Michael Boling – Walking in the Light: Dealing with the Sin of Hatred

“Anyone who claims to be in this light while hating his brother is still in the dark.” 1 John 2:9 (CJB)

When we think of sins, most think of the big ones such as murder, adultery, pornography, and drunkenness. Hatred towards our fellow man, in particular towards our brothers and sisters in Christ is a sin we often overlook. That is unfortunate given the Apostle John in 1 John 2:9 equates hatred towards another as akin to walking in darkness. Those who claim to be followers of Christ should not live in hatred towards others. Walking in the light in an attitude of love is incompatible with walking in darkness in an attitude of hate.

Given that one manner in which the world will know we are followers of Christ is by our demonstration of love for one another (John 13:35), to have an attitude of hatred is not in keeping with what God expects of His people. In order to understand what this hatred is all about, let’s spend some time unpacking the short but powerfully important passage of 1 John 2:9.

The first half of this verse notes there are those who make the claim they are in the light. The Greek word translated as light in 1 John 2:9 is phōs. It has a variety of meanings all related to something giving off light. We find in Scripture those who walk in the light are the righteous. This begs the question as to what is the source of this light we are to walk in as God’s people. Psalm 119:105 reminds us “Your word is a lamp for my foot and light on my path.” In order to walk in the light, the follower of Christ must walk according to the precepts and instructions found in God’s Word which is the light that shines on the path of life, determining for us how it is we should live.

We also find that all of God’s commands found in His Word are rooted in loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31). Loving God and loving others are behaviors that encapsulate all of God’s commands to us throughout Scripture. This means to walk in the light is to walk in the truth of God’s Word which commands us to walk in love towards God and others at all times. If we claim to walk in the light and if we claim to have Scripture as the light and foundation for our life, walking in love will be a hallmark of our life.

The Apostle John notes in 1 John 2:9 that walking in love is not always the case for most people. There are many who claim to walk in the light yet continue to hate their brother. John declares that hating your brother is not walking in the light but is rather walking in darkness. The Greek word translated as dark or darkness is scotia, meaning “the darkness due to want of light.” It is often a metaphor used in Scripture to describe those who are ignorant of God’s Word and His commands. This term is often specifically related to the wicked and those in bondage to sin.

Of further note is what is meant by the word hate. John uses the word miseō which means “to hate, pursue with hatred, detest.” We can clearly see that such an attitude is one that is demonstrated by a pursuit of hatred, a continued attitude towards our brother rooted in detesting the very sight of them or even the sound of their name. This means hatred is an active problem and rears its ugly head in a number of ways in our lives each and every day.

As followers of Christ, we have been delivered from bondage through the shed blood of Christ. With that said, we still have to deal with the sin nature. One element of sin that continually entangles us is that of hatred. When we claim to walk in the light yet allow a root of hatred and bitterness to maintain its hold in our lives, we are not allowing the light of God’s Word to penetrate the darkness that still remains and wants to still grab hold of us. In order to deal with the root of bitterness, we have to allow God’s Word to sink into every fiber of our being. God’s Word is “at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). When we walk in the light of God’s Word, it will shine into those dark corners of our hearts, cutting through that root of bitterness and hatred.

Hate can be demonstrated in so many ways. We may think that hate is simply snippy words or a bad attitude or grinding your teeth and rolling your eyes when someone’s name is mentioned. While those are certainly indications of hate, walking in a spirit of sinful hatred towards others is actually quite more. Glenn Barker aptly notes, “Whenever a brother has need and one does not help him, then one has despised and, in fact, hated his brother.”[1] That reality certainly puts us all in the category of walking in a spirit of hate more often than we would like to admit.

Dealing with hate in our lives is a must. Walking in hate towards another, whether they are a brother or sister in the Lord or someone outside the household of faith is akin to walking in darkness. Walking in darkness is equated all throughout Scripture as sinful behavior. Thus hatred is sin and sin in all its insidious forms must be dealt with through the work of the Holy Spirit. When the light of God’s Word permeates our hearts and minds, we can walk in the light which is love towards God and others. Being obedient to God’s commands is the very definition of walking in love. John Calvin comments “the love of God teaches us to love men, and we also in reality prove our love to God by loving men at his command. However this may be, it remains always certain that love is the rule of life. And this ought to be the more carefully noticed, because all choose rather almost anything else than this one commandment of God.”[2]

If you are struggling in this area, spend time in prayer and in passionate study of God’s Word. Pray that the light of God’s Word and His love would shine through in all areas of your life and in your dealings with others. Pray that God through the work of the Holy Spirit would uproot the sin of hatred in your life and that He would replace it with love and compassion.

References:

[1] Glenn Barker. “Commentary on 1, 2, & 3 John” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12: Hebrews through Revelation. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 317.
[2] http://www.ccel.org/study/1_John_2

Cris Putnam – The Poison Fruit of the Serpent Seed

Often times we gaze upon a seed and have no idea what sort of plant it might become. A children’s poem expresses this idea: “Plant a seed and watch it grow. What it shall one day be, we do not know.” Ideas are like seeds as well. Often we do not see where they might lead. Like the seeds in the poem, sometimes the only way to judge an idea is to see what it grows into. A very small notion can grow into an ideology very quickly. Hitler’s idea of racial supremacy was a small seed that grew into a world war and well over 6 million dead bodies. Marx and Lenin’s atheistic ideas have led to over ten times that. Clearly, ideas are potent. In theology, a very small error can have a collateral effect on nearly every other doctrine. Huge heresies nearly always grow from very small seeds.

One such idea is the Serpent Seed doctrine. This is the teaching that in the Garden of Eden, the serpent had sexual relations with Eve. The result was that she bore Cain. The primary notion is that the original sin was sexual. This has some visceral appeal because the doctrine that fall of man resulted from a poor produce selection seems fanciful. Sexual temptation is something we all can relate to and agree is powerful. The problem is that it is directly opposed to the clear and explicit word of God. It is easily refuted by Genesis 4:1.

Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1, NAS)

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Doug Wilson – Psalm 89: Turreted in Mercies

INTRODUCTION:

In the previous psalm, Heman the Ezrahite poured out his complaint with seemingly no argument at all. In this psalm, another Ezrahite, a man named Ethan, has a strong complaint as well, but he mounts it on top of an unshakeable foundation of covenant promises. He comes before God with expectations and arguments.

THE TEXT:

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, And build up thy throne to all generations. Selah…” (Ps. 89:1–52).

SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:

Foundationally, we know that God will be absolutely faithful to His covenant with the house of David (vv. 1-4). Ethan then expands his vision, and spends some time praising the power, justice, and mercy of God (vv. 5-14). When a people have a God like this, then they are truly blessed (vv. 15-18). Covenants have terms, and Ethan delights to go over those terms in some detail (vv. 19-37). Having laid the groundwork for his petition, he then pours out his desire and petition (vv. 38-51). And with that, the psalm ends on a double amen.

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Owen Strachan – Scandalized by the Substitute: A Response to Young and Gungor

The doctrine of atonement for sin is—or at least has been—at the center of Christian faith and practice since Jesus’s earthly ministry. But in recent days, various voices have raised objections to the cross. Musician Michael Gungor called the atonement “evil” and “horrific” on Twitter, decrying a God who would mandate blood sacrifice for sin. William Paul Young, author of the 20-million-copy-selling The Shack, concurs. In his new Lies We Believe About God, Young says of Christ’s death:

Who originated the Cross?…If God did, then we worship a cosmic abuser, who in Divine Wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner. Frankly, it is often this very cruel and monstrous god that the atheist refuses to acknowledge or grant credibility in any sense. And rightly so. Better no god at all, than this one.

Don’t miss this: The most popular Christian writer in our time labels the biblical God a “cosmic abuser.” Ancient false teaching returns.

Gutting Scripture

Young’s scorching anti-God, anti-cross formulation comes in a chapter titled “The Cross Was God’s Idea.” According to Young, it’s a lie we believe about God that our Father sent his Son to die for us. We cannot miss how strong an attack this is on biblical theology. Young guts the cross of its sacrificial nature, though he maintains it’s a display of justice: “[W]hile evil is never justified, it is redeemed and rescued from its intent, thus becoming a statement of true justice.”

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Kristen Wetherell – 5 Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible

Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it?

Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent truths through illustration about why we need our Bibles right now and every single day. We should not bypass these truths because they are the difference between spiritual life and death; between conviction and apathy; between joy, peace, and strength and discontentment, anxiety, and fear; between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus intimately.

Here are five reasons that you desperately need the Bible, as illustrated in the book of Ruth.

You need the Bible so your soul doesn’t starve.

Threat of starvation loomed before Ruth and her mother-in-law. They moved back to Bethlehem after their husbands and sons died, leaving them without male protection or provision. So the women had to find a way to keep themselves alive. Ruth decides to glean in the fields of family members, “in whose sight [she] shall find favor” (Ruth 2:2), with her sights set on Boaz’s part of the field.

Boaz takes note of her hunger and determination. He asks his servant about Ruth, who replies,

She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.” So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest. (vs. 6-7)

Ruth gleans for dear life, and for Naomi’s life. She knows she will find favor here, that she can come and will be received, and that gleaning from this field will save both she and her mother-in-law from physical starvation.

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Robert Murray McCheyne – What Have I to Do with Idols?

“What have I to do any more with idols?” Hosea 14:8

When Christ came into the temple, He found those that sold “oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple” (John 2:14-15). So when the Holy Spirit comes into any heart, He drives out the buyers and sellers. If you have received the Spirit, you will be crying now in your heart, Lord, take these things hence; drive them out of my heart. What have I to do any more with idols? Some of the idols to be cast away are:

1. Self–righteousness. This is the largest idol of the human heart, the idol which man loves most and God hates most. Dearly beloved, you will always be going back to this idol. You are always trying to be something in yourself, to gain God’s favor by thinking little of your sin; or by looking to your repentance, tears, prayers; or by looking to your religious exercises, your feelings; or by looking to your graces—the Spirit’s work in your heart. Beware of false Christs. Study sanctification to the utmost, but make not a Christ of it.

God hates this idol more than all others, because it comes in the place of Christ: it sits on Christ’s throne. Just as the worship of the virgin Mary is the worst of all kinds of idolatry, because it puts her in the place of Christ; so self-righteousness is the idol God hates most, for it sits on the throne of Christ. Dash it down, dear friends. Let it never appear again.

It is like Manasseh’s carved image in the Holiest of all (2 Chr 33:1-15). When Manasseh came home an altered man to Jerusalem, would not his first visit be to the Holiest of all? With eager hand he would draw the veil aside; and when he found the carved image, he would dash it down from the throne of God. Go and do likewise. If you feel God’s love freely by the righteousness without works, then why would you go back to this grim idol? What have I to do any more with idols?

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Richard Baxter – 6 Ways to Know if you Love Yourself More than God

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“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

You hear ministers tell you of the odiousness and danger and sad effects of sin; but of all the sins that you ever heard of, there is scarce any more odious and dangerous than selfishness; and yet most are never troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity. My principal request therefore to you is, that as ever you would prove Christians indeed, and be saved from sin and the damnation which follows it — take heed of this deadly sin of selfishness, and be sure you are possessed with true self-denial; and if you have, see that you use and live upon it.

And for your help herein, I shall tell you how your self-denial must be tried. I shall only tell you in a few words, how the least measure of true self-denial may be known. And in one word that is thus: Wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God’s interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere. If you further ask me how this may be known, briefly thus:

1. What is it that you live for? What is that good which your mind is principally set to obtain? And what is that end which you principally design and endeavor to obtain, and which you set your heart on, and lay out your hopes upon? Is it the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the everlasting fruition of Him? Or is it the pleasing of your fleshly mind in the fruition of any inferior thing? Know this, and you may know whether self or God have the greatest interest in you. For that is your God which you love most, and please best, and would do most for.

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Dr. Andrew Fabich – The Dirt Is Alive: God’s Design for Soil Microbiome

God made dirt — before He cursed it along with the significant amount of life present in the soil. In one acre of land, there is an equivalent biomass of an octopus in terms of the microbial life. The life in the earth is so immense that it directly affects crop yields and the food chain. While it’s often swept under the rug, we shouldn’t dismiss the amazing design found in soil particulates.

Mud Pies and Microbes

I remember making mud pies as a child for my mom—she didn’t like them too much. Pie making was always the best just after a good rain, but I had no idea that I was covering my hands in germs. Though I now know there was probably other biomaterial present in the soil (e.g., the organic matter called humus), back then the combination always warranted washing my germy hands when I went inside. In terms of our overall health, there is a fine balance between all the germs in the dirt and all the other stuff that it is made of. Dirt is dirty, but not in the ways that we often think.

While earth is typically considered to be only rocks and dirt, life is also abundant in soil. But we cannot observe all the living things in the soil with our eyes—they require a microscope for us to see them.

We know that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1); however, Scripture is silent on using words like bacterium, germ, or microbial ecology. Therefore, though no one can assertively determine which day God actually created bacteria, we have a pretty good idea when bacteria were brought into existence.3 There is no doubt that God created “everything” and called it “very good,” so that must also include bacteria. Since we find bacteria with a purpose in dirt and we know that God created the dirt, we know that God created the dirt with microbes as well.

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Jaquelle Crowe – How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years

A Life Transformed

The gospel changes everything. To live a life transformed by the gospel means that everything in life changes.

The first thing is our identity; who we are as people. We’re no longer teenagers defined by the world’s standards. We’re no longer defined by sin, by what we once wanted to do, but we are defined by the gospel, by God—our identity as children of God in Christ. That means the entire narrative of our lives is changed, so we are part now of the greatest, biggest story ever told. We’re actually a part of the story of the gospel, and of God’s people. We get to live in this story, which means everything in our lives and our circumstances changes.

It also changes our community, who we spend time with. It changes our love for God’s people, and makes us want to be a part of a local community of God’s people. It changes how we act, what we find funny, what we post on social media, what we read. Prior to the gospel, we thought a certain way, we acted a certain way, we had this ideology that directed us, and the gospel just flips it on its head and revolutionizes everything.

It means that our entire lives are now about the gospel and about Jesus — not about us, not about what we want to do, but about Jesus and what would honor and glorify him. How can I act today and tomorrow, and how can I plan my future, with the gospel in mind? How can I go to school, how can I read, how can I watch TV in a way that brings honor to Jesus, instead of me?