In my last letter to you on the fear of the Lord, I attempted to expound on the knowledge that this fear we speak of is one of reverential trust, and I pray that in this final letter on the subject my feeble attempts will enable us to see and understand what this fear of the Lord entails. It is an item that seems to be becoming less and less noticeable in the Christian community, something that is glossed over, or at the most in many cases watered down, and that subject matter is the hatred of evil. To phrase it in its complete terms, the fear of the Lord is reverential trust and the hatred of evil, and so we must be able to discern wisely in the Scriptures what God considers evil to be, what it is, how do we recognize it, and what are we suppose to do about it besides hate it.
The inverse of hate, as far as our human intellect can distinguish, is love, and love is a topic that my caring wife and I discuss on a regular basis, not only in respect to each other, but in how we are to express it to others and to our Savior Jesus Christ. True love is an action, it is not only a feeling, for if a feeling is left unexpressed, it benefits no one but the individual in whom it resides, but when love is expressed, it becomes an action, and both the individual and the recipient receive joy from it, and when done in the context of Scripture, the Lords Name is also blessed.
If you will read in Genesis 6:5, you will see that God saw that every imagination of the thoughts of man was only evil continually, and from this I believe we can safely presume that man’s actions were also, and that because of these intents and actions the Lord destroyed all life on earth that had breath in it, (Gen. 7:21-22) save those in the ark. From this event in history, and many others, we can quite easily see that evil is something that our Lord will not suffer, it is sin, and the wages of sin in that time was the end of life for all flesh. We must look at a question here then, is evil sin, is sin evil.
There is a verse in the Scriptures that is quite interesting here, quite relevant, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23) This verse relates back to our previous study in the area of the fear of the Lord, for if we do not trust the Lord, then our faith is not real, or at the very least needs to be diligently prayed about, but is it evil not to have faith, is our lack of trust in Him in the area of care and provisions for us evil. I would contend that the answer would be no, for it is not an action, but an inaction, a time, or period of time that occurs in the life of every child of God that, most generally when the future is unknown to us, we doubt, we stop and wonder why, and until the event completely unfolds, as much as He allows us to see in this life, the questions override the trust that can only come by faith. I would encourage you to do some research yourself here and see just how many times Christ said to someone, “Your faith has healed you.” A lack of faith can perhaps at times be considered sinful, but not I believe evil, a subject matter that sometime in the future we may look at, this I will leave to the leading of the Holy Spirit. So then, what is evil?
In the present contextual structure for our day we could say that those who commit acts of atrocity are evil, but then we would need to discern if the person was evil, or the act. Before our Lord called me at the age of 27, many of the acts that I committed were considered evil even by those who knew me best, even the lost individuals that were my ‘cohorts’ saw and recognized something in me that was deeper, willing to go further, less human, if you will, a young man who at times cared nothing for the moral constructs that society had set up, a young man who at times knew no compassion for anything or anyone. Does that describe evil, or an evil man, for this old man now serves God with a fervent heart that the young man knew nothing about. Those who have been forgiven much, love much, and yet this old man inhabits the same body that the young man did. (2nd Cor. 5:17) Therefore, in my humble opinion, I would conclude that no human being is evil, that the Scriptures are true, that there is a loving God who forgives all to those who will truly repent and come to the cross where His beloved Son once hung.
If this is true, then evil is an action, and this action is against the Will of God. What is worse then, the evil of throwing babies into the Nile river, (Exo. 1:22) the evil act of killing them before they even leave the womb, or the inaction of doing nothing about it when one knows that the incidents are occurring. Moses’ mother went against the law that Pharaoh had set, that all of the male children that were born to be cast into the river to be drown, her action by the grace and mercy of God changed the course of history for the children of Abraham, yet Moses, thinking that he was God’s chosen, took it upon himself to try to free the people from the house of bondage, and killed a man. (Exo. 2:12) Was that action evil? Paul, the man God used to write much of the New Testament, brought many to prison to be tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ, yet was used mightily by our Lord after his conversion. Were the acts that he committed before he was blinded on the road to Damascus evil?
I place a question here before you, my friends, are acts against people evil, or those committed against God, or both. “Thou shalt not kill” (Exo. 20:13) is best interpreted “Thou shalt not murder,” for if good men, even Christians, do not stand up in war time when evil men try to rule, evil would rule continuously, therefore all murder is an evil act, yet not all killing is. Look for a moment at Luke 11:13, where Christ says “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children.” These of course that He was speaking to had not yet received the blessing of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them, yet even for us that now have him inside of us, we have the ability to choose to do either evil or good.
In my humble opinion then we must decipher that the opposite of evil is good, and yet again though, our Lord said to the one who came running up to him in the Book of Mark, 10:17-18, “There in none good but one, that is, God.” Only the Holy Spirit has the ability to do good through us, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” (Isa. 64:6) we have absolutely no ability within ourselves to do good, but we have every opportunity to choose evil.
Is then anything that we do, any action that we take outside of the will and word of God evil, perhaps so, does our Lord alone posses the ability to do good, for we know that He never does evil. I would humbly assert that any act that we perform willingly and of our own free will that is not meant to glorify God and His Son Jesus Christ is evil, for the only conclusion that I can deduce is that act or action would be done solely for the purpose of self, or to the detriment of another person, or blatantly and by choice against God, as our adversary does. Formulated thoughts that are brought to fruition are called actions, no matter how they are expressed, and actions that are not obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that do not serve the Will of God, must be questioned.
How then would you say that I can watch, say a television program and still glorify our Lord, well, what are watching, how about when I am in the grocery store, how do I serve God there, the list is endless of the day-to-day routines that we all must do, and since it is not our thoughts that we are speaking of here, but our actions, we have only one choice, one option, to make sure that as much as is in us that our actions are never construed as evil, we must emulate the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no other way.
In this day and age, the vast majority of Christians seem to do nothing when they see or hear of evil, it is on every street corner and we just walk right by it, telling ourselves that we are not to judge, a deceiving lie of Satan that many now believe, “It’s none of my business,” “It’s wrong, I know, but I don’t want to get involved.” We lock ourselves behind barred windows and doors and tell ourselves that we will pray about it, when actually for the most part we do all that we can to just ignore it, and if that evil does not directly affect us, then it is of no concern of ours. Sad, but in many cases true.
Tell me my friends, what purpose do you have the whole armor of God on for, to protect only yourself, or to stand in front of those brothers and sisters in Christ who refuse to don themselves with it, to stand in the gap that they refuse to occupy. Do you wield the sword of the Spirit with accuracy and talent, striking at the evil all around us as often as possible, or have you left it in its sheath, letting others stand at the front of the battle. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, are you hating it only in your mind, or are you cut and bruised from fighting it in the spirit, are the powers of darkness, is the horde of Satan aware that you are a soldier in the Lords army, a battle-worn combatant that stands strong in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, or are you still consumed by what may happen to your earthly body and the comfortable life that you live in it.
If you are purposed in your heart to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, (Matt. 22:37) then you must hate evil, and this hatred must be in the form of an action, whatever way that the Lord leads, and the only way that you can be sure that the action you are to take is the correct one is through prayer. To many pick a cause out of the air, as it were, and do not seek the will of God in this area, and so then many fail and fall, for they have not properly prepared for the battle to come. Remember, we are fighting against principalities and powers, (Eph. 6:12) but these forces of darkness nearly always come in human form, and though most are human, and act through their own sinful, selfish desires, they are spurred on by our adversary, but not all of them are human, they are demons in possession of human hosts, willing or unwillingly. More discernment than I can give to you must be applied here, and our heavenly Father is more that willing to give that discernment to all who will ask, for He deeply loves His obedient warriors in Christ. This is not a path that He has chosen for all, but for those few that our Lord desires to use in this way, it is a clear path.
The fear of the Lord is to hate sin, and this hatred of sin must be acted upon by all who call Jesus Lord. Ask Him to show you the path that He has chosen for you in your walk with Him in this area of your life, and the strength to remain on it, but do not ask for this path that we have been discussing here hastily, for although the war has been won, the battle is fierce, and many there are that have fallen in it, but all of them fell right into the arms of Jesus.