Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Have you ever known a daredevil? Possibly you are old enough to remember Evel Knievel. Evel (Robert Craig), performed his death defying stunts on a motorcycle. He jumped just about everything imaginable and even attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho. He also broke just about everything in his body. Despite the numerous injuries, Evel, just kept going back again and again, often returning strapped to a gurney.
I had a daredevil friend in the Navy. One Sunday morning in Hawaii, I was watching television when a bulletin interrupted the show I was watching. A news clip was shown of a helicopter rescue of a man who had been stranded on a cliff. Hours later I learned that the man rescued was my friend. A week later he attempted to climb that same mountain. Fortunately, his second attempt was more successful than the first and only cost him a broken arm.
In today’s focus scripture we read that God “guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” What a wonderful promise. God “guards” and “delivers” those who are faithful to Him.
Notice the opening words of Psalm 97:10, “Let those who love the LORD hate evil.” If you truly love God you will hate evil and have no part in it. The irony here is that many of us are sin daredevils. We embrace sin, reap the consequences, come to our senses, call out to God and He “delivers” us. Then, just like a daredevil, we go right back to that dangerous sin from which we had been delivered.
It would seem logical to think that we would be smart enough to refrain from putting our hand back into the fire. Why would one be so foolish to return to the wicked company or behavior from which he had been delivered? The problem is that we don’t “hate evil.” We see evil from the Devil’s perspective: beautiful, alluring, exciting, and pleasurable.
True love respects and honors. When you truly love someone you seek to engage in behavior that is worthy of the person you love. The same is true in your love for God. “Let those who love the LORD hate evil.” You abstain from evil behavior and relationships because you “love the Lord.” Your relationship with Him has grown to seeing evil as God sees it. Evil is not beautiful, alluring, exciting, and pleasurable. In the eyes of God it is offensive, reprehensible, detestable, and completely unattractive. The more you love Him the uglier and less attractive evil becomes.
Loving God and hating evil results in faithfulness to God to which He responds by guarding “the lives of his faithful ones…” and delivering “…them from the hand of the wicked.”
Many times, as a pastor, I witnessed people who desired to get their lives right before God. They would come tearful, broken, and repentant. For a time they would throw themselves into godly living and even get involved in serving the Lord in His church. Then one day they would disappear and return to the same wicked pit from which they had been delivered. But why?
Everyone is capable of good behavior. It’s kind of like going on a diet. We’re all capable of going on a diet for a time and then, we cave into temptation, and before long we’re right back to our old eating habits. The person who is given to evil behavior can, for a time, engage in right living.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell. You cannot overcome wicked behavior by working solely on the behavior. The answer is not in behavior modification. You must fall in love with Christ.
If you want to “hate evil” then work on your relationship with God. Spend time with Him. A lot of time. Pray continually, read and study His word daily, and diligently strive to please Him. Work on the relationship. The key to godly living and faithfulness to God is found in your relationship to Him. As the relationship matures you will see evil for what it is. It will no longer be the thing you crave or desire. It will be the thing you hate. In that loving relationship with the Lord you will discover that “he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: Freedom From a Guilty Conscience
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.