God’s Hatred for Sin

HateYou can check out the podcast here.

Last week we learned about the scoundrel. We saw that wickedness and worthlessness are evident by a number of characteristics that should not be present in the life of an authentic believer. The scoundrel is always devising evil. This morning, we hit a passage of Scripture that might be familiar to you and is contrary to the message some “religious” people tout that God is only love.

Pro. 6:16-19 says, “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”

God is a hater. Okay, let’s qualify that. Can a loving and all powerful God hate something? Before we get into specifics, people who make the claim that God is only love have not studied the Bible. God has a nearly infinite list of awesome characteristics that we should strive to emulate. He is patient, kind, compassionate, empathetic, creative, understanding, decisive, dependable, generous, gentle, humble, strong, loyal, meek, just, balanced, truthful, wise, and totally awesome. We could go on and on.

So we come to this passage of seven things that God hates. This list is not all inclusive as we have other Scriptures listing additional things that God hates. Before we get to the list, let’s see how Solomon sets it up. “There are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him.” Hate means an intense dislike for or a strong aversion towards something or someone. Abomination is more difficult to define and the best I can come up with is it means detestable or loathsome. Just because there is a list, do not assume that some sins are okay or not as bad as others. You may have heard sin broken up into mortal and venial sin. Venial sin is a lesser sin that is forgivable while mortal sin ruptures a person’s link with God’s saving grace. Don’t confuse this list of seven with the seven deadly sins. The seven deadly sins may lead to mortal sin. 1 Jo. 5:16-17 tells us, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.” One denomination uses this passage in their statement of faith to justify the concept that some sins are more severe than others. I quote, “The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.”

So let’s clear this up. Sin is sin in God’s eyes. Rom. 6:23a tells us that, “The wages of sin is death.” Sin leads to death. “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8) God does not want us to sin, and He knows that we still have a sin nature and a natural desire to sin. That’s why He gives us the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to overcome that nature. No sin is too great for God to forgive. Yes, the wages of sin is death – both spiritual and physical, BUT, “the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 6:23b)

So let’s check out the list. Remember biblical lists often are ordered in severity or importance. Sometimes the lists go from bad to worse and this is the case here. As we go through the list, look for the body parts mentioned that generally flow from the top of the head to the feet. Notice also that the first five refer to general moral characteristics such as pride, deceit, violence, etc. “Haughty eyes.” This phrase is also translated a proud look. Haughty means arrogantly superior or disdainful. It is a self importance and a putting oneself ahead of everyone and everything else. It is the exact opposite of the primary virtue we should have that Paul mentions in Eph. 4:2 when he says, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.” Remember that, “God is opposed to the proud” according to Ja. 4:6. Solomon mentions pride numerous times throughout this book.

“A lying tongue.” All lies are sin. I would say this includes exaggeration, but not hyperbole. Saying you caught a 30 pound bass is when you caught nothing is a lie. Saying you’re so tired you could sleep for a year is hyperbole – an exaggeration used for effect and is not to be taken literally. Don’t lie – ever. Solomon is talking about a person that has no regard for truth, they consistently lie; they are habitual liars.

“And hands that shed innocent blood.” Innocent does not mean perfect in this passage, it means not guilty of a crime or offense. Solomon is describing a person who is prone to violence. Someone that would commit murder if the circumstances presented themselves. This describes someone that has little or no value for human life. They would engage in violence over a presumed wrong, someone always looking for a fight.

“A heart that devises wicked plans.”Always scheming or devising ways in which to gain an advantage over another person. Following the rules or laws is done when it’s convenient or serves a specific purpose. If the rules don’t meet those criteria, they’re ignored.

“Feet that run rapidly to evil.” This is an excitement or eagerness to sin. This is someone that evaluates the opportunity to sin. It’s someone that receives extra change and considers is good luck that he got away with something. The benefit is secondary. It’s like the speeder that gets a warning and not a citation. It’s not that no fine has to be paid although that’s good. The real joy comes from getting away with breaking the law. If you do some casual research into these characteristics, you’ll find they are consistent with sociopathic behavior. That’s not consistent with the godliness that is expected of authentic believers. All of us likely have committed one or more of these things that God hates, but before you get all antsy about this, Solomon is talking about consistent, habitual behavior.

Here’s the break out in the last two on the list. While each of the seven in the list are moral character flaws, the last two represent something a bit different. “A false witness who utters lies.”  Solomon already said in v. 17 that God hates, “a lying tongue.” This one is different. Literally, this is someone that lies under oath or in direct examination. Think about a courtroom. Lying under oath is called perjury which is punishable as a felony under the criminal code. Lying when you promise to tell the truth undermines the fabric of society. Finally, “And one who spreads strife among brothers.” Strife means angry or bitter disagreement or conflict. This can happen in the workplace, in the school, in your neighborhood, and in the church. This is an attempt to drive people apart. Some people aren’t happy unless they’re making other people unhappy. Some folks don’t know they’re unhappy until they’re told. I have seen this happen on more than one occasion in the church and even here at C4. The common thread is there is no desire for resolution or reconciliation. Someone gets upset and tries to get others upset too. If and when I hear of it, my practice is to make contact and see what I can do to resolve whatever perceived or real issue there is. I’m often told everything is fine, yet they separate themselves from the body. It’s rarely an individual thing. It affects the spouse, the kids, the person’s friends, others that know him; it affects relationships.

What is particularly troubling is that disagreement or conflict may occur in other facets of life like school, work, with coaches or players on a team, with neighbors, but rarely does that result in any change. A child can be bullied at school and the child continues to go. You can work for the worst boss in the world, but you continue to go to work. You can have a neighbor that complains about everything you do: they don’t like your kids, your pets, the way you park your car or your Christmas decorations, but you don’t move. Someone doesn’t speak to you at church and you quit. Someone doesn’t like your new profile picture and you quit. Yes, it does get that trivial in the church. We’ve become unwilling to be a people that work things out; that acknowledge people’s differences with understanding – we have unattainable expectations for everyone else and none for ourselves. This is a character flaw that God does not approve of.

God is indeed a God of love, but that doesn’t mean he loves everything. This list of Solomon’s is not all inclusive. God hates all sin, yet loves the one committing sin. We must learn to overcome the faults of others and love people regardless of what they do or do not do. We must love unconditionally and love people to lead them to an authentic and passionate relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.

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Woe, Woe, Woe

RebellionYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we discovered that the creepers slandered the way of the Lord; they reviled things they did not understand. They are unreasoning animals driven by instinct and passion rather than truth and reason. Their way of life leads to destruction. Jude now begins a three verse string that is known as the woe oracles. Remember this letter is designed to be read at one time. We won’t get through all three verses today, but we will look at three examples of people that were destroyed because of their actions.

Jude 11 says, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”

What is woe? Woe is a word we hear Jesus say often. He used the word seven times in Matt. 23. He is consistent in His use of the word in that chapter referring to the Pharisees. Jesus spoke of their exclusivity. He called them blind guides, fools, and hypocrites. He said they focused on the minor and ignored the more important, weightier matters of doctrine. Jesus said they were clean on the outside, but filthy on the inside. He said the Pharisees were like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside and full of dead man’s bones on the inside. On the outside they appeared righteous, but on the inside they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Jesus called them vipers and serpents and asked them, “How will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matt. 23:33) The word woe is an expression of grief or denunciation and it can also mean a terrible pain that is to come. Jesus used the term effectively denouncing the attitudes and values of the Pharisees. This is the same usage of the word Jude employs in describing the seriousness of lifestyle and behavior of the creepers. This is hardly the picture of tolerance that many people in the world and even in the church claim that Jesus represents. People that make this false claim of Jesus have not consulted the Scriptures. He is particularly intolerant of religious leaders that claim one thing and do another.

Jude calls out three Old Testament people that were severely denounced. “Woe to them,” woe to the creepers! The first example of woe. Jude starts out with the earliest example of poor decision making and sibling rivalry when he says, “They have gone the way of Cain.” If we go back to Gen. 4, we’ll see that Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve and grew to be, “A tiller of the ground.” Abel was the second born and, “Was a keeper of flocks.” All was going just great until Cain brought an offering from the ground and Abel brought an offering from the flock. God had regard for Abel’s offering and not Cain’s. God says to Cain, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7) The word desire is the same one used in Gen. 3 when God told Eve, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Sin wants to control you, and Scripture says we must master it. Cain didn’t and murdered his brother.

The second example concerns Balaam. The creepers, “For pay . . . have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam.” When we consider the Old Testament writings about Balaam, it can be a bit confusing. On the surface it seems like Balaam was a decent guy; a prophet of God. When Balak wanted to pay him to curse Israel, Balaam said, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the Lord my God.” (Num. 22:18) It took a donkey to reveal Balaam’s true character. We even see God speaking to Balaam and telling him what to say. But Balaam was anything but a true prophet. Peter said that Balaam, “Loved the wages of unrighteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:15) God concludes, “Your way was contrary to Me.” (Num. 22:32) and in we see in Num. 31:8 that he was killed fighting against Israel. Jude draws a comparison between the creepers and Balaam. The creepers rushed headlong into the error of Balaam and they did it for money. Likely they are traveling teachers seeking to make some cash. There are numerous companies and booking agents that will arrange to have a famous pastor/preacher/teacher for your event and they do it at a cost. There is nothing wrong with earning a living or being compensated for what you do. I often joke that I’m a professional Christian because I get paid to be a minister of Jesus Christ. The truth is I’ve been doing what I do for a long time and it is my privilege to do so. I have done, I do, and would do it without compensation. I still offer much of what I do for free. Counseling.     Weddings and funerals. Coaching. Home repair consultation. Much of what I provide is to people that may attend C4, but are not members. Most of the counseling I do is for people from other churches or people that are not affiliated with any church and may not even be a Christian. Scripture is very clear that the minister of God must not be in it for the money. There’s nothing wrong with paying your pastor or church leader. Paul told Timothy, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1 Tim. 5:17) But Balaam was in it for the money and it looks like the creepers were too. This gives us the idea that the creepers knew what they were doing. Back in v. 4 Jude said they, “Deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” How is it remotely possible that they got into the church and were teaching and still no one noticed that their theology was whacked?

Jude’s not done as he provides the third example of Korah. This is another O.T. reference. Jude obviously loves the O.T. providing some solid evidence that the O.T. is still applicable and relevant for today. Korah and two of his buddies formulated a plan to overthrow Moses and Aaron with the help of 250 others from the assembly of Israel. What is significant about this is that according to Num. 16:2 they were, “chosen in the assembly, men of renown.” Korah and the rest were leaders. God had chosen them. It wasn’t enough for them to be leaders they, particularly Korah, wanted to be in total control. They told Moses, “You have gone far enough.” (Num. 16:3) Korah rebelled against the leadership God had chosen for Israel. Numbers tells us that Korah gathered his 250 rebels with their sensors at the entrance of the tabernacle. Keep in mind the ceremonial procedures for the tent of meeting and incense and offerings were still in place. This attempted coup resulted in some serious consequences. The Lord told Moses to get back and for the people to get back. God opened the ground and swallowed Korah and the rebels. Korah and his people rebelled against the authority God gave them which means they rebelled against God. Three examples of judgment for rebellion of God’s authority.

Do not rebel against God or against the leaders He has appointed. No where are we saying blind obedience or devotion to the leader. The creepers were not wondering or questioning the leaders. They were intentionally undermining the authority of Scripture by teaching things that were not accurate. If you don’t understand something that is going on here or you wonder about something . . . ask! I enjoy a respectful conversation about Scripture, and I will easily admit I don’t know everything. I’m not sure about some things. Can God use you to show me something? Absolutely. The examples Jude mentions didn’t do that. Do not revile things you do not understand.

The Shocking Truth

You can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we saw that Peter encouraged us to manifest God’s love by using the gifts He gave to us. The emphasis was on serving in love because the end is drawing near. Throughout this letter, Peter has spoken of suffering and persecution and trials. This morning, Peter gives us some more good news.

Take a look at 1 Peter 4:12-16.

Peter gives us this great warning: don’t be surprised, more trials are coming. Just what I needed to hear. Peter has gone to great lengths to establish the foundation of their hope in Christ. He has called his readers the holy people of God, living stones in God’s temple, and heirs of heaven. Since we share in the victory of the resurrection of Christ, it seems awful unfair that the people of God should suffer. Peter’s reminder that more trials are coming may be shocking, but you have to understand why suffering comes.

Peter shows the meaning of suffering from two sides. First, our suffering for Christ is linked to Christ’s suffering for us. We share in Christ’s suffering now, but one day we will share in His glory. One is present; one is future. Consider what Peter knew about the suffering of Christ. He saw first hand what happened in the garden. He saw Christ suffer and die at Calvary. Christ, who is righteous, suffered for us who are unrighteous. In 3:18, Peter said, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” Maybe you are thinking, “But it’s just not fair.  I’ve lived my Christian life serving the Lord and all I get is heartache.” Remember Job? His crime, if you will, was that, “There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”  (Job 1:8) We have a pattern in Christ.  Remember in 2:21 where Peter said, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” Our sufferings bear witness to His sufferings. I’m not saying that our sufferings can compare to Christ’s sufferings, but they do link us together so that we can get just a taste of what He did for us.

Second, our suffering does not destroy us; it purifies us. Peter mentions the fiery ordeal. Ordeal comes from the word purosis that means the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced.  It can also refer to calamities or trials that test the character of a person. A refiner puts impure metal in a fire to melt the metal. The impurities either burn off or float to the top where they can be skimmed off. The picture is easy to see. Christ allows these trials in our lives in order to remove the impurities in our character. A jeweler has no other way to purify precious metals than to put it in a fire. The same is true of us. All the awesome things of Scripture, all the wonderful things you learn are brought home through suffering. The greatest lessons we learn in this life are brought to the front through the lens of suffering. Christ seeks to purify us by allowing us to suffer; to make us stronger; to make us more like him.

Don’t be surprised and don’t bring suffering on yourself. Verse 14 says, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Notice this is a conditional clause.  It begins with the word, “if.” Peter makes it clear that if we are to suffer or endure trials, it should be due to a real cause, the cause of Christ. Look at the words of Scripture. Matt. 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 1 Cor. 4:12, “. . . When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure.” Phil. 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” In speaking of Saul of Tarsus Jesus said, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”  (Acts 9:16) Rom. 8:17, “And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” 1 Thes. 3:4, “For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.” You get the idea.

Suffering, persecution, and enduring trials are all part of the Christian walk. Suffering for Christ leads to glory and tastes of glory; it also gives glory to God. Remember the rest of Job’s story.  Satan argued that the only reason Job loved God was because of his stuff. After all that Satan did in Job’s life, destroyed his riches, his possessions, his family, his health, everything about him, Satan destroyed. All the accusations Satan brought against God and Job were proved false. Throughout the ages, Christians have stood firmly against the accusations and persecutions that have come as a result of their living for Christ. Paul and Silas sang praises in the prison at Philippi. Peter boldly spoke of Christ to the very rulers who crucified the Savior. The same type of persecution happens today, only worse. More Christians have been martyred in the last century than in all previous centuries combined. But we’re not talking about martyrdom necessarily. We’re talking about suffering for Christ’s name.  For taking a stand about anything that is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. The idea is that if you are called to suffer for the cause of Christ, you will not be left or forsaken. God will impart His Spirit to you in proportion to your sufferings for His name. The real kicker is that through the Spirit, you’ll have joy and peace. You might be thinking, “I’d never be able to do that.” Matt. 10:19“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” The Holy Spirit will give you what you need when you need it. If you are called to suffer, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler.” In other words, if you are going to suffer, don’t bring it on yourself by committing a crime. Perhaps Peter calls out murder and stealing because they were, and remain against the law.

Peter also mentions troublesome meddlers? This word is also translated mischief maker and busybody. Chances are few of us will be guilty of murder, but who can say they’ve interfered into matters that don’t concern them? Peter is saying that there is no glory to God in suffering for our own wrongdoing and it doesn’t have to be of the magnitude of murder.

Don’t be surprised that trials are coming. Don’t bring suffering on yourself by doing wrong things. When we suffer because of the name of Jesus we should rejoice. It’s contrary to our flesh, but consistent with Christ.