13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Yesterday, I mentioned that fear of man over fear of the Lord is one of the biggest issues we have today, and it is a problem we can sympathize with.
I think this problem is compounded by the fact that mankind can be very merciless and unforgiving, and we know that as Christians, we have received the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.
We know that He is extraordinarily patient with us, He knows our frame, and nothing can separate us from His love. We trust in Him.
However, if we allow His goodness to harden our hearts towards fearing God over man, then there is a problem that we need to think about deeply and honestly:
Do we take advantage of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us?
I know many would argue the plausibility of such a thing. Jesus died for our sins, and there is no sin that cannot be forgiven, arguably.
However, this is not about what we might “technically” be able to get away with. This is about right and wrong.
On some level, we must know that it is wrong to take advantage of the sacrifice of Jesus, and that is precisely what we are doing when we fear man over the Lord.
That being said, who has not done this?
In some measure, who has not chosen sin or the ways of man in general over Jesus because we were afraid of what others would do or think?
I think it is safe to assume that we have all experienced this, and I think it is safe to assume that we all need a more perfected fear of the Lord.
What does it mean to fear the Lord? According to the above scripture, the fear of the Lord is to hate evil.
What is evil? I think we can understand evil as the destruction of that which was good. All things that God ordains are good. From the beginning of creation, God looks upon His doings and says, “it is good.”
Should we destroy the good workings of God? We need to learn what God is doing, and most importantly, what He has done through the Son, Jesus.
All things that Jesus teach are good. All things that were inspired of the Holy Spirit and written by the followers of Jesus and gathered as the New Testament are good. Within these words, we can learn of the goodness of God through Jesus.
However, there are things that will get in the way of proper fear of the Lord, and God rightfully hates such things: “pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth.”
Pride refuses correction. Pride lifts itself above others. Pride is entitled, selfish, and unyielding. Pride hardens hearts and blinds.
Humility is paramount if we want to know the ways of Jesus and His Kingdom. He said so Himself. How can we learn the ways of the Lord if we think we know it all already? How can we fear the Lord if we do not know Him and value Him?
Following pride comes arrogancy, which is exaggerated sense of one’s worth or importance. When we value ourselves over others, we are arrogant. When we value the ways of man over the ways of God, we are arrogant.
If we are proud and arrogant, then we are going to value the ways of evil above the ways of God. We will continue on a destructive path without regard for what the Lord would have us to do: love one another and love God.
We cannot properly love God if we do not know Jesus. We cannot know Jesus if we do not talk to Him and learn of Him through His Word. We cannot learn of Him appropriately though His word when we are listening to the prideful interpretations of man without questioning them—interpretations that cause division that’s often worsened by slander, accusation, and spiritual murder among believers.
If we do not properly value the teachings of Jesus and the love we are to learn and show the world, then we will hold other things in His place.
For example, will we forget love when one of our ideologies are challenged politically or socially? It is love to stand up for what is right and attempt to convince others. It is not love to simply prove you are right at all costs without regard for the person who disagrees. It is not love to destroy those who disagree with you, either in word or in deed.
If we stoop to these levels, then our hearts are full of murder—and murder cannot exist without pride, arrogancy, and love of the evil way. Murder cannot exist if we fear the Lord properly because Jesus is Life.
People can find ways to justify most any action they want to justify. This is pride, and pride blinds.
What’s worse is when we use the blood of Jesus to justify ourselves in an unrighteous manner. His blood does justify us, but we must repent of sin, not use His blood as a loophole for sin.
Why? Sin is destructive. Jesus came so that we can have life, not so that we can bring death without consequence.
If we fear man more than God, and we know that Jesus forgives us, then there is a temptation to take His sacrifice for granted, and I think we have all dealt with that in some measure.
It is also worth repeating that a struggle against sin is not the same as blatant disregard. I think we all struggle with some form of sin, but we should feel sorry. We should approach Jesus honestly about our sin struggles, and we can trust in Him when we do so. He is patient with us. He knows our frame.
All of this is true. It all comes down to our attitude towards Jesus and His sacrifice—whether we respect Him or take advantage of Him.
If we respect Him, we will want to do what is right and we will not excuse our sins. If we respect Him, we will revere Him more than man in all regards, or continue growing in that direction.
If we put Jesus first, we will find that a lot of the things we have held in high regard are in opposition to Him in some way, even among the household of the faith. That is a hard thing to realize, but we also know this: All things are working together for our good. God has ordained all things, even division among believers, and “it is good.”
I think He does so for our protection so that no singular power arises over us, and I also think our denominations are created in a way that speaks to the uniqueness of our human existence. There could be other reasons.
Yet, these things are not good: accusation, slander, and spiritual murder of those who disagree with us. It is not good to be proud and think that our way is the only way. It is not good to make it so that congregants are not allowed to disagree with our leaders, and if they do, they are ostracized.
It is not good to create doctrines that call evil good and good evil. It is not good to create doctrines that take advantage of the sacrifice of Jesus using a confused focus on forgiveness and grace without the necessary response of faith which is a change of heart towards the ways of God.
What about a froward mouth? This is a mouth that speaks profane and destructive things, and as Jesus teaches, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
As we grow in fear of the Lord, our hearts will turn to Jesus. This is especially true as our fears of man become nothing when compared to our fear of the Lord.
If we no longer fear what people think or what they can do to us, we can find freedom from all evil ways.
That is what Jesus offers.
If we trust that He will forgive us and raise us from the dead, then why should we care about what mere man can do to us? We have the victory ultimately.
If we trust in Jesus, He will forgive us and He will show us what His will is. He will make a way for us to escape temptation if we want to escape it. However, if we want to sin—if we want to bring death and destruction—He will allow us to do that too.
Yet, only for a time so that we can learn. He will not leave us to our own devises without showing us a better way, and He will do whatever is needful so that we can turn away from destruction and turn to Him. What will it take?