“Ye that love the LORD, hate evil,” Psalm 97:10.
Much has been said and written about these two emotions of the heart and mind and which produce corresponding fruit in the life and govern the actions of mankind. And much of what has been said and written is totally erroneous.
That there is a close relationship between these very dissimilar passions is very evident from the verse at the head of this article. A person is either allied to the LORD or to EVIL
1. A LOVE FOR THE LORD IS UTTERLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH ANY SIN
It is entirely wrong to say that the Bible does not teach ‘hatred’. What it most definitely teaches is that we are not to ‘hate our neighbour’. The Saviour’s response to a question by a lawyer is central to the teaching of God’s Word.
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matthew 22:36-40.
Love for the Lord prompts and instigates obedience to all that the Lord has revealed to us regarding His mind and will for our behaviour. “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15. We cannot claim to love the Lord and live in disobedience to ANY of His commandments.
There are many today who would claim to be Christians and yet make the contradictory claim that there are things the Saviour commands which they don’t feel they have to obey! They explain away what is revealed to us in the Word, about which the Saviour said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,” Matthew 24:35, by asserting that such things as they reject were born out of ‘customs and fashions of yesteryear!
However, it is entirely contrary to the teaching of the Bible to look on any of its direct charges as something that belongs only to a certain time or era. It is true that the Levitical Laws have, to a large degree been superseded by New Testament commands, but we have the direct instructions from the Lord and His apostles for such changes.
The changes from the seventh day to the first day of the week to meet together to worship the Lord is authorised by what we read of the practice instituted by the apostles in their marking of the day of the Saviour’s resurrection and victory after His death on the cross. Paul taught the Corinthians about what day they should gather for worship. “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come,” 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. It will be easily understood that many of the early believers did not enjoy the liberty to assemble whenever they might desire to do so. Many were slaves. That being so, ‘the first day of the week’ would have the only day they were required to gather, together if they could. Again, we see this in practice when Paul was on his second missionary journey, and gathered the saints in Troas on the first day of the week for a breaking of bread, a communion service. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight,” Acts 20:7.
We may not take it upon ourselves to simple cast aside what we do not agree with and wish to abandon.
This proud abandoning of the plain commands of God by some individuals out of a desire to accommodate their own carnal notions is, sadly, a feature of modern ‘Christianity’!
We must and will hate sin for the Lord hates it! Being born again by the Holy Spirit, there is implanted within us a new nature whereby we are “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust,” 2 Peter 1:4. We have a nature like unto our heavenly Father and therefore share His loves and His hates! No Christians can persistently act contrary to that nature with which they have been endued. Where there is a persistent acting contrary to God and His law, then we must conclude that there has been no supernatural work of grace wrought in that person.
Yes, a Christian may sin, may backslide, BUT the Bible teaches that NO CHRISTIAN can abide in sin. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother,” 1 John 3:9-10. John Gill explains the words, ‘doth not commit sin’ as meaning: ‘Does not make it his trade and business; it is not the constant course of his life; he does not live and walk in sin, or give up himself to it; he is not without the being of it in him, or free from acts of sin in his life and conversation, but he does not so commit it as to be the servant of it, a slave unto it, or to continue in it; and that for this reason.’
So then, if we love the Lord truly we will hate and eschew evil. “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew (utterly avoid) evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil,” 1 Peter 3:10-12.
2. A LOVE FOR THE LORD WILL MAKE US ACTIVE IN THE WAR AGAINST SIN
Love must show itself and declare its affection by works. Love, “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth,” 1Corinthians 13:6. Love will declare itself whatever the circumstances and stand beside the Lord Jesus.
It will enable us to face death rather than betray its Lord. As it was with the Saviour, Who “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” (Philippians 2:8) for those He loved and would save from their sins, even so it is with the the faithful disciple who loves and serves Christ. The Lord Jesus “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end,” John 13:1. His love was unfailing and unchanging and so too should ours be for Him.
We will declare ourselves for Him irrespective of who is against Him. It is something which the true believer knows he cannot shirk! The Saviour set forth this truth in the starkest terms, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth,” Luke 11:23.
Judged by this template, how many professing Christians are in truth against the Saviour! They freely mingle with the enemies of God and truth and seem content to call them friends. So it is in the Ecumenical and modernistic churches which in very recent times have progressively embraced more and more of the ungodly thinking of the world until sodomy and the various perversions associated with it are placated and accommodated within their ranks!
As it was with Edom when Jerusalem was razed by the enemy, so it is with many professing ‘Christians’ today as the gospel is under attack. “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them. But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity,”Obadiah 1:10-13.
A true love for the Lord and His cause will cause us to mourn at the ‘violence’ done to the cause of Christ and boldly step forward to condemn the wickedness of men against the gospel. In his earlier days, Ian Paisley was the epitome of such boldness, whatever may be said of his latter years!
Love for the Saviour will make the pulpits ring with bold defiance against the devil and his works. Do the pulpits ring so today? I hear all too often that it is not so. I see also a great lack of public condemnation by preachers against the ongoing slide into greater and greater perversity. Am I wrong in saying that such a silence was not the case in the 1960s and 70s, when voices were raised, placards displayed and Free Presbyterian feet were heard marching to confront the latest outburst from the enemy!
I have heard it said that there are those ministers who ‘whisper’ — for they are ashamed to openly declare such a thing — that the day for marching and protesting is over! That will only happen when the devil is cast into the Lake of Fire and the voice of the false prophet is heard no more proclaiming his lies and deceits. Until then, true Christian love will neither be silent or still!
In his second epistles Peter said: “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth,” 2 Peter 1:12. He continued in his earnest efforts to put the saints in remembrance of the issues they must ever bear in mind and deals with an issue back then which requires our attention still. “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,” 2 Peter 3:1-4.
Our reaction to the present-day ’scoffers’ must be that of Peter. Not silently ignoring these evil deniers of God’s truth but a defining them for what they are and warning God’s people of their deceits. Among the words which he urged upon the people are the closing words of his letter: “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen,” 2 Peter 3:17-18.
I would sadly suggest that there are few ‘Peters’ today, exposing the deceivers, contradicting their lies and setting forth the truth of Christ’s return in power and great glory as “a thief in the night” (verse 10) to take vengeance upon His enemies! There is still a need for such a witness and where there is true love for Christ that witness will be mounted and heard!
3. A LOVE FOR THE LORD WILL MAKE US VICTORS OVER SIN
Where there is a true love for Christ there will be a walking close to Him, enjoying His fellowship and power and living in ‘the victory of the cross’!
Peter, in his cowardly backsliding and denial of Christ was at that time ‘afar off’! “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off,” Luke 22:52-54.
He was a very different ‘Peter’ from the writer of the two epistles toward the end of our Bibles. He had repented of His backsliding and had experienced the infilling of the Holy Ghost. It was then that the love for the Saviour that he thrice affirmed (John 21:15-17), was nourished and brought to a fulness for the chief fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit,” Galatians 5:22-25.
Thus the path of victory over sin is to enter into a full love for the Saviour so that we love Him with all of our heart, and with all our soul, and with all of our mind, (Matthew 22:37), and thus enjoy the fulness of His blessing.
4. A LOVE FOR THE LORD WILL MAKE US A TARGET OF THE GREAT PROMOTER OF SIN, THE DEVIL AND HIS AGENTS
Drawn by love to the Saviour’s side will bring us ‘outside the camp’ for it was there that the Saviour suffered for us. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach,” Hebrews 13:12-13.
‘Outside the camp’ is a place of ‘reproach’, even ‘his reproach’! The word ‘reproach’ means ‘to revile’. It is the root of the of the word found in Matthew 27:41-44. “Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” The final phrase is the basis of the word ‘reproach’.
We cannot stand with the Lord Jesus without this hatred falling upon us as well as Him. The Lord Jesus faithfully warns us of this ‘reproach’. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me,” John 15:18-21.
What an honour to be so reviled! It was John Bunyan who said he wore men’s reproaches as campaign medals with joy!
There are few preachers today wearing medals like those of John Bunyan.
Let us counter the hurtful mockery of men by the ointment of the Word of God.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Romans 8:16-18.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh,” 2 Corinthians 4:6-11.
“And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake,” Philippians 1:28-29.
“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself,” 2 Timothy 2:10-13.
Sincerely in Christ’s name,
10th June 2023