“Ye that love the Lord, hate evil”
The above quotation is from Psalms ninety-seven verse ten. It places the believer in God squarely in the middle of good and evil. A choice is not left to those who love God; we must hate evil. I have heard and read that “there is a fine line between love and hate—between good and evil.” I am not informed enough to question that statement, in fact, in my limited experience I must confess that there are situations when discerning between the two is somewhat difficult. Whether the line is broad or exceedingly thin, clear or clouded, uniform or tangled, the command is the same, we who love the Lord must hate evil. Paul, the Apostle put it this way, “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” (Rom. 12:9). There is no argument for the child of God, we are to hate evil and glue ourselves to the good. This article will consider some areas where the “water has been muddied” so to speak, by the theories and teaching of men on religious subjects. It is hoped at least to some extent that these will be cleared up so that we can rightly place our affections and remove our hearts from places where love is forbidden to us.
In all things God places before us the standard by which we are to measure and determine what is good and all else. This we are to pursue. God places in our view the goal we are to strive for noting that anything short or inferior is to be rejected and separated from our love, devotion and affection. The Lord declared, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” (Mt. 6:24). As oil and water do not mix, love and hate cannot coincide.
Love must be separated and stand apart from hate. Again, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). Dissimulation is sometimes translated “hypocrisy or unfeigned.” It means that love is to be sincere. The writer then attaches to that the admonition to “abhor (hate) evil and stick to the good.” That should tell us that there is an inherent danger of confusing what we are to love and what we are to hate. Observation in our time tells us that this is a most important precept. Many Christians and men like me that preach the Gospel oppose evil but they do it with such weakness that we often stand in the shadows wondering about their meaning. They do not openly condone evil yet their opposition is so faint that evil runs wild. Often we scratch our heads asking ourselves, “what do they really mean?” They do not sanction evil but they do not stand in its way either. However, opposing evil is only half the equation, we are to “take hold of the good and hold on with all our might.” Included are such things as those that have to do with proper worship and the general conduct of a Christian. When we cease to hate evil and fail to love the good it is not too far down the road until the two lines will converge and the distinction can no longer be detected. Any speaker, writer, or Christian that fears to state clearly what is evil or what is good is not worth his salt. Yet, that is exactly what some congregations want or at least what they practice. Legion are they who will fill their pulpits. May Heaven deliver us from such men and such congregations!
IF WE DO NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY WE ARE DESTINED TO REPEAT IT
Everyone knows I did not coin the above statement. It is one of those oft-repeated truisms that is accepted or at least believed by all. The subject now being considered certainly falls under its canopy. Many of the problems that have raised up and remain among the people of God could have been avoided had this slogan been pursued. Love and hate have lost their distinction in various areas because this was not remembered and practiced. Every departure from God’s word has come about by men who violated this long tested truth. Especially has this been true in the realm of worship.
THINGS STATED AND THINGS NOT STATED
There are some things that God has specifically said, “thou shall not do,” but more times than not this is implied in the specific commandments He has positively issued. For example: when God told Noah to make the Ark of Gopher wood, for Noah to have used pine would have been a violation assuredly as if God had said, “thou shall NOT use pine.” When the Israelites were in Egyptian bondage and were commanded to select a lamb for the Passover Meal for them to have selected a cow would have been a violation as surely as if God had said “thou shall NOT kill a cow.” Remember when the sons of Aaron offered “strange fire” before the Lord which caused fire to come out from the Lord killing them? The reason given for their life being taken was that they offered that: which the Lord “commanded them not.” (Lev. 10:1-2). God had not said “thou shall NOT offer strange fire” but having stated what was to be done the prohibition was as clear as if He had said it in those terms. This Bible principle is stated many times in both Testaments as a demonstration of what or whom we love and what or whom we hate. From the New Testament, which directly affects us, notice the following with me.
- Instrumental Music in worship. Every time music is mentioned in worship of the church it is always (every time) vocal music. It is of no consequence what the music was in Old Testament times, nor does it matter what kind of music is going to be in Heaven neither of these have anything to do with the practice of the church in this dispensation on earth. At the conclusion of the gathering of Jesus with His disciples in the upper room we are told, “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out” (Mt. 26:30). In Romans 15:9 it is stated, “I will confess thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.” Furthermore, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” (I Cor. 14:15). Ephesians 5:19 declares, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” In the sister epistle, “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16). There are two passages in Hebrews, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (2:12 & 13:15). Anyone who can see through a window pane can see that singing is required while not one thing is commanded or exemplified regarding instrumental music. If we use the New Testament as our guide and pattern then we must sing offering the fruit produced by our lips as a sacrifice of praise to God. I shall not venture to say what or to whom mechanical music is offered unto.
However, with this clear instruction before us those who wish to use the instrument began to muddy the truth. Hear them: “instrumental music just helps us in our singing.” “Instruments are aids to singing.” “When instruments are played we are still singing.” So, it is they would not and do not stop until instruments are brought into the worship violating the truth and dividing the church. They have pushed until people who otherwise loved the good and hated the evil, were blinded and failed to see the distinction between truth and error. Love for the Lord and love for the world are mixed until the line between them is unrecognizable and the Christian that hates the instrument is accused of lacking love for God and His Son Jesus. How can anyone claiming to be a servant of the Lord Jesus contend for or use instrumental music in worship knowing that it was foreign to the church in New Testament times? Not only that, but their use has created division in the body of Christ. Is the practice one that is truth, according to the Word of God or does it fall into the tent of evil loved by the enemies of the Lord? Do you love it or hate it?
- Dividing into classes for teaching God’s word. There is no dispute about the disciples in New Testament times coming together to eat the Lord’s Supper. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” (Acts 20:7). None that I have heard of contend that we can separate into various rooms or groups to eat the Lord’s Supper while segregated. Notice the instruction in regard to teaching. “If therefore the whole church be come together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart are manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth” (I Cor. 14:23-25). The instruction here is about speaking in tongues in the assembly. There is however some obvious truths stated regarding the assembly in general. Notice the following:
a) This would have been a wonderful time to tell the disciples that there is no harm in dividing the assembly, as one tongue (language) could be placed in one room and another tongue in a separate room or place. However the Apostle did not disrupt the assembly.
b) The “whole church” was in one place to be instructed.
c) Coming in were those “unlearned” and others that were “unbelievers.” Now these could be used to refer to the same people, as those who have not learned of course would not believe, likewise, those who did not believe would be in that condition because they had not learned. Yet, Paul names them as different groups. Is it not possible that the “unlearned” were those who were too young to have become acquainted with the truth? And the “unbelievers” were those who were old enough to have learned but had not as yet believed. Could it be that he is speaking of children and adults?
d) Whatever your conclusion they were all: the whole church, the unlearned and the unbelievers in the same assembly. No dividing into Sunday schools or Bible classes.
Robert Raikes founded Sunday Schools in Gloucester, England. His intent was to obtain a better life for the poor children by educating them. Since they were free from work on Sunday he began gathering them on that day. His biographer Alfred Gregory worked on the newspaper owned and edited by Mr. Raikes for forty-five years. He wrote, “the numbers at first were small, but their increase was rapid…Mr. Raikes very soon saw himself surrounded by such a set of little ragamuffins as would have disgusted other men less zealous.” The type of characters he attracted are described as “misbehavior, which was merely from a want of a better information…wickedness, malice, hatred and ill-will.” Mr. Raikes was at first interested in lifting the children out of poverty rather than attach religious significance to the work. The churches very quickly saw this being a means of winning the children so they adapted the practice. Needless to say, the practice of Sunday Schools was not Apostolic. Promoted by denominational churches, the Church of Christ (as is often the practice) began having Sunday School even though many observed that they are not taught in the New Testament. But like many innovations they soon gained a following as the lines between truth (good) and error were mingled and many went off on the practice until churches and Christians were divided. Some attempt to make a difference in Sunday Schools and Bible Classes by protesting, “we don’t have
Sunday Schools, we are opposed to that system, but we have Bible Classes,” a difference that many could not distinguish mainly because there is no difference. Nowadays it is common to see “Sunday School” on the signs of many places of worship. Brethren who are not satisfied with God’s arrangement often try to muddy the water between truth and error by declaring that “classes are a method of teaching just as writing is a method and speaking is a method.” The fact is dividing into classes is NOT A METHOD OF TEACHING IT IS A SYSTEM OF ARRANGEMENT. Teaching is NOT done in one assembly or in classes until someone teaches, whether by writing or by speaking. Again, the water is mudded by preachers saying, “look at the good it does,” or “what harm could it be?” The same has been said of every innovation. Harm and good are determined by God’s Word not the practice of men. The number of people opposing Sunday Schools has diminished with time. Many fail to look into the matter and just sail along with the crowd, a sad predicament for a people claiming to be the New Testament Church, speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent. The Bible says nothing about Sunday School, (try to name a passage). Scripture is as silent as a tomb respecting it. The question is, do we love the Lord enough to respect His will or do we hate everything contrary to what the Bible says enough to reject it? Are we willing to accept truth and reject error?
Barney Owens 1605
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. (E. Wiesel).