Loving Good, Hating Evil

 

Romans 12_9

Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Amos 5:15 “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”
Psalm 97:10 “Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 “…but test them all; hold on to what is good…”

The Bible passages above (taken from the New International Version, NIV) make three points perfectly clear: (1) There is a contrasting difference between love and hate; (2) There is a definite reality between good and evil; and (3) God loves good and hates evil.

Consider each of these three statements:

(1) There is a contrasting difference between love and hate.

Love and hate are polar opposites. They are as different as day and night. Love is light; hate is darkness. Love is life; hate is death. Love builds; hate destroys. Love breeds health; hate breeds sickness. Love is positive; hate is negative. Love sows unity; hate sows disunity. Love favors what is true; hate favors what is false. Love is for winners; hate is for losers. Love enables relationships; hate disables relationships.

Incidentally, as someone pointed out, doctors tell us that hating people can cause cancer, heart attacks, headaches, skin rashes, and asthma. It doesn’t make the people we hate feel too good either. On the other hand, love is good for both mental and physical health as doctors will also tell you.

To illustrate the difference between love and hate, consider this story submitted by J. Allan Peterson in Sermon Illustrations:

Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. “I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me.”

Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan. “Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.”

With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!” And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting “as if.” For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing. When she didn’t return, Crane called. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”

“Divorce?” she exclaimed. “Never! I discovered I really do love him.” Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted in emotion. The ability to love is established not so much by fervent promise as often repeated deeds.

And, I might add, this story shows that the difference between love and hate makes the difference between a happy marriage and an unhappy one.

(2) There is a definite reality between good and evil.

Some will say that there is no such thing as good and evil; right and wrong. They call this “moral relativism.”

According to one source,

“Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what’s right for you, and I’ll decide what’s right for me. Moral relativism says, ‘It’s true for me, if I believe it.'” (moral-relativism.com)

But the Bible does distinguish between good and evil for each is real. All one has to do is go back to the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. Among the many good and fruitful trees God created, there was one special tree called, “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

God took the man he’d created, Adam, and put him in the garden to cultivate and tend it.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die,'” (Genesis 2:16-17, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

From Adam, God made “a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18-25), a woman who would later be called Eve. And they both enjoyed living in Eden, a true paradise, a place of beauty and tranquility. Then, one day, Eve gazed upon the forbidden tree with wonder and curiosity:

“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings,” (Gen. 3:6-7).

This direct violation of God’s command, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was the fall of humanity into sin with the result being death. It was just as God said would happen. And it has been happening ever since.

The fall into sin shows there is no such thing as “moral relativism.” Rather, it proves this is such a thing as “moral absolutism.” That is, there is a right and there is a wrong. For, in the Garden of Eden, man broke the one and only command: Do not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Morality, therefore, is not on how WE want to define it or believe it. That’s the kind of thinking that got Adam and Eve into trouble in the first place. They badly wanted to believe that it would be okay to eat of that fruit because it looked so good and wonderful. But they found out differently which proves that morality is how GOD defines it.

In time, God would give ten commandments to Israel through Moses. Why? Because the people of Israel needed to live by a moral code that would define right and wrong. And it would distinguish them as God’s chosen nation in contrast to the pagan, ungodly nations around them. But no sooner had God given these commandments when Israel broke them, leading to their demise everytime.

And so we discover that whenever any of God’s commandments are broken, suffering results. Why? Because, just like sin and death, good and evil are real. Thankfully, God has graciously given us choices in this matter. We can choose the good or the evil, and both come with their own rewards.

(3) God loves good and hates evil.

Since God is the source of establishing moral absolutes, it’s only logical that he loves the good and hates the evil. This is in accord with his own moral nature. For God’s moral nature primarily consists of holiness, love, and truth. All of these attributes fall under the category of good. And so, he despises the evil of unholiness, hate, and untruth—human traits due to sin.

But regardless our own sin, we discover something fascinating when we understand the difference between love and hate; good and evil: The more we love God, the more we love good and hate evil like he does.

I believe such a transformation is possible because when we submit to God through his Son, Jesus Christ, we develop a sensitivity that helps us to change our thinking and way of life for the better. God’s Son paves the way for this change since he provides the perfect pattern for following the good which God loves.

Those who do not know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior do not realize this reality. But those who are of the mind of Christ do. Those who’ve fully accepted Jesus into their lives are striving to be transformed by the renewing of their mind through Christ, and not conformed by the ungodly ideas of the world (Romans 12:2). Thus, the Apostle Paul urges the followers of Christ, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Rom. 12:21).

Paul’s instruction is especially fitting in the world that we live today. As Christians, we are appalled at propaganda that asserts good is bad and bad is good depending on how you feel. Many allow themselves to be influenced by fads and trends and ideas which go against the traditional values which were once respected and upheld in a civilized society. But now, for the most part, these values are being turned upside down. This reminds me of Isaiah 5:20-21,

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

Christians need to be very wary of the ways the world is redefining good and evil; right and wrong. Our love for God and others through Christ (by the way, the underlying reason for obeying God’s commands, Matt. 22:36-40), along with unfaltering faith (2 Timothy 1:12-14) will keep us from falling prey to the deceptions of the world (1 John 2:15-17). And, as such, we will be better prepared for the Age to Come when good will triumph over evil for good.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. One who loves good and hates evil appreciates the goodness of God. Here’s Jenn Johnson singing, “The Goodness of God”: http://youtu.be/n0FBb6hnwTo

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