Friday, March 23, 2007

Day Twenty-Five: To Hate Christ is to Disobey Christ

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).

It is perhaps an obvious implication of yesterday’s meditation, but today I want to make explicit the fact that to disobey Christ is to manifest hatred toward him. Just as our love of Christ is made visible through obedience, our hatred of Christ is made visible through disobedience. Consider the words of Nehemiah as he reflected on what happened to the Israelites after they entered the promised land: “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies” (Nehemiah 9:26). Or consider the words of the apostle John: “For everyone who does wicked things [i.e., disobeys God] hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).

And let us be clear and sober about the fact that God will severely punish such hatred: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Romans 2:6-8). And from Deuteronomy 7:9-11: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.”

Brothers and sisters, we must come to understand that when we disobey God we reveal the fact that part of us still hates God, and we must grapple with the fact that God in turn hates our hatred of him. I do not mean for this to cause us to doubt our salvation every time we sin, but I do mean for this to teach us not to trifle with our sin. I do mean for this to help us get to the root of our sin: to sin is not simply to break a rule, it is to manifest rebellion and hatred toward God. And it is this remaining hatred that we must face and deal with in the presence of Christ.

And oh, how deeply grateful I am for the fact that our God is gracious and patient and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love! How grateful I am that, even when we do sin and reveal our remaining hatred of him, we have these very great and precious promises: “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21). And, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Amen, and thanks be to God!

Prayer Focus: Pray that God will help us understand how he sees our disobedience, and that he will help us prosper in the love of Christ and die to the hatred of Christ that still remains in us.

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