“I hate those who are double-minded (or “vain thoughts” –KJV), But I love Your law . Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.” (Vv. 113, 115) [“vain – Gr.kenos; destitute of spiritual wealth, endeavors, acts, which result in nothing, vain, fruitless, without effect, of no purpose.” – http://www.blueletterbible.org ] We won’t hate vanity unless we love God and His Word. God through His Word says many things about the danger and sin of vanity and gives us sobering warnings that may be unheeded by us as believers due to the increased worldliness that has crept into the church. The following verses are just a few that show the seriousness of worldliness, vanity, and double-mindedness according to God’s Word: “You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matt. 16:23) Moffat translates verse 113 as, “I hate men who are half and half; or according to Jesus, lukewarm. “So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew (vomit) you out of My mouth!” (Rev. 3:16) The root of the problem seems to lie in what audience we are playing to – God or the world stage. God is not impressed by what impresses worldly-minded people. ”But He said to them, “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) What impresses God? “The only thing that counts (to God) is faith (trust in and obedience to God) expressing itself through love (for God and for people).” (Gal. 5:6; also see 1 Cor. 13:1-8)
“You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for (hope in) Your word. Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Uphold me that I may be safe, that I may have regard for Your statutes continually.” (Vv. 114, 116, 117) David expressed his hatred of what God hates (vanity) in the verses above and now he expresses his love for and need of God and His Word in a fallen world and with a flesh-tainted soul. Hear his desperate cry (prayer) to God to protect him from the evil around him (be my hiding place and shield) and within him (uphold me for I cannot uphold myself; why? so I will obey Your Word continually, not intermittently). God promises to be our hiding place but we must choose to go there through solitude, silence, and submission. [“I want to hide where the flood of evil cannot reach me where I’m covered by the blood. I want to be where the schemes of darkness cannot touch me; In Your presence O God.” http://www.lyricsondemand.com/s/shalomjerusalemlyrics/inyourpresencelyrics.html]
“You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes for their deceitfulness is useless. You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross; Therefore I love Your testimonies.” (Vv. 118-119) What is wrong with this statement? “God said it. I believe it. So that settles it.” The truth is, God said it and that settles it, whether we or others believe it or not. This describes the arguments against the doctrine of hell, even now among “Christian” theologians. God said it (many times in Scripture as we will see) but they don’t believe it and thus they wrongly conclude eternal hell is not true. The following is taken from a newsletter I wrote on the doctrine of hell. [“Many unbelievers and, more recently some believers, including some theologians, deny the existence of hell. Yet if you take the words of Scripture seriously, hell is no illusion but a reality. As poet T.S. Eliot said: “I had rather walk, as I do, in daily terror of eternity, than to feel that this (life) was only a children’s game in which all contestants would get equally worthless prizes in the end.” Norman Geisler answers the question of why there must be a place of eternal punishment. 1) First of all, Jesus taught the existence of hell. He had more to say about hell in fact, than heaven, in order to warn us and turn us to salvation. A few of the examples of Jesus’ teachings on hell include Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 11:22-24; 18:9; 22:13; 23:15,33; 25:41,46; 26:24; Mark 9:43-48. In Luke 16, Jesus tells a parable about a rich man in hell. “And he (the rich man) said, ‘I beg you Father (Abraham), that you send him (Lazarus) to my father’s house – for I have five brothers that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment,’” (Luke 16:27-28) 2) In addition to Jesus’ words, many other Scriptures affirm the existence of hell. One of the most vivid is Revelation 20:13-15: “Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death (hell). If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The Apostle Paul spoke of everlasting punishment and separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), and not annihilation of the lost as some have taught. In other words, hell will be eternal, conscious torment as seen in Luke 16 above. The same Greek word “aiōnios” which means “everlasting” or “eternal” is used to describe both heaven and hell in the same verse. (See Matthew 25:46) 3) God’s justice demands a hell. God is just and so pure that he cannot even look upon sin. (Habakkuk 1:13) From the very first sin of Adam and Eve, provision had to be made for cleansing of sin (God killed an animal – Genesis 3:21) for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” of sin. (Hebrews 9:22) God’s justice required a blood sacrifice for man’s sin that would cleanse all the sins of all men and only the blood of the infinite God-Man, Jesus Christ was able to satisfy God’s holy justice. Those who refuse this pro=vision through Christ must be punished eternally for they have sinned against an eternal God. Nor is all evil justly punished in this life. Hitler’s physical death alone is certainly not just punishment for a man who murdered six million Jews and others. 4) Even God’s love demands a hell. A God of love does not force people to love Him against their will. Love cannot act coercively, only persuasively. As C.S. Lewis says: “He cannot ravish, He can only woo.” In Scripture we see that God wants all men to be saved not wanting any to perish (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9) but “you were not willing”. (Matthew 23:37) Those who do not wish to be with God for all eternity in heaven will be allowed to be separated from Him for all eternity in hell. 5) God’s sovereignty demands a hell. God is greater than evil and will triumph over it. Jesus Christ defeated evil through His work on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) and will put a final end to it by confining evil to hell for all eternity. “Then the end will come, when He (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25) Some ask why God could not use hell to reform people and then allow them to enter heaven. God does try to reform people; the time of reformation is in this life. (2 Peter 3:9) Further, hell is only for the unreformable and unrepentant. Even the man in torment in Luke 16 did not repent. As C.S. Lewis says in The Great Divorce, his book about heaven and hell, some people had rather have their own way in hell than to love and submit to God in heaven. How can we be happy in heaven knowing a loved one is in hell? This is certainly one of the most difficult questions and concerns we have about hell. Yet, when we see God in His full glory I don’t believe any of us will doubt His mercy or His justice, including hell. In our finite and fallen minds, we don’t see the sinfulness of sin nor the pure white holiness of God. God is perfect in all His ways including His justice. And how can any of us look at the bloody cross of Jesus and question God’s mercy. Also Scripture assures us that He will wipe away every tear and there will be no sorrow or crying in heaven. (Revelation 21:4) Hell won’t veto heaven. If there is no hell, the cross is a sham, Christ’s painful and humiliating death is robbed of its eternal significance, and the jugular vein of the Great Commission is cut. Why go into all the world and preach the gospel if everyone is going to heaven? Life is not a game. Our eternal destiny and all of mankind’s is at stake – heaven or hell.”] http://www.lensykes.com/archives/25
“My flesh trembles for fear of You, And I am afraid of Your judgments.” (v. 120) “Is He safe?” Lucy asked Mrs. Beaver (referring to Aslan the Lion, the Christ figure in the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis). “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He is good. He is the King I tell you.” As believers Scripture calls us to live in the fear of the Lord in both the OT and NT. “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:6) “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land” (i.e., pilgrims and sojourners on earth). ” (1 Peter 1:17) “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” (Acts 9:31) Exodus 20:20 is a good Scripture to help us rightly understand the fear of the Lord. “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid (of God in a wrong way – my comments). God has come to test you, so that the fear of God (in the right way – my comments) will be with you to keep you from sinning.” In essence, Moses said do not fear God wrongly but do fear Him rightly. [“It is not a fear that hath torment (fear of hell), but a fear which increases watchfulness, and walks hand in hand with perfect confidence in saving grace.” J.F. http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/spurgeon/psalm119hints3.htm] “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:17-18) Jesus lived and walked in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah foretells the Messiah Whom the Holy Spirit would anoint with the “fear of the Lord” and “shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3, KJV) or “He is made to breathe in the fear of Jehovah” (v.3, Interlinear Bible). This describes the spiritual sensitivity, wisdom and obedience of Jesus Who said, “I always do things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29; also see Heb. 5:7) A positive way to look at this is found in Ephesians 5:21 KJV, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (or “out of reverence for Christ.”). We submit to one another and love and serve one another out of our love for Jesus (Who is always worthy of our love). So why should we fear God when we know He loves us perfectly? If your young child was about to dash out into the street in front of a speeding vehicle and you shouted STOP! – he might smile at you and keep going if you were just his buddy and being too young to be aware of the danger. But if you were his authority figure who regularly disciplined him for disobeying you he would “fear you” and stop. The natural man from Adam on hates authority (see Rom. 8 6-8) hence our propensity to do as we please to our ruin. Fear (of consequences) and high respect for authority seen in the military has the same results. When your Captain says “duck” on the battlefield, you don’t question his authority – you do as he says and save your life. Listen to what the Lord says in that vein: “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and their sons forever.” (Deuteronomy 5:29) Loving your child and engendering a healthy fear of your authority (corrective discipline) go together and likewise with us and God; they are not mutually exclusive. God loves us perfectly and therefore He is a strong disciplinarian and we are wise to rightly fear Him and thus obey Him. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. What is your main take away from the message and how can you apply it to your life?
2. “I hate those who are double-minded (or “vain thoughts” –KJV), But I love Your law .” Why do double-minded people do things that are, “destitute of spiritual wealth, endeavors, acts, which result in nothing, vain, fruitless, without effect, of no purpose?” What is the root of the problem and how can we avoid it? (Contrast Luke 15:16 to Gal. 5:6)
3. “You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for (hope in) Your word.” How did David deal with the evil all around him and the evil within him (the flesh)? How can we experience God as our hiding place and shield?
4. “You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross.” What is wrong with this statement? “God said it. I believe it. So that settles it.” Of the five Scriptural truths about the doctrine of hell and other points in this teaching on hell, what speaks to you as the strongest evidence of hell?
5. “My flesh trembles for fear of You and I am afraid of Your judgments.” ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He is good. He is the King I tell you.” What point is C. S. Lewis making here about the fear of the Lord? How does the fear of the Lord help you in your walk with God?