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5

When Israel found themselves in times of testing, the Lord would use those times to know the heart of His people, to see if they would keep His commands. (See Deuteronomy 8:2)

The Lord Jesus left us with one simple—not easy—command. Love.

Love the LORD your God.
Love one another.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your enemies.

We find ourselves in a time of testing today.

Our world is full of people for us to hate.

THEM, for instance.

It’s pretty standard practice to hate THEM. In fact, in the world’s eyes, you have the moral high ground if you hate THEM.

But who are THEY?

I guess it depends on where you’re standing, doesn’t it?

ISIS (ok - that’s an easy one)
The 1%
The protestors
The Donald
The Clintons
The under-educated white men of America
The Muslims
The immigrants
The police
The whites
The blacks
The browns
The gun owners

Yep - we sure can hate, especially THEM.

But the command doesn’t say don’t hate. It says love. And the love God calls us to is not some passive non-aggression. It active.

Check out the ultimate definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Love:
Is patient
Is kind
Is not jealous
Does not brag
Is not arrogant
Does not act unbecomingly
Does not seek its own
Is not provoked
Does not take into account a wrong suffered
Does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Rejoices with the truth
Bears all things
Believes all things
Hopes all things
Endures all things
Never fails

So let’s bring it closer to home.

What about your family? What about those closest to you, neighbors, co-workers, customers, vendors, class-mates?

Are you loving THEM?

Man, I thought that Jesus’ law was going to be easier than the Old Testament law where I had to be Kosher and do all that feasting and fasting and sacrificing.

But no. The love Jesus calls us to is a full contact sport. Unlike many of the Old Testament commands, it's not just a list of don'ts. In fact, Jesus said it this way,

"And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. - Luke 6:31 NKJV

The best definition I know for this kind of love—this agape love—is this.

Love actively seeks the best outcome for its object.

This LOVE command is a doozy!

Lord, again, I find myself in need of Your help to do Your will. Help me to be a lover, actively seeking the best for those you’ve put in my life. I can’t do it without You Lord. Help Lord.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Let’s walk in love today,

See you again soon,

Ben

2

My wife and I had a fight last week. It was a doozy!

The other man—he was in the fight too.

So why am I telling you about it?

You see, we fight together. The other man—I should say Man, He’s on our side too.

But we do have an enemy. That old liar, the devil, would love to see our marriage destroyed, so we have decided to be on the same side. My wife is my partner in this battle and we, together, follow our supreme Commander—the Captain of the Lord’s army, Jesus.

At the wedding of some close friends, the preacher said something very different.

When you show up at a wedding they ask you which side you want to sit on, bride or groom. When the marriage hits a rough spot, what happens? The bride goes back to her mom, her dad, her side and seeks allies. She goes looking for someone to take her side against that beast she married.

That’s the worlds plan—satan’s plan.

This preacher said to the brides side, “When this marriage gets rough, whose side will you take?” Then he asked the grooms side the same thing. “Whose side are you on when strife arises?” His or hers, hers or his?

Then he called us to promise to be on the side of the union, the side of the new creation, the “one flesh” that is this couple.

Men, when your buddy comes knocking on your door looking for a place to stay, and someone to complain to—pray with him and send him home.

Ladies, don’t give your BFF safe haven away from her hubby. (Please understand, I’m not talking about abuse here—we must be a safe haven in that situation—I’m talking about the growing pains that come with becoming one new creation) Pray with her—pray for him—and take her back home.

You see the biggest threat to satan’s schemes is a united couple with the Lord Jesus Christ at the head of the home in the center of this new creation.

The day I stopped seeing my wife as the enemy when we ran into each other, was the day I finally started winning.

Feel like screaming at her/him. Take a big deep breath and realize whose lies have you so aggravated. Remember, satan (he does not get the respect of a capital letter) is known as the accuser of the brethren. He spreads discord like I spread peanut butter.

So next time you have a fight with your spouse—remember—you’re on the same side!

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

6

photo credit: Love from the sky via photopin (license)
photo credit: Love from the sky via photopin (license)

For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;

Song of Songs 8:6 NASB

This couplet is loaded. Were there ever two stronger statements about the love Jesus has for His bride. As you probably have noticed, I'm intrigued by words. And these two lines carry six strong words.

Love
Strong
Death
Jealousy
Severe
Sheol

Striking, aren’t they?

Other than love and death each is translated in many ways, and we’ll take a look as some of those variations.

But first - to love.

Remember, we’re in the Hebrew here, so this is not one of the Greek words for love - though in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) a form of agape is used here.

I am no Greek or Hebrew scholar (I’m no scholar at all (I had to look up the word scholar)) but what I can tell you is that the word love here is the word used for Jacob’s love for Rachel - it’s a form of the word used to describe Abraham's love for Isaac when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac on the mountain. It’s as close to agape as we’ll find in the Hebrew.

Now in 1 Corinthians 13, agape is defined for us:

Love
is patient,
is kind
is not jealous;
does not brag
is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB (tweaked)

But this love Jesus has for His bride as described in Song of Songs 8:6—well—is this the same animal?

Let’s look at these compelling words and how others have translated this verse:

Strong: overpowering, powerful, invincible.

Jealousy: devotion, passion, ardent love, desire, envy.

Severe: unyielding, strong, unrelenting, intense, hard, cruel, fierce, enduring, sharp, relentless.

Sheol: grave, death itself, hell.

So, for today, my paraphrase would sound something like this:

The love Jesus has for us is as invincible as death.
His passion for us is as unrelenting as hell itself.

Last week we looked at Paul’s declaration of how invincible divine love is from Romans 8:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35-39 NASB

And incase you are wondering how unrelenting hell is—Solomon put it this way:

Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied. - Proverbs 27:20 NKJV

All the power of heaven and hell are wrapped up in the Father’s love for us. Let this sink in. A revelation of this love will change you completely. It will complete ruin low self-esteem. It will destroy doubt. It will drive out fear, and flood your heart with assurance and confidence in the one thing we can surely count on for all eternity. Jesus’ love.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon

Ben

===

Here are a few of the many ways this is translated. I used one of my favorite tools for this study - BibleGateway’s “Every English Translation” tool. Look up any single verse in BibleGateway.com and there is a link at the bottom that will show you every translation they have for that verse. It’s a great way to see how the scholars have positioned the verse you are studying.

Love is as overpowering as death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave. (GW)

Love is as powerful as death;
passion is as strong as death itself. (GNT)

For love is as strong as death;
ardent love is as unrelenting as Sheol. (HCSB)

Love is as strong as death.
Desire is as strong as the grave. (ICB)

For love is as strong as death,
passion as intense as Sheol. (ISV)

for love is strong as death; jealousy is hard as Sheol; (JUB)

for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: (KJV)

for love is strong as death;
passion is fierce as Sheol; (LEB)

Love is invincible facing danger and death.
Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. (MSG)

Love is as overpowering as death.
Devotion is as unyielding as the grave. (NOG)

For Love is strong as Death,
longing is fierce as Sheol. (NABRE)

For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy as enduring as the grave. (NLT)

For love is as strong as death,
and jealousy is as relentless as the grave. (Voice)

for love is strong as death, envy is hard as hell; (WYC)

For strong as death is love, Sharp as Sheol is jealousy, (YLT)

You can check them all out here.

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group;
Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society;
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.;
International Children’s Bible (ICB) The Holy Bible, International Children’s Bible® Copyright© 1986, 1988, 1999, 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a division of Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.;
International Standard Version (ISV) Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.;
Jubilee Bible 2000 (JUB) 2000, 2001, 2010 by LIFE SENTENCE Publishing;
King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain;
Lexham English Bible (LEB) 2012 by Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software;
The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson;
Names of God Bible (NOG) The Names of God Bible (without notes) © 2011 by Baker Publishing Group. ;
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner. ;
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.;
The Voice (VOICE) The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved. ;
Wycliffe Bible (WYC) 2001 by Terence P. Noble;
Young's Literal Translation (YLT) by Public Domain

10

Put me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the LORD.

Song of Songs 8:6 NASB

As you may know, in the days of Solomon a seal was a mark of identification and ownership.

A seal acted as a signature for kings and nobles. They used wax seals to signify the authenticity of a document or artifact. A title-deed for example, or private communication,  after it's writing, would be rolled or folded. Then the writer melted wax and the pressed his seal into the it. If the recipient found the seal broken, he knew that the communication was no longer secure.

The king’s army was the force behind the kings seal, and it was that force that would ensure the safety of the message, and the messenger. When Nehemiah went to rebuild Jerusalem, the king not only sent him with orders, he sent him with an army to ensure that his (the king’s) instructions where carried out.

When Rome entombed Jesus, the guards set a seal on the stone. It was not to give an extra two ounces of strength to the bond that held the stone in place. It proclaimed that the that the whole Roman army was holding that stone in place.

Breaking a seal on a document that was not intended for your eyes meant death.

So the Lord seals us with His love. The mark He places upon our heart and arm:

1) Marks us as His own. We are bought with the incredibly high price of His own blood.

2) Declares that all the power of His kingdom—the power of all heaven—stands at the ready to protect and defend us. The Message Bible often calls the Lord “God of the Angel Armies.” All that power stands behind His seal.

Does this mean no harm will ever befall us? A quick look at the lives of His followers will tell us that He was not kidding when He promised tribulation.

Romans chapter 8 (the high water mark of the New Testament, in my opinion) describes this seal's power beautifully:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:31-39 NASB

Wow - it did me good to read that! If you skipped it or scanned it, go back and give is a fresh read through.

If you didn’t skip it or scan it, go back and give it s a fresh read through. Trust me, it will do you good.

That is the seal that Jesus places on His bride’s heart and her arm.

Why heart and arm you ask?

From start to finish of this Song, the maiden has pursued her Shepherd King with a two-part desire.

May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine. ...
Draw me after you and let us run together!

Song of Songs 1:2, 4 NASB

Kiss Me and Run with Me—Intimacy and Ministry.

We are twice marked and have a two-fold seal on our lives.

Our Lord seals us in intimacy—nothing can separate us from His love.

Our Lord seals us in ministry—Go into all the world… I will be with you, even to the end of the age.

Get a hold of that! Not only does His seal indicate the backing of all His power. It means that we will have His presence. The seal on our arm says to those around us, not just that some far away king sent us, but that this woman, this man, carries with her the very King she represents.

I love that we are twice marked. There is a public declaration of this love. A ring, a ceremony, a wedding, with cake and candles celebrate this love. But we are also marked in a way that is private and only bride and groom know, marked in intimacy. There are things that a bride and groom share behind closed doors that no one else will ever know or see.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus.

benheadshot1I’m so glad you stopped by today. Sorry this did not make it out for Saturday. Monday is the new Saturday - don’t you think? PS - My internet has been down so I'm even later than I thought I would be - forgive me please?

See you again soon,

Ben

6

The Love Bug

You might argue that loving God means protecting His truth with a ferocious zeal.

What if our love for Jesus drew us to protect His body with a ferocious zeal.

You see - knowledge should lead us to “obey the truth we know” - wouldn’t you agree?

Peter tells us that the next step in our walk of faith - once we have obeyed the truth is to love the body - check it out:

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, - 1 Peter 1:22 NASB

I still remember the day my dear brother Kim who led me to the Lord and discipled me looked me in the eye and said it’s time to take your discipleship to the next level. We have talked much about what to believe, and what to think about truth, even how to live, but now we must learn to walk in love.

I love this verse in the KJV.

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: - 1 Peter 1:22 KJV

Let’s just soak in this for a minute:

The result of obeying the truth is a purified soul - clearly the work of the Spirit in our lives.

This leads to love that is unfeigned - genuine - authentic.

And as your life demonstrates this love for the Body of Christ, Peter exhorts us to turn up the heart (turn up the heat?)

Our love for the brethren is to be

1) unfeigned
2) pure
3) fervent

Let’s road map this.

Here is a route for a journey of faith.

We start at the beginning - obey the truth.

As we travel the road of obedience, the Spirit purifies our soul.

The waypoint we reach is unfeigned (genuine-authentic) love of the brethren (and sisteren too.)

Ok - this is a comfy rest stop - we huddle here in a warm place with a cup-o-joe - but the road is calling us. I’m gettin’ in a travelin’ mood.

As we live lives of obedience, purity and love for the body of Christ - we must press on, do not stop short of the destination.

But our method of transportation has changed - we were driving in a vehicle called obedience.

When we leave this rest area, we must get into a new conveyance - a vessel called love. Obedience only gets us so far. We must travel the rest of the way by pure and fervent love for one another.

Are you gettin’ in a travelin’ mood?

Join me in this great adventure called love - won’t you?

Ben

6

Muth and Fath on their wedding day.
Muth and Fath on their wedding day.

This one thought makes its way into my mind almost every day. Love is simple.

I didn’t say it was easy, but it’s simple.

I see all around me very complex problems with no apparent solution. I see families so torn by conflict with no hope in sight. I see people's lives crushed by the weight of their bad circumstances.

Wives broken and crushed by broken vows.

Husbands drowning in discontent caused by the lies of pornography.

Mothers with hollow hearts wishing they could get their babies back.

Fathers weeping at the graves of their sons and daughters killed by random violence.

Teens unsure of their identity having never known their fathers.

Daughters afraid to come home and face their own parents.

Sons forced to be the only adult in the home.

Children taken away from good parents by a state with an ax to grind against discipline.

The man asked Jesus:

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"

And He said to him,

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

When I take a step back, it’s clear to me that if I insert love into each and every relationship the problems become simple.

Hey - I get that there are still troubles - still crisis strikes - still tragedy may come.

But what if we didn’t add a broken marriage to the loss of employment? What if we didn’t add angry violence to disappointment?

I’m not talking about some kind of mushy smoochy kind of Hallmark love though.

I said love is not easy.

Love is work. Love often means saying ‘no’ to yourself. (That’s hard.)

I know that everyone says we must love our selves so that we can love others, and I really do get what they're saying. But as with any truth, this one often gets blown out of proportion.

Jesus had no problem with self-esteem, He had a good self-image. (The very image of God - that is a good self-image.) But He demonstrated love as He laid down His life for those who hated Him - those who rejected Him - those who would take His life by force.

He counted His life, His entitlements, His priorities, His privilege, of less importance than the lives of those He came to save: the pharisees, the Romans, the lost sheep of Israel, those in Palestine, those in Asia Minor, the inhabitants of continents yet undiscovered and unknown to the writers of holy scripture. (As He put it - Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. - Acts 1:8)

Love is the simple answer to all the world’s problems. But it must be applied liberally and without reserve.

That’s what I’m thinking.

What do you think? Have I over simplified?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

shine

 

Who is this that grows like the dawn,
As beautiful as the full moon,
As pure as the sun,
As awesome as an army with banners?

Song of Songs 6:10

When we started the Song, our maiden’s self assessment was, “I am dark, but lovely,” (1:5 NKJV) but today we find her blossoming into Christian maturity and she is anything but dark now.

Her light shines three ways.

Dawn

First, she is like the dawning of the sun, light overwhelming darkness.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, - Colossians 1:13

As she rises in the East, those around her are captivated by her light, and drawn to her Shepherd King. Who can miss the transformation in a life given to the Lord?

I have known folks who make a profession of faith, and never really emerge from darkness. There are times I find myself drawn to the darkness. I feel the tug of my own lust drawing me toward the sin that schemes take me captive again to darkness.

But the most beautiful thing in those moments of temptation, those seasons of night, is to see the light of dawn breaking over that darkness. When a daughter or son of the king shines before me as the morning light, I again see my calling, hope rises with that sun, and I rise out of the darkness.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Moon

Two things we know about the moon.

First, the moon is light that shines in the darkness.

Last month we had a glorious harvest moon, and you needed no other light to function outside. You could walk down dark paths with no need for added illumination. The Moon at it’s brightest is sufficient light to find the way.

The Moon get’s its light from the Sun, mealy reflected light. It doesn’t generate light, but mirrors the radiance that comes from Earth’s own heavenly light.

The maiden reflects the glory and majesty of her Shepherd King and Lord. He is the light of the world.

Sun

So He is the light of the world, but He instructs us to shine. He is not simply the source of our light as we reflect, but like candles, He puts His light within us and sends us out to shine in the darkness.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16

See the Lord’s amazing wisdom here:

YOU shine so people see YOUR good works.

Often I hear that shining is doing good works, but that’s not what Jesus said, He said SHINE so people see your good works and when they see that good things YOU have done in such a SHINY manner, they will glorify Our Father!

Why would God get the glory and not me? If I am doing the good works, isn’t it going to glorify me?

Nope.

1 – You will be way to shiny for a mere mortal – you have been lit on fire with God’s light. That flame on your head has clearly been installed by the Father of Lights.

2 – Your works will be the glorious and wonderful works:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 NASB

No one could look at the works you were intended to do and think they were natural works. The works God has for you are supernatural.

Things like loving your spouse, loving your neighbor, loving your enemy, loving your children, loving your boss. SHINY stuff like that.

The shiny part is your character - or should I say your Nature - your new nature - your super-nature. This instruction to shine follows on the heals of the Beatitudes, where we learn the progression of the Christian walk - the stairway to maturity you might way.

So today the Lord says:

Shine My sister, My bride, My son, My friend, My child, Shine.

Shine in the darkness, rise in the morning, and burn with the fire I have place within you.

Shine

nora and papa at the table, benSee you again soon.

Ben

9

Christ And The Rich Young Ruler - Heinrich Hofmann

 

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, - Mark 10:21

Here is a detail that the other gospel writers omit in this encounter with the rich young ruler.

Jesus brought him to the place where he was supposed to see his need, but the young man missed it. This did not anger Jesus, nor did it frustrate Him.

If you remember Jesus drew him to the law, and the young man, rather than hearing the conviction of the law, seemed to be strengthened in his self-righteousness by it.

I suppose that as a man of means, the preachers of his day may have coddled him, and appreciated his covetousness, since it no doubt helped their ministries. They were not about to advise him to sell the ‘stuff’ that held his heart, and kept him out of the kingdom.

No, they used the truth unrighteously to bolster the ego of this young man, keeping him bound.

As far as he was concerned – the law was not his problem.

But Jesus loved him.
Jesus loved the man while others loved his money.
Jesus loved this sinner while others used him to gain influence.
Jesus’ desire was to see him free from the slavery of wealth while others strove to keep that prison shut up tight.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus
Love of every love the best

S. Trevor Francis

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping in.

Keep shining.

Ben

4

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

She brought me a toothbrush, and a clean pair of yoga pants. And underwear.

She didn’t ask if I needed some skivvies before schlepping across town to hug her friend at the hospital. Obviously, asking someone “Do you need some underwear?” will always be an awkward question, no matter how close you might be. Instead, she walked around her own quiet house at dawn, and asked herself: “What might someone wish for after two all-nighters in the hospital?” This is how you do love.

189ce274cf67a62a835d20d9929e2b35

He came and prayed.

He didn’t ask if he should come. Despite knowing he’d battle rush-hour traffic, and would likely miss morning appointments, he still arrived in the early hours. He opened his Bible, and tenderly read a Psalm that his daddy had read to him as a boy, when he was too scared to sleep. This is how you do love.

If you’re like me, I often don’t do love very well. It’s not for lack of love, or an earnest

Read more: Should I Stay Or Should I Go? | Given Breath.

5

question-mark

My wife heard a speaker the other day say:

“We say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin, but the Bible says that God hates sinners.”

This declaration was startling and unsettling to my wife and others and it got us talking. She posed the question to me, and told me the references the speaker quoted were from the Psalms.

Here is what we found in Psalm 5 and 11:

The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.**

Psalms 5:5-6 NASB

The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.

Psalms 11:4-5 NASB

In pondering this question, my first reaction was to go to the revelation in the New Testament of God’s love. We have clear teaching in the New Testament that God loved us while we were sinners:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ... For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. - Romans 5:8, 10 NASB

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:16 NASB

What do we do with this?

I want to approach this question from two sides.

First we will look at love and hate from a biblical perspective.

Then we must look at how the Father views sin and sinners.

Let me first state that when I approach a subject like this, I take the Bible to be authoritative – both Old and New Testament. If I don’t understand what is going on, the shortfall is on my side, not in the Word.

The great thing is that God has told us if we lack wisdom, we can ask of Him and He will give it liberally and without recourse. (That makes me happy!)

Love and Hate

Back to the question at hand. How can an unchanging God love sinners in the NT and hate them in the OT? Did He change? Nope. In fact you will find a reference to God hating even in the NT:

Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED." - Romans 9:13 NASB

We can’t say that the blood of Jesus made it possible for God to love us, because the blood was shed not to allow God’s love but as a result of God’s love.

Where do we go?

I believe the difficulty here is that we have broken the word love. We have taken our definition of love from Hallmark rather than the holy and pure Word of God.

I fully believe that God has emotions. He has compassion, pity, anger, sadness, and joy. But what if love and hate are not emotions? What if they were not feelings at all? What if they are actions – attitudes - choices?

What if love is a deliberate choice to behave like this:

Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

God’s definition of love is not feeling based but choice based. This is why He can command us to love. He does not command us to feel, but to do, to be loving. In a recent sermon on this topic, my friend Todd Lukas made the statement "Hate is not the opposite of Love, Pride is," which when you are working with this Bible definition of Love, makes a ton of sense.

And what if hate was a deliberate choice to exercise wrath? If you take the time to read more than just the favorite verses above in Romans 5 and John 3 you will find that each passage mentions not only the love of God but also the wrath of God.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. - Romans 5:9 NKJV

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. ... "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." - John 3:18, 36 NKJV

I can tell you authoritatively that God loves sinners, and that an unrepentant sinner faces the wrath of God even while God loves him.

I can tell you for sure that Jesus drank the cup of the Father’s wrath that was stored up against all sinners – for me – for you – for us – for them. He paid the price for our sin. He took the wrath of God – the reality of God’s hatred toward sinners – the outward expression of God’s hatred for sin – upon Himself.

I can tell you for sure that because of this – Jesus’ amazing act of love – the Father’s amazing act of love – there is no longer anything keeping a sinner from coming to the Father. The Father’s hatred was swallowed up by His love.

Sin and Sinners

I do want to take one further approach to this question. It is on the front of how the Father views sin and sinners.

Let’s go back to the common truism passed off as scripture these days – “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” We have seen that God loved us in our sin and offered up Jesus. But how did He offer Him up?

Check this out:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB

Notice here that the Father made Christ sin – He did not make Him a sinner – He did not make Him sinful – He made Him sin.

Notice also that the Father made us the righteousness of God – He did not make us righteous people, but He made us righteousness. We were not just sinners – we were sin. You have heard it called a sin nature. Your very nature was a nature of sin. When God looked at you without the blood of Christ He did not see a sinner – He saw sin.

This is why Christ had to become sin – this is the great substitution. Christ became sin and you and I become righteousness.

Now God can look at us and delight in us! He can rejoice over us! He can look at us and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” You are righteousness in human form.

Perhaps you get an idea of why I so abhor the label of sinner being applied to those of us who have been born again. Christ’s atonement is complete and effectual. It leaves nothing of the old man behind. [Tweet This] He is dead and in the grave. He was left there when Christ rose from the dead.

Let me close with this passage from Romans 6.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. - Romans 6:3-7 NASB

Talk to me about this?

What do you think?

How do you understand these things?

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

 

** As an aside - I wonder if David's understanding of God's abhorrence for liars and those who shed blood changed after his encounter with Bathsheba and Uriah? Was this written before he learned of how God would forgive and love David even after he committed these very sins?

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