by those who they know. One way to put yourself in the seat of opposition is to point out falsehood when you see it. To stand for what is right, what is true, what is pure, when the opportunity presents itself. Sadly, those that profess the Name of Jesus and shirk in the corner out of fear, are many.
Perhaps, this is the byproduct of living in the culture in which we do. In America, the secularists idea of tolerance has been unknowingly adopted by many in the Christian faith today. So much so, that they are apparently blind to it. We do not want to offend, we do not want to put off the appearance of being narrow-minded, we are fearful someone might call us a “hater,” a “bigot,” a “legalist,” a “fundamentalist,” “illogical,” “irrational,” “nonsensical,” a “backward, behind the times, dunderhead.” What we fail to see, though, is that by remaining silent when confronted with the lie we are demonstrating to the world around us—before an unseen audience of angels and the Triune God of Creation—that we are ashamed of Christ.
If we do not demonstrate in our lives that we hate evil, that we fear the Lord God above all else, then we are just as guilty as those who have embraced the lie. In our silence we have become partakers of the very same evil that we would, in private church settings, say we hate! As Christian men and women we do not have the luxury of silence. Our lives are not our own, and God expects our allegiance. Christ cannot truly be the Lord of our hearts, if we cower in the corner allowing the lies to stand in this life unchallenged.
Not only do we show no love for the Lord with such behavior, but we also show that we have no love for our neighbor. For if we truly loved them, then we would stand for the truth, in the hope that they too would see it and embrace it. I realize that our tendency is to avoid conflict at all costs, to not be offensive, to be seen and not heard. We want the people around us to see us and to speak well of us. We hate the idea of someone taking note of us in a negative fashion. However, we would be wise to pay attention to Jesus’ way of life.
In John chapter 6 we read of the feeding of five thousand men (not including the women and children there that day) on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:1-15). The next day the crowd finds out that Jesus has left. They did not see him get in the boat with his disciples, but many of them decide to make the journey across the lake anyway. When they arrive in Capernaum, they find Jesus teaching in the synagogue there. The people want to know how Jesus got there, but he says in response, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (John 6.26). In other words, the people did not chase after Jesus because they truly believed in him. Instead, they saw a free meal ticket. They had the mentality of “what can you do for me.”
Over the next several verses Jesus teaches them several deep theological truths. He explains that He is the Bread of Life (John 6.35, 48). That in order to live they must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood (John 6.51-53). Jesus is not teaching the people to become cannibals. Rather, he is using hyperbolic language to demonstrate that unless they believed in Him, they would perish and die in their sins.
Now the language that Christ used was offensive to the Jews. Not just the comments about his flesh being bread and his blood being drink, but that coming to him in belief was not possible unless the Father drew them to the Son (John 6.44). He said if the Father did not draw the person, “no one” would be able to believe. The offense was that their Jewish heritage would not save them. The offense was that their will would not save them, but rather God’s will (see John 1.12-13). Those that turned to Christ in belief, as was required, did so because the Father enabled them.
Many people left Jesus that day disgruntled. Many of his disciples left also. However, before they left Jesus posed this question to them: “Do you take offense at this?…It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6.61b, 63). The question I pose to you the reader is this: Did Jesus tell the truth to the crowds that day, to his own disciples, people who had been following him for a long while, or did he remain silent? The answer is obvious. The reader of this biblical account cannot deny it. What governed Jesus teaching, was the truth. He embraced the Truth and opposed the Lie at all points in his life. In so doing, he demonstrated that He did in fact love the Father more than anyone else, and that he loved his neighbor as himself.
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