Do You Hate Lawlessness?
“You [Jesus] hated lawlessness.”—HEB. 1:9.
1. What did Jesus teach regarding love?
STRESSING the importance of love, Jesus Christ told his disciples: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35) Jesus commanded his followers to show self-sacrificing love toward one another. That love would be their identifying mark. Jesus also exhorted them: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you.”—Matt. 5:44.
2. Followers of Christ should develop a hatred for what?
2 In addition to teaching his disciples about love, however, Jesus taught them what to hate. It was said with reference to Jesus: “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness [wickedness].” (Heb. 1:9; Ps. 45:7) This shows that we must develop not only a love of righteousness but also a hatred of sin, or lawlessness. It is noteworthy that the apostle John specifically stated: “Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness, and so sin is lawlessness.”—1 John 3:4.
3. With regard to hatred for lawlessness, what areas of life will this article consider?
3 As Christians, then, we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Do I hate lawlessness?’ Let us examine how we can show our hatred for what is bad in the following four areas of life: (1) our attitude toward the abuse of alcohol, (2) our view of the occult, (3) our reaction to immorality, and (4) our view of those who love lawlessness.
Keep Alcohol in Its Place
4. Why did Jesus enjoy freeness of speech when warning about heavy drinking?
4 Jesus occasionally drank wine, recognizing it as a gift from God. (Ps. 104:14, 15) However, he never abused this gift by indulging in heavy drinking. (Prov. 23:29-33) Jesus thus had freeness of speech when counseling against such a practice. (Read Luke 21:34.) Misuse of alcohol can lead to other serious sins. Thus, the apostle Paul wrote: “Do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but keep getting filled with spirit.”(Eph. 5:18) He also admonished the aged women in the congregation not to be “enslaved to a lot of wine.”—Titus 2:3.
5. What questions might those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages ask themselves?
5 If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, you would also do well to ask yourself: ‘Do I share Jesus’ attitude toward heavy drinking? If I need to counsel others on this matter, do I have freeness of speech? Do I drink to escape worries or to ease stress? How much alcohol do I consume each week? How do I react when someone implies that I might be drinking too much? Do I become defensive or even resentful?’ Allowing ourselves to become enslaved to a lot of wine can affect our ability to reason things out properly and to make wise decisions. Followers of Christ strive to safeguard their thinking ability.—Prov. 3:21, 22.
Avoid Occult Practices
6, 7. (a) How did Jesus deal with Satan and the demons? (b) Why are occult practices so widespread today?
6 While on earth, Jesus firmly opposed Satan and the demons. He rejected Satan’s direct attacks on his loyalty. (Luke 4:1-13) He also identified and resisted subtle attempts to influence his thinking and actions. (Matt. 16:21-23) Jesus helped deserving ones to escape cruel domination by the demons.—Mark 5:2, 8, 12-15; 9:20, 25-27.
7 After Jesus’ enthronement as King in 1914, he cleansed the heavens of the contaminating influence of Satan and the demons. As a result, Satan is—now more than ever—bent on “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Rev. 12:9, 10) It should come as no surprise to us, then, that fascination with the occult is widespread and is growing. What measures can we take to protect ourselves?
8. What self-examination may be in order concerning our choice of entertainment?
8 The Bible clearly warns of the dangers connected with spiritism. (Read Deuteronomy 18:10-12.) Today, Satan and the demons influence people’s thinking through movies, books, and electronic games that promote occult practices. When selecting entertainment, therefore, each of us should ask himself: ‘Over the past months, have I chosen to be entertained by films, TV programs, electronic games, books, or comics that feature uncanny practices? Do I understand the importance of rejecting occult influences, or do I downplay these dangers? Have I even considered how Jehovah might feel about my choice of entertainment? If I have opened the door to such satanic influences, will my love for Jehovah and his righteous principles impel me to act decisively and slam that door shut?’—Acts 19:19, 20.
Heed Jesus’ Warning About Immorality
9. How might a person nurture the love of lawlessness?
9 Jesus upheld Jehovah’s standard of sexual morality. He said: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6) Jesus knew that what we take in through our eyes can affect our heart. In his Sermon on the Mount, he therefore stated: “You heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27, 28) Those who ignore Jesus’ warning are in reality nurturing the love of lawlessness.
10. Relate an experience showing that an individual can break free from pornography.
10 Satan promotes sexual immorality by means of pornography. The present system of things is awash with it. Those who view pornography find it difficult to erase the immoral scenes from their minds. They can even become addicted to pornography. Consider what happened to one Christian. He says: “I secretly viewed pornography. I created a fantasy world that I thought was disconnected from the world where I served Jehovah. I knew that this practice was wrong but told myself that my service to God was still acceptable.” What changed this brother’s thinking? He states: “Although it was the most difficult thing I have ever done, I decided to tell the elders about my problem.” This brother eventually broke free from this degrading habit. “After I cleansed my life of this sin,” he admits, “I finally felt that I had a truly clean conscience.” Those who hate lawlessness must learn to hate pornography.
11, 12. How can we show hatred for lawlessness when it comes to our choice of music?
11 Music and its accompanying lyrics can strongly influence our emotions and, therefore, our figurative heart. Music itself is a gift from God and has long held a place in true worship. (Ex. 15:20, 21; Eph. 5:19) But Satan’s wicked world promotes music that glorifies immorality. (1 John 5:19) How can you tell whether the music you listen to is defiling you or not?
12 You might start by asking yourself: ‘Do the songs I listen to glorify murder, adultery, fornication, and blasphemy? If I were to read the lyrics of certain songs to someone, would that person get the impression that I hate lawlessness, or would the words indicate that my heart is defiled?’ We cannot hate lawlessness in word while glorifying it in song. “The things proceeding out of the mouth come out of the heart,” said Jesus, “and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies.”—Matt. 15:18, 19; compare James 3:10, 11.
Adopt Jesus’ View of Those Who Love Lawlessness
13. How did Jesus view those who became hardened in sin?
13 Jesus said that he came to call sinners, or lawless ones, to repentance. (Luke 5:30-32) How, though, did he view those who became hardened in a course of sin? Jesus gave strong warnings against being influenced by such ones. (Matt. 23:15, 23-26) He also clearly stated: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day [when God executes judgment], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’” However, he will reject those who unrepentantly practice lawlessness, saying: “Get away from me.” (Matt. 7:21-23) Why such a judgment? Because such individuals dishonor God and cause harm to others by their lawless practices.
14. Why are unrepentant sinners removed from the congregation?
14 God’s Word commands that unrepentant sinners be removed from the congregation. (Read 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.) This is necessary for at least three reasons: (1) to keep Jehovah’s name free from reproach, (2) to protect the congregation from contamination, and (3) to help the sinner come to repentance if possible.
15. Loyalty to Jehovah calls for an answer to what searching questions?
15 Do we share Jesus’ view of those who have become set in their lawless course? We need to give thought to these questions: ‘Would I choose to associate regularly with someone who has been disfellowshipped or who has disassociated himself from the Christian congregation? What if that one is a close relative who no longer lives at home?’ Such a situation can be a real test of our love of righteousness and of our loyalty to God. *
16, 17. What difficulty did a Christian mother face, and what helped her to uphold the arrangement for disfellowshipping unrepentant wrongdoers?
16 Consider the experience of a sister whose adult son at one time had love for Jehovah. Later in life, however, he unrepentantly chose to practice lawlessness. Hence, he was disfellowshipped from the congregation. Our sister loved Jehovah, but she also loved her son and found it extremely difficult to apply the Scriptural command to avoid associating with him.
17 What advice would you have given this sister? An elder helped her to realize that Jehovah understood the pain she felt. The brother invited her to think about the pain Jehovah must have experienced when some of his angelic sons rebelled. The elder reasoned with her that even though Jehovah knows how painful such a circumstance can be, he requires that unrepentant sinners be disfellowshipped. She took the reminders to heart and loyally upheld the disfellowshipping arrangement. * Such loyalty makes Jehovah’s heart glad.—Prov. 27:11.
18, 19. (a) Cutting off contact with a practicer of lawlessness gives evidence of our hatred for what? (b) What may result when we are loyal to God and his arrangement?
18 If you face a similar situation, please remember that Jehovah sympathizes with you. By cutting off contact with the disfellowshipped or disassociated one, you are showing that you hate the attitudes and actions that led to that outcome. However, you are also showing that you love the wrongdoer enough to do what is best for him or her. Your loyalty to Jehovah may increase the likelihood that the disciplined one will repent and return to Jehovah.
19 One individual who was disfellowshipped and was later reinstated wrote: “I am happy that Jehovah loves his people enough to see that his organization is kept clean. What may seem harsh to outsiders is both necessary and really a loving thing to do.” Do you think that this person would have been helped to come to such a conclusion had members of the congregation, including her family, maintained regular contact with her while she was disfellowshipped? Our supporting the Scriptural arrangement of disfellowshipping gives evidence that we love righteousness and recognize Jehovah’s right to set standards of conduct.
“Hate What Is Bad”
20, 21. Why is it important to learn to hate lawlessness?
20 “Keep your senses, be watchful,” warns the apostle Peter. Why? Because “your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Pet. 5:8) Will that someone be you? Much depends on how well you learn to hate lawlessness.
21 Developing a hatred for what is bad is not easy. We are born in sin, and we live in a world that caters to fleshly desires. (1 John 2:15-17) By imitating Jesus Christ and developing deep love for Jehovah God, however, we can succeed in cultivating hatred for lawlessness. Let us be determined to “hate what is bad,” fully confident that Jehovah “is guarding . . . his loyal ones; out of the hand of the wicked ones he delivers them.”—Ps. 97:10.
^ par. 15 For a detailed discussion of this subject, see the September 15, 1981, issue of The Watchtower, pages 26-31.
How Would You Answer?
• What will help us to examine our attitude toward alcoholic beverages?
• What protective measures can we take against occult practices?
• Why is pornography dangerous?
• How do we display hatred for lawlessness when someone we love is disfellowshipped?
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If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, what should you consider?
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Beware of satanic influence in entertainment
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A viewer of pornography nurtures love for what?