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. (NIV)
You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (NKJV)
I thought our Verse of the Day had some great key points for us to consider … and embrace. As disciples of Christ Jesus, we have been called to love Him and to keep His commands. We have been chosen by God to receive salvation through His Son. He has promised us the inheritance of eternal life. He has empowered us to walk in step with His indwelling Holy Spirit. And God has enjoined us to love one another just as He in Christ demonstrated His loved toward us. Wow! And yet, here we have another response to the love of God to consider: HATE EVIL. Look at the text. If you love the Lord … you will HATE evil! This is very strong language….
Now, perhaps we think that the “ability” to hate evil should be inherent in the hearts and lives of those who have received Jesus as Lord and been born again of the Spirit. Yet, how many of us as Christians continue to struggle with temptation and fall short … fail … sin? The Apostles James and John both addressed this spiritual challenge:
James 1:12-16 (ESV)
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my dear friends.
John 1:5-10 (ESV)
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
So my thought is that our “struggle” becomes complicated because we simply do not HATE evil. We still allow evil thoughts within our hearts (Cf. Genesis 6:5) to drive the desires and behaviors that lead us into sin…. The Psalmist indicates that if you love God … you should HATE evil. But he states that the Lord “guards” the lives (souls) of His faithful ones (saints) and delivers them from evil. Likewise, James assures us that God will bless those who remain steadfast (faithful) under temptation with the “crown of life” which He has promised to give those who love Him. And John advises us that if we walk in darkness … we cannot have fellowship with God. But praise God, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we CONFESS our sins to Him….
Yes, we need to recognize and realize that evil is ever present around us. It is hostile to our souls whether inflicted from within or experienced from without. Oh, we readily hate the sins of others and the evil their sin inflicts upon us and others. But do we truly hate our own sin … in all of its variant forms, subtleties, and deception? Jesus warned us to examine ourselves – to see if we sincerely hate all evil:
Matthew 23:25-28 (ESV)
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
I gather from the tone of this passage, Jesus was quite passionate in His delivery of this message to the religious hypocrites. The deception of hypocrisy is that it is truly darkness. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. So it is with hidden sin(s) … which is not ever hidden from God. We are all exposed before Him … and He knows the truth. He knows whether we truly hate evil … or if we are merely pretending … especially in front of others.
But I would like to revisit the assurance found in our Verse of the Day that I believe we need to embrace: “He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” This message reminded me of another verse we have studied that offers a similar message of hope:
1 Corinthians 10:12-14 (ESV)
12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (what you can bear), but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
Well, I hope this Verse will challenge each of us to sincerely examine ourselves … our inner thoughts and convictions … to determine if we truly HATE evil in every form of darkness it manifests itself. You who love the Lord – hate evil! It is something that you must expressly and intently do in your thought life before it will ever manifest in your personal conduct or manner of life. Remember, God sees and knows the truth. But know this: God is for us on this one! He will guard our souls and delivers us from the evil one…. What a wonderful promise for those who love Him! Amen.