Christ Hated Lawlessness—Do You?
“You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.”—HEBREWS 1:9.
1. Besides loving righteousness, what else is required of all true servants of Jehovah God?
JEHOVAH’S true servants love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30) They want to make Jehovah’s heart rejoice by keeping integrity. (Proverbs 27:11) To do that, not only must they love righteousness but they must also hate lawlessness. Their Exemplar, Jesus Christ, certainly did. Of him it was said: “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness.”—Hebrews 1:9.
2. What is included in lawlessness?
2 What is lawlessness? It is sin, as the apostle John showed when he wrote: “Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness, and so sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) A lawless person is “not restrained or controlled by law.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) Lawlessness includes all that is bad, wicked, immoral, corrupt, and dishonest. A look at the world shows us that lawlessness is rampant today as never before. There is no question that we live in the “critical times” that the apostle Paul foretold at 2 Timothy 3:1-5. In view of all this lawlessness, how fine it is that we are commanded to hate all badness! For instance, we are told: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” (Psalm 97:10) Likewise, we read: “Hate what is bad, and love what is good.”—Amos 5:15.
Three Kinds of Hatred
3-5. In what three ways is the word “hate” used in God’s Word?
3 What does it mean to hate? In God’s Word, “hate” is used in three distinct ways. There is the hatred motivated by malice and that seeks to harm its object. Christians must avoid this kind of hatred. It is the kind that prompted Cain to kill his righteous brother Abel. (1 John 3:12) This is also the kind of hatred that the religious leaders had for Jesus Christ.—Matthew 26:3, 4.
4 Further, the word “hate” is used in the Scriptures in the sense of loving less. For example, Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Clearly, Jesus simply meant loving these less than we love him. Jacob ‘hated Leah,’ but he actually loved her less than he did Rachel.—Genesis 29:30, 31.
5 Then there is the meaning of the word “hate” with which we are especially concerned here. It has the thought of having such an intense feeling of dislike for or strong aversion to someone or something that we avoid having anything to do with such a person or thing. In Psalm 139 this is spoken of as “a complete hatred.” There David said: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.”—Psalm 139:21, 22.
Why We Should Hate Lawlessness
6, 7. (a) Why, principally, should we hate lawlessness? (b) What is a second powerful reason to hate lawlessness?
6 Why should we hate lawlessness? One reason is so that we may have self-respect and a good conscience. Only in this way can we have a good relationship with our righteous, loving heavenly Father, Jehovah. David set a fine example in this regard, as can be seen by reading Psalm 26. For example, he said: “I have hated the congregation of evildoers, and with the wicked ones I do not sit.” (Psalm 26:5) Our love for God and righteousness should motivate us to have righteous indignation—yes, hatred—for all that is lawless from his standpoint, including the lawless acts of those who disobey and hate Jehovah. Furthermore, we should hate lawlessness because of the reproach that it brings upon God’s name.
7 Another reason why Jehovah’s people should hate lawlessness is that it is very dangerous and harmful. Sowing to the flesh, which means sowing lawlessness, will have what result? Paul warned: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.” (Galatians 6:7, 8) So we should want to have absolutely nothing to do with lawlessness. Truly, we need to hate all lawlessness for our own well-being and peace of mind.
Those Hating Lawlessness
8. Who has set the prime example in hating lawlessness, as shown by what scriptures?
8 In hating lawlessness, God sets the prime example for all intelligent creatures. He is righteously indignant at lawlessness, and his Word says: “There are six things that Jehovah does hate; yes, seven are things detestable to his soul: lofty eyes, a false tongue, and hands that are shedding innocent blood, a heart fabricating hurtful schemes, feet that are in a hurry to run to badness, a false witness that launches forth lies, and anyone sending forth contentions among brothers.” We also read: “The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad. Self-exaltation and pride and the bad way and the perverse mouth I have hated.” (Proverbs 6:16-19; 8:13) Moreover, we are told: “I, Jehovah, am loving justice, hating robbery along with unrighteousness.”—Isaiah 61:8.
9, 10. How did Jesus show that he hated lawlessness?
9 Jesus Christ imitated his Father in hating lawlessness. Thus, we read: “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.” (Hebrews 1:9) Jesus set an example for us in this kind of hatred. He showed his hatred of lawlessness by exposing those willfully practicing it—the false religious leaders. Repeatedly, he denounced them as hypocrites. (Matthew, chapter 23) On another occasion Jesus told them: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.” (John 8:44) Jesus showed his hatred for lawlessness even to the extent of using physical force, on two occasions cleansing the temple of greedy religious hypocrites.—Matthew 21:12, 13; John 2:13-17.
10 Jesus also showed his hatred of lawlessness and sin by keeping absolutely free from them. Therefore, he could well ask his opposers: “Who of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46) Jesus was “loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) Confirming this, Peter wrote that Jesus “committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth.”—1 Peter 2:22.
11. What Scriptural examples do we have of imperfect humans who hated lawlessness?
11 Jesus, though, was a perfect man. Do we have Scriptural examples of imperfect humans who truly hated lawlessness? Indeed we do! For example, Moses and his fellow Levites showed great hatred of idolatry by executing about 3,000 idolaters at Jehovah’s command. (Exodus 32:27, 28) Phinehas showed great hatred of lawlessness when he killed two fornicators with a lance.—Numbers 25:7, 8.
Expressing Hatred of Lawlessness
12. (a) How can we show our hatred of lawlessness? (b) What are some practical ways to avoid lawless thoughts?
12 Coming down to our time, how can we show our hatred of lawlessness? By controlling our thoughts, words, and actions. We need to cultivate the habit of thinking about upbuilding things when our minds are not occupied with work at hand. If we happen to lay awake at night, there may be an inclination to do some negative thinking, such as dwelling on grievances or indulging in sexual fantasies. Never allow room for such things, but get in the habit of engaging in beneficial thinking. For example, try to memorize scriptures, the nine happinesses, and the nine fruits of the spirit. (Matthew 5:3-12; Galatians 5:22, 23) Can you name the 12 apostles? Do you know the Ten Commandments? What are the seven congregations addressed in Revelation? Memorizing Kingdom songs also helps to keep our minds on things true, of serious concern, righteous, chaste, lovable, well spoken of, virtuous, and praiseworthy.—Philippians 4:8.
13. Hating lawlessness will cause us to hate what kind of speech?
13 Further, we show that we hate lawlessness by avoiding all unclean speech. Many worldly people take delight in telling and listening to dirty jokes, but Christians must not be inclined even to listen to them. Rather, we should walk away and avoid participating in any conversation that gravitates to such low levels. If unable to walk away, we can at least show by our facial expression that we hate such talk. We need to heed this fine counsel: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) We should not defile ourselves by speaking what is unclean or by listening to it.
14. What safeguard will hatred of lawlessness provide as to business practices and employment?
14 Our hatred of lawlessness must also be directed against all sinful practices. Hating lawlessness will help us to avoid the trap of compromising in this regard. Genuine Christians do not practice sin. (Compare 1 John 5:18.) For example, we must hate all dishonest business practices. Today, many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been put under pressure to do dishonest things for their employers but have refused to do so. Christians have even been willing to lose their jobs rather than do something that violates their Bible-trained conscience. Moreover, we also want to show our hatred of lawlessness by not violating traffic laws and by not cheating when we must pay taxes or customs duties.—Acts 23:1; Hebrews 13:18.
Hating Sexual Uncleanness
15. Creating humans with strong mating instincts served what fine purposes?
15 As Christians, we must particularly hate all uncleanness that involves sexual matters. By creating mankind with strong mating instincts, God served two fine purposes. He made certain that the human race would not die out, and he also made a most loving provision for happiness. Even people who are poor, illiterate, or disadvantaged in some other way can find great happiness in the marital relationship. However, Jehovah has set bounds within which this relationship may be enjoyed. These divinely stated limits must be respected.—Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4.
16. What should be our attitude toward sexually unclean entertainment and practices?
16 If we hate lawlessness, we will studiously avoid all sexually unclean practices and immoral entertainment. We will therefore avoid all morally questionable books, magazines, and newspapers. Likewise, if we hate lawlessness, we will not view any unclean visual presentations, whether on television, in motion pictures, or on the stage. If we find a program to be immoral, we should be moved to switch off the television set at once or should have the courage to leave the theater. Similarly, hating lawlessness will make us guard against all music that is passion-arousing in its lyrics or its tempo. We will not seek knowledge of immoral matters but will be ‘babes as to badness, yet full-grown in powers of understanding.’—1 Corinthians 14:20.
17. What counsel does Colossians 3:5 give that can help us to stay morally clean?
17 Most fittingly, we are counseled: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite.” (Colossians 3:5) There is no question that powerful measures are needed on our part if we are going to be determined to remain morally clean. Regarding the Greek verb rendered “deaden” at Colossians 3:5, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “It suggests that we are not simply to suppress or control evil acts and attitudes. We are to wipe them out, completely exterminate the old way of life. ‘Slay utterly’ may express its force. . . . Both the meaning of the verb and the force of the tense suggest a vigorous, painful act of personal determination.” We should therefore avoid pornography as though it were a dangerous, infectious, death-dealing disease, for that is what it is morally and spiritually. Christ expressed a similar thought when he said to get rid of a hand, a foot, or even an eye if it is causing us to stumble.—Mark 9:43-48.
Hating False Religion and Apostasy
18. How can we express our hatred for religious lawlessness?
18 Then, too, as Jesus showed his hatred for lawlessness by exposing hypocritical religionists, so today Jehovah’s Witnesses are showing their hatred for all hypocritical religious lawlessness. How? By distributing Bible literature that lays bare Babylon the Great for what she really is, a religious harlot. If we truly hate lawless religious hypocrisy, we will be forthright in exposing Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. We will do so for the sake of honesthearted people whom she has blinded and held in spiritual bondage. To the extent that we truly hate the lawlessness of Babylon the Great, to that extent we will be zealous in sharing in all the features of the Kingdom ministry.—Matthew 15:1-3, 7-9; Titus 2:13, 14; Revelation 18:1-5.
19. How should we view apostates, and why?
19 The obligation to hate lawlessness also applies to all activity by apostates. Our attitude toward apostates should be that of David, who declared: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.” (Psalm 139:21, 22) Modern-day apostates have made common cause with “the man of lawlessness,” the clergy of Christendom. (2 Thessalonians 2:3) As loyal Witnesses of Jehovah, we therefore have absolutely nothing in common with them. Being imperfect, our hearts could easily have a tendency toward being critical of our brothers. As individuals, those of “the faithful and discreet slave” are imperfect humans. (Matthew 24:45-47) But this class is faithful and discreet. Apostates capitalize on errors or seeming mistakes made by brothers who take the lead. Our safety lies in avoiding apostate propaganda as though it were poison, which in fact it is.—Romans 16:17, 18.
20, 21. How can reasons for hating lawlessness be summarized?
20 We have seen that the world is filled with lawlessness, which is synonymous with sin. It is not enough for us to love righteousness; we must also hate lawlessness. Some of those who have been disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation may have thought that they loved righteousness, but they did not sufficiently hate lawlessness. We have also seen why we should hate lawlessness. We cannot have a good conscience and self-respect unless we do. Furthermore, lawlessness means being disloyal to Jehovah God. And lawlessness causes us to reap very bitter fruitage—misery, corruption, and death.
21 We have also noted how we show that we hate lawlessness. We do so by having absolutely nothing to do with any kind of dishonesty, sexual immorality, or apostasy. Since we want to share in Jehovah’s vindication and desire to make his heart rejoice, we must not only love righteousness and keep busy in his service but also hate lawlessness, as did our Leader and Commander, Jesus Christ.
How Would You Answer?
□ How do the Scriptures use the word “hate”?
□ What are some good reasons for us to hate lawlessness?
□ What fine examples do we have of those who hated lawlessness?
□ How can we show our hatred for lawlessness?
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Jesus cleansed the temple because he hated lawlessness
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If we hate lawlessness, we will avoid sexually immoral entertainment