Church Harbors Criminals

Church Harbors Criminals

Bill Burkett

John, the beloved disciple, reveals by his own writings that he had one of the most loving hearts of all the New Testament writers. There is a legend that has been handed down to us from the early church history that tells us that when John, in his very late years, would visit the churches he would shout out to the church, “Brethren, love one another!” But John also wrote frequently in strong language on the subjects of sin, discipline and divine judgment than other authors in the New Testament. Is this a contradiction on John’s part? Was it duplicity with him? Did John have a split personality that at one time would say one thing and then another time say the opposite? No! In fact, God’s love for the sinner and His perfect hatred of sin are complimenting qualities of a single divine quality.

They are not opposites – they are expressions of the same moral quality – one toward the sin and rebellion of the wicked and the other (love) how God expresses Himself toward His obedient children. John’s treatment of these two (seeming) opposites, love for others and hatred of sin and rebellion shows the proper balance in the message John taught and preached . . . and that every true man of God should have in his message. It is this balance of truth, both positive and negative that indicates a man’s right concept of God. John knew when to be firm and corrective, and then when to be forgiving and kind. This balance between kindness and firmness was determined by the condition of the person or thing he was addressing. Paul also knew the power of dichotomous (two parts that up make the whole). In Romans 11:22, Paul wrote, Therefore Behold the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God does become angry and reacts to sin with judgment when His laws are flaunted and man chooses evil over good. To cast aside the voice of the Holy Spirit who faithfully warns us of evil and its consequences has serious consequences. God’s anger is always against those who hate and threaten what is good and right. God’s anger is an intelligent anger based on the good of man and is therefore a morally right anger, and an anger of love (seeking the ultimate good of His creature). God’s anger is held back sometimes for whole generations showing His patience and giving man opportunity to repent. (Jonah 1:2 with 4:11; Micah 5:10-15)

But the anger of depraved humans is another kind of anger. Man angers when his personal selfish preferences are violated. And even if he angers because someone has flagrantly violated the righteousness of God, it is misplaced, for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. And in another place we are sternly warned not to take vengeance on others, for vengeance belongeth unto the Lord. The anger of man is selfish and murderous. Anger is an emotion that Christians must NOT tolerate lest they displease God and open themselves to painful chastening. Anger is a sin of the spirit that blinds us from intelligent loving response to the enemies that assail us. Leave them with God! Why will you become like the one you are angry with by showing hatred to another?

John said that all brothers should love one another, that is, with great pleasure to seek the good of your brother or sister. God’s love in my heart will not think evil of his brother. God’s love in my heart will put the best interpretation on all my brother does or says. God’s love teaches me to seek the well-being of my brother and will not allow me to commit a violent act against him or do anything vengeful to gratify my hatred.

There is sometimes the necessity to administered the disciplines of the church upon members of body who commit evil deeds or immoral acts bringing terrible reproaches to the body of Christ. In these cases there will be corrective necessary corrective action taken – but never in a spirit of hatred. The godly man will hate sin but never will he hate the person who commits the sin! His actions toward that brother or sister will always be what is best for the good of that brother and the ultimate good of the church. That is not always pleasant but necessary to keep the church pure and separated from the unscrupulous deeds of the wicked.

The wrath of man is a master which he must obey once he allows that spirit to grip him. When that is allowed it becomes a cruel taskmaster driving us onward in rebellion against the spirit of Calvary love. It will drive us on into the belching mouth of hell at last. Beware when you allow hatred to block your rational powers so that you can no longer commit someone into the hands of God and turn away from your wrath – beware! But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, [awaits them] Romans 2:8.

Authority without love is a tyrant. Anger is especially dangerous and damaging when the person who comes under its madness has any office of authority. He or she will wield that authority as a raging warrior wields his battle ax over the heads of any who displease him. Nothing is more destructive to the church than anger in a man of authority who uses that authority to bring hurt to those he finds pleasure in hurting. This is another danger sign I should always be quick to cast off if it comes upon me, to find pleasure in hurting someone I have allowed myself to hate. That is the most hideous condition a man can allow himself to lapse into!

There are several things about anger that we must know;

1. Anger that is of God is for reasons of good and bad – it is never personal. Carnal anger is always senseless and selfish.

2. Anger in the end destroys the person who tolerates it.

3. Anger against a brother is the spirit of murder in the eyes of God.

4. God’s love is not present where hatred of a brother grips the soul.

5. God’s love in my heart is the only power greater than hatred. It is right to hate the evil deeds of a man or a brother – but never to hate the person of the sinner or the brother.

JOHN: Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15

The Wrath Of Man Is A Form OF Mental Illness.

According to the apostle John, murder and anger are the same sin. Most murders are committed out of anger. Anger is a cruel master and those who come under its power have lost their mind! Just as a murderer cannot have eternal life, neither can a hater of a brother. If the word of God is true then are we harboring murderers in the church? Do we tolerate them and let them go free when they should be disciplined or called to repentance?

Christians learn love by loving God and waiting in His presence and learning to have compassion on others as He had compassion on me when I turned to Him for forgiveness and deliverance from my rebellion. When the Jews drug Jesus to the top of Golgotha and there committed an atrocity that the world remembers to this day, Jesus looked down upon His crucifers and . . . loved them!! That same Christ who looked down from the cross on humans turned to animals spoke out of His weakness with a broken heart and a broken voice, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Senseless hatred and anger toward another precious brother who has been redeemed with the blood of God’s Lamb is not tolerated by Jesus.

JESUS: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [You worthless villain], shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22

I have met Christians who do not know how to love other people. They do not understand God’s love and the difference between it and human love. Without getting into a long explanation on the difference between these different kinds of love (there are four kinds of love), I will just make this one point hoping it will help every heart who’s eyes fall upon these words; Love is not something you learn by studying it and being able to define it. Divine love, agape love is a combination of intelligence and compassion. Compassionate intelligence seeks the good of another and then intelligently pursues a course that will ultimately produce the highest good for that person. It (agape) is never mere cold intelligence without compassion, nor is it all compassion without intelligent control – it is always a combination of the two – they are wed in the agape experience. Feelings without intelligence is not agape and intelligence without compassion is not agape. For love to embrace me I must experience it! Love is not learned, it is seen and inspires me when I see it. It inspires me to imitated it. When I go back and follow the crowd to the top of Golgotha and watch the death of my Lord as my substitute – knowing all the time He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the sinners world and set Him free; When I watch my Savior bleed until He cannot bleed any more, slowly being tortured to death on that Romans cross, I see God’s love and so admire it that I want to love others as Christ loved me!

And then, did you know He set up a place of tryst so we can meet with Him secretly and still be in the presence of the Calvary love and experience the glories of the cross and be inspired by it? The place He set for tryst is called the closet. Today you can go there and wait before His presence, allow His Spirit to melt your heart in submission and brokenness until all malice and hatred has been carried away in the crimson streams of His cleansing blood and merge from that closet saturated with agape! In this state a Christian is not even capable of hurting a brother or a sister. The man who can slash and bash at a brother is not holding tryst with Jesus. When I wait secretly in God’s presence until the heart is melted and my spirit is broken and contrite before God – invincible walls come crashing down! Impregnable walls of pride and arrogance that have deep foundations suddenly yield to the power of Calvary love. Down they come with thundering victory as the presence of God and the love of Calvary shatters this fortress of the Devil, the hatreds, the envy, the pride – that love for preeminence – binding power that would imprison man within the walls of ignorance and hatred are replaced with a new peace the sinner has never known.

Only God’s secret presence can turn my prison into god’s paradise

The Spirit of God pushes away all of the rubble and in the place of the prison He spreads a fragrant garden filled with the fruit of the Spirit. The darkness of self and hatred have been replaced with the gardens of paradise. a beautiful garden where we walk together. When God is allowed to invade my inner self in the secret of His presence, all that is self and Satan is overwhelmed and overthrown!

My deliverance from pride and hatred happens only in the simplicity of weeping before God in secret prayer. In that secret place alone with God is where I fall in love with Him and His Word. This is where my love of God is nurtured and the love of God, in turn, nurtures in me a love for the brethren. This is the only place hatred and the wicked heart can be transformed into His very own likeness!

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? If I do not love the brethren then I do not have the love of God. And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loveth God love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21.

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