Monday, March 31, 2014

Impassioned Prayers

This begins as a repost of the "7 Deadly Sins" beginning quotation, and proceeds as a reflection. This was a Journal entry I wrote last year sometime, reflecting on and outlining the entire process of an evening's prayer. Not quite an imprecatory prayer, but a prayer of pleading for God to deal with evil men justly. (An imprecatory prayer would be "they are SO wicked that you need to destroy them!", whereas in the text, you'll see that I ask God to either save them or destroy them, but to protect innocents from them).
16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus affirmed that not all sins are equal.

                He told Pilate, “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” So there is the testimony, “from the horse’s mouth,” that says plainly that not all sins are equal. All sins are sin. And if you consider that because God is infinitely holy and just, then all sins are infinitely offensive to Him. But there are degrees of infinity. Consider the mathematical truth that one times infinity and 3 times infinity are both still infinity. This explains how come God can hate all sin and how the punishment for every sin, no matter how small or how frequent or how numerous, is always going to be an eternity in hell, for him who rejects Christ’s substitutionary atonement. This all being said, then, there are some sins that God appears to – in human terms, from our human perspective – hate more than others. What is the point of listing these seven sins as being ones that He hates if He hates all sins equally. He would either have to list all other sins or list none of them. So there does appear to be something “special” about certain sins that God targets as being abominations. I don’t have the energy to look it up, now, but I’d be interested in seeing whether the word translated “abomination” in this passage is the same as the word used to describe homosexuality. Because as you’ve probably noticed, homosexuality is not included in this list. I think it’s an especially perverse sin that shows the depths of human depravity in a unique way, but it’s not the most offensive or most evil of all the sins. I think murder and lies are ultimately the worst. And so hence my interest in investigating what God thinks are the ‘worst sins,’ to see what I can learn from it.

                Let’s try to identify the 7 sins in one-word definitions: Pride. Lying. Murder. Planning to do evil. Desiring to do evil. Lying. Sidetracking virtue and the virtuous.  I’ll openly admit, here, that while I have no doubt about my understanding of the first three and the sixth, my interpretation of the other three could be mistaken, and the meaning of them depends on whether or not the assumptions I made in this case were accurate. For example, I took “brethren” to mean believers, rather than biological or national family, in this case. It could equally well apply to the latter two. I just don’t know for sure without checking Strong’s Concordance. The feet that are swift to run to evil—I put the emphasis on the running to evil over the swiftness, seeing it as the attempt to do evil, rather than the conclusion of the act, but this could also be mistaken. It could be the latter or both. Also the heart that devises wicked plans could be emphasizing the ‘heart’ rather than the ‘devising.’ So there are  a number of valid ways to interpret this. But I think I see two or three categories of multiples, and pride in a category by itself. See if you agree with my evaluation:

Being an enemy of good – “inventing new ways of doing evil” (Romans 1) and attempting to sabotage God’s plan by promoting evil and by attempting to cause strife among those who are seeking to be on God’s side.

I’m really struggling to come up with a short description of that last one that will encompass the meaning I’m getting out of it. Maybe it’s clear to you; if not, I apologize.  But I find this fascinating. That is, that the things which God states that He HATES include one of the things that I have come to hate with a burning passion: lies. I absolutely despise misinformation and any case of falsehoods being propagated as truth. That’s bad. But let’s take it up a level. Suppose that someone is doing this knowingly and not by accident—then they are not just perpetuating falsehood, they are lying. Let’s say that a person who tells untruth is confronted, and they disregard it and persist in telling lies – then it is pervasive. Worse is if they not only have been told the truth but actually understand it, and yet persist—then it is malicious, because they do what they not only have been told is wrong but what they themselves believe is wrong. And if we go up one more level, and suppose that they are intentionally speaking lies in order to mislead others, and/or to cause harm, then they are deceitful. This is the worst kind. When you take this and have a person who is intentionally lying, saying what they know is false, in order to deceive others—for the purpose of undermining the efforts of believers and/or God Himself (here’s the fourth category I perceived above), then you have someone whose soul is rotten and foul and so blasphemously evil that I admit, as I am writing about this, my heart rate has increased and I have actually felt a strong emotion of anger just considering it. I’ve dealt with this so often online. I finally couldn’t take the abuse from [Bumbling Whiner] and [Grumpy Geezer] and (to a lesser extent, amazingly) [Haughty Proudface] anymore, and chose to leave. Remaining there was emboldening them and legitimizing their behavior by giving it my attention. I’d already done what I could—having given them the Gospel multiple times, corrected their lies on several occasions, and fingered them as deceitful liars, there was nothing more to say. I “shook the dust off my feet,” and have not posted since...January 19, [editor's note: I posted this roughly mid-spring 2013] though I’ve paid some limited attention to new posts that have been made on the site. It was necessary for my benefit. And I was, I perceive, doing nothing to help the Gospel; if anything, it must have been vastly outweighed by the negative effects of being always embroiled in conflict with these aggressors. I’m seeking to meet more people in person because it’s possible to have a much better effect that way. It could be because in-person communication is the Holy Spirit’s default modus operandi, which He wishes us to do, since He’s been working through that medium since the beginning.  …. Anyway, to sum all of that up, I really hate lies.

                And if I hate lies, how much more so does God, who is Truth itself, hate lies. Every lie offends God because it’s a direct affront to His character. Inasmuch as lies offend me, I am encouraged because I think this may be evidence of my sanctification by which I am receiving the ‘mind of Christ’ and being progressively transformed so that my desires mimic His. God, who is perfect in His attributes, must burn with an everlasting hatred toward the disgusting perversion of the truth for evil purposes by sinful men. It is an awesome thing to consider. And I mean “awesome” as in the 1611 meaning, where the definition was synonymous with “terrible.” – Frightening.

                When all of these things roll into one, surely you must have an Evil of Evils on your hands. A prideful man who in his idolatry sees himself as the arbiter of truth and the sword of justice against those whom he disagrees with. Despite this, the man believes lies and seeks to deceive others in order to accomplish his goal of interfering with the spread of the Gospel and the furthering of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. And since Jesus said “he who hates his brother is a murderer,” and John in 1 John 3:15 follows that up with, “and no murderer has eternal life in Him,” this prideful liar hates the Gospel, hates Christians and therefore has murder in his eyes – and lo, if he had the power and opportunity, he would accomplish murder of the flesh as well – and so the people I have dealt with in on line fora have been evil, evil men. I’m not condemning them. They stand condemned already. They have a tendency to try to make you feel guilty in your righteous judgment when they claim to be Christian, but when their every action is in opposition to the Gospel, and they do nothing but mock and deride those who speak the Truth of God’s Word, when they do not preach the Word themselves, when they defy Biblical commandments and lie about the meaning of Scripture, spread assorted heresies, display acrimonious pride and show contempt toward believers, then there is no mistake on my part to say that they are not Christians. If there was merely a misunderstanding, that would be a different thing. But when you do the devil’s work, and you persist in opposition to God’s glory, and do your best to persecute His saints (inasmuch as you can accomplish that on a message board), then you are not merely mistaken, but you are willfully deceived and you are lost. I feel a deep pity for these men. I am incensed at their evil words, but I would nonetheless wish them to be saved. But if they do not change, God will be oh so just to cast them into the Hell which they so richly deserve. And there is no sin in being satisfied at the exacting of God’s justice on the heads of the unrighteous. What would be sin would be if it pleased me that they be destroyed rather than forgiven and transformed. But here is the dividing line: he who seeks forgiveness will receive it from God, and it will fill me with joy to call the repentant my brother. But he who never repents, but continues in his evil ways, will not receive the forgiveness offered through the Cross, because indeed he refused to come to the foot of it. And there is no mourning for those in hell. The only thing to be careful about is to not assume that someone is in hell or is destined for hell, no matter how good we presume our perception to be. God could be working on them in secret, such that I do not know for sure what will ultimately become of those who have “with lies made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad. (Ezekiel 13:22)” I should not be pleased at the thought of them being in hell or going to hell. I can be pleased at the thought of IF they do not repent, that God will deal with them justly, and remove their evil from the realm of the living, that it may confound me no more. But what I should always wrap up thinking about God’s justice with, is the thought that God is rich in mercy and that He has the power and prerogative to choose to save even the most vile sinners—the number of whom, lest I forget, I also used to belong to, but am now reconciled to the Father—and that the fact that the decision is ultimately God’s will give me peace, so that I do not need to concern myself with what will happen to these men. They could go on as the blasphemous, proud, hateful liars they are until they burn in Hell for it, or they could be miraculously transformed by an executive act of God’s sovereign grace and love, into children of God and brothers of mine in Christ. I know not whither they will go, but knowing that the choice is God’s takes the burden off my shoulders, and off my mind. It’s not for me to choose—or know—what will happen to them; all I know is that the end result will be just and right because God is a good God and He does what is good and just. To conclude all this, my final prayer should be that God exercise His sovereignty and save these recalcitrant sinners, that my anger may not have the final word but that God’s love shall overcome my finite emotions—whether led by the Spirit or led by the flesh (and I hope, the former, as much as possible). Having finally relieved my mind of this and cast my burdens on God, who is strong enough to bear them, and wise enough to decide what to do with it all, I can rest, knowing that He is in control, and I need not worry. I am free to go on seeking to do His will as much as I can, wherever I can, and to grow in the Spirit, until He returns or calls me home. With this in my mind, I am spiritually, mentally and emotionally at peace, and can sleep, satisfied.

                This is what my prayers are like. Not always about judgment. But in those times when I have prayed about others that I risk hating if I’m not careful, what you see above is essentially the thought process that I have gone through as I’ve “talked it out” with God, until I’ve reached the end of my prayer. That is why I wrote at the end that I can sleep. :)

~ Rak Chazak

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