TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 97:1-12
TO CHEW ON: "You who love the Lord, hate evil." Psalm 97:10
Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God course is challenging and inspiring. While going through the study some years ago, I marked up my workbook by underlining statements like:
"Obedience is the outward expression of your love for God" p. 74.
"If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem" p. 75.
Though our focus verse from Psalm 97 doesn't contain the word "obey" or "obedience" isn't that what hating evil is all about? It's obedience in reverse. It's our negative response to evil which helps bring about our positive obedient response to God. And it's the litmus test of our love for God. (A footnote in my Bible says about this verse: "This is an extremely simple but an extremely accurate means of evaluating our regard for God" - New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 761),
What, then, is this evil we are to hate?
The Hebrew word for evil is Ra and is loaded with badness. In English the word evil is defined: "morally bad, wicked deeds causing injury, damage or any other undesirable result, wrongdoing, wickedness."
It is interesting that sin in relation to evil is a cousin word, a once-removed synonym. One of the definitions of sin in Hebrew is to "miss the mark." This implies there is a mark or an objective standard to miss. I'm sure the psalmist had that at the back of his mind as he spoke of evil. For him evil included the sin of worshiping idols instead of God, neglecting to keep the ten commandments, and ignoring the rules of feasts and sacrifices.
The evil we are to hate isn't all that different. Our obedience in keeping the ten commencements is a good start. But when we truly love God, we will go deeper, following the example of Jesus as we examine even the motives from which our actions spring (Matthew 5:21-32). We will begin to recognize sin's subtlety as it tempts us to wrest controls of our lives from the Holy Spirit, back into our own hands.
Blackaby has an interesting definition of sin:
"The essence of sin is a shift from God-centredness to self-centredness. The essence of salvation is denying self instead of affirming self. We must deny ourselves and return to God-centredness in our lives" Experiencing God, p. 32.
I ask myself, do I love God to the extent that I see loving and serving myself — with my seemingly legitimate plans, ambitions and desires — above loving and obeying Christ, as sin. It's sobering to realize that not my words but the quickness with which I obey when He interrupts my day with a phone call or an emergency is the real demonstration of my love for Him.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to recognize selfishness/self-centredness as evil, and to hate it. Help me to prove my love for You with quick and enthusiastic obedience. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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