Saturday, 19 October 2013

"...Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

Romans 12:9
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

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The last two commands in this passage are basically opposites of the same coin. By doing one we have to do the other. If we hate evil, we need to cling to good. I we are clinging to good, we must hate evil. (Note: I've done a post on the first command here)

Hate what is evil

We are called to hate sin. As Christians, how do we do this? i think it comes from knowing God. When we know God and all he has done for us, we will love him sincerely. As a result of knowing God we will realise both how holy and perfect he is and therefore how much he hates sin. I think hatred for sin naturally comes from genuine love for God.
So how do we develop that love for God?

  • Know him better. We do that by reading his word and spending time in prayer asking for his help. We need to know who God is to be able to love him, and he has revealed who he is through his word - not through anything else at this time.
  • Know what he's done in the world and for us. Know what he did through Jesus for us. We do that again by spending time in his word, and reflecting on it. Through God's works we see his character more clearly. It's easy to know that God is love, but that becomes so much clearer when we see that he (The son) came to earth as a man, suffered and died in our place.
  • Obey. Our obedience to God needs to come out of our love for God, but I think by obeying with the intention of growing in love for God then we begin to develop that love. I may be wrong on that, but we most certainly are called to obey out of love, and it seems to me that we also learn to love God more as we trust him enough to obey him.
But there are also other things we need to do to hate evil. We need to get rid of sin in our lives. We need to pray for God's help to hate our sin. We all have different temptations that we fall into and different sins that we love. For me there are many, but especially pride, selfishness and idolatry in putting both myself and my friends before my love for God. 

It's hard to hate these things that we love. But we need to hate them, and through the Holy Spirit, God can change us and help us to love him more. It's only through his grace that we can do this. But we have to work at it.

Cling to what is good.
As I said before, this is the flip side of hating what is evil. As part of hating evil, we need to cling to what is good. These two things work together. As we hate evil we will naturally love what is good. As we love what is good, we must hate evil - otherwise we cannot truly be loving good. The two are opposites: evil and good cannot ever both be loved by us. They are like opposing sides of a magnet that repel one another - they cannot be forced together

So what does clinging to good look like? God is good. He is the definition of goodness. He creates the standard for what is good. Therefore clinging to good is clinging to God and relying on him. In our society we love independence. We love being ourselves and living how we want. But God calls us to submit entirely to him, to rely on him and his grace.
The only way to cling to what is good is to cling to God.

But clinging to good does look a bit more specific then just saying you're a Christian. We need to obey God if we are relying on him and trusting him. If we hate evil, we need to do good - and as I said before, goodness is God's standard. Therefore we need to obey God. 

How do we know what God wants us to do? From his word again. We need to be pending time reading and thinking about and applying the bible to our lives. Thinking about where we are disobeying God and doing it.

Our actions do not save us. They don't make us right in God's sight - we have all sinned and cannot save ourselves. Jesus came to earth and he was perfect, and it is only through faith in him that our sins can be removed (that's why he died on the cross and rose again). But if we truly love God and truly trust in him - if our faith is truly in him, we will obey his commands. We will hate what is evil (our sin, which meant we deserve hell) and cling to what is good - to our saviour and to God's perfect standard.

I hope those thoughts were helpful - feel free to post any comments or thoughts below!
God Bless!
Nat.

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