Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Hate what is evil, cling to what is good!"

Throughout the Arab / Muslim world hatred toward America is being expressed by thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands.  While the blame for the anger is being placed on a foolish, disgustingly ignorant film which presents the Muslim's prophet, Mohammed, and Islam in a bad light, the truth is that Islam, as a religion, proclaims and promotes the conquering of the world by the followers of Mohammed.  America is hated for many reasons, but the hatred and violence being expressed is not of God, certainly not a god who is worthy to be worshiped.  The hatred and violence is the result of a failure to acknowledge the God of the Bible and to draw near to Him through Jesus Christ.  The human heart without the Spirit is filled with violence.  America is even hated from within by those who benefit from the freedoms God has granted us by His grace.  They don't know any better because they are so self-absorbed that the only "good" they see is what THEY want, and when they don't get it, hatred is the result and at any moment, violence may show itself in small or large ways, from angry words to murder.

This brings up an interesting and necessary question:  How do you determine what is good and what is evil?  What standard should we use to decide what qualifies as good or acceptable behavior and what isn't?  Is it purely subjective - up to each individual?  More and more people today seem to believe that there is no objective standard by which we can judge any behavior.  "Anything goes," is more than a slogan in our culture and in many places in the world today; it is the motto many people have adopted as their motivation for being tolerant of all sorts of behavior.  But "anything goes" gives no guidance in determining what is good or what is evil; in fact, it denies that there is any difference between the two!

As Christians, we hear God's voice saying, "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9).  God Himself defines what is evil and what is good.  In the commandments and throughout His Word God draws a distinction between behavior that pleases Him, that glorifies Him and that is "good," and that which is evil.  Every word, every thought, every action can be "judged" by this unchangeable standard.  When God says, "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good," He is talking about His revealed will - the things He has said we should DO and the things He has said we should NOT Do.  It's really not that difficult.  God's standard was revealed in the Garden of Eden, and then more fully in the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai - the Ten Commandments, and then by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and by the apostles as they expounded on God's Word and were inspired by His Spirit.

Why is all this important?  Let's let Solomon tell us:  "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil"  (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).   Every person ... every human being who has ever lived, who is living now, or who will live must stand before God one day.  God will pronounce His just judgment on all who do evil ... and the ONLY escape ... ... ... ... the ONLY escape is faith in Jesus Christ.  Muslims do not know Jesus Christ, but they are not alone.  People all around us are living "without God and without hope in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).  That is why there is so much evil in our world.  That is why there is so much hatred in our world.

WE must be careful not to be engaged in evil ourselves.  As followers of Jesus, we know we are not yet perfect, but that is our goal.  The Spirit of God is at work within us producing "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"  (Galatians 5:22-23).  But even these do not take away our sins.  Only the blood of Jesus Christ can do that and by receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord we are covered by His blood, justified (declared innocent) in God's sight, forgiven!   Then we are called to proclaim this good news.  To do that we must point out evil, and we must also proclaim what is good.  Too often we are good at pointing out evil, but we don't point people to God's standard OR to the cross of Jesus as the answer for evil.

God says, "Hate what is evil" AND "cling to what is good!!"  We need to do BOTH!

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