A Better Kingdom

Just a few more thoughts on the following passage and then I will move on 😊

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness”

This is a good thing. Think about the implications of a God who delighted in wickedness…that’s not the kind of God we want and I am grateful to serve a God who both confronts and offers freedom from the wickedness we find in ourselves.

“Evil may not dwell with you”

God is building and will finally establish a kingdom in which there is no sin. Right now, we live in a world where evil does dwell…it’s brought pain, sickness, death, rape, abuse, broken relationships, holocausts, genocide, and wars, just to name a few things- and many of the worst of these evils, at their core, are what we find in all of us, pride, selfishness, self-idolatry, lust for power and pleasure and control. If God winked at sin, even the “small” sins within us that we don’t find so bad, and let it dwell with him and be in his kingdom that he is building, then what we have now here on earth would be our final hope.

“The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;”

The very nature of the sin in us, will always buck against God, His authority, His sufficiency, and His good design. The boast in us; the part of us that says, I want my way, I am good enough, God can’t say that, God isn’t good, God isn’t enough, look at the kingdom that I built, look at the identity I have, celebrate me, celebrate us, we can rule ourselves and bring about our own utopia in our own image, we know what will make us happy and whole, we know more than God…. these are all boasts that can’t stand before God. Here are some more boasts that might hit closer to home for some of us…look at the church I built, look at the ministry I have, look at the “high calling” of leadership I have, look at our superior philosophy of ministry, we are better than those Charismatics, Anglicans, Arminians, megachurch people over there, our church is the only one who gets it truly right, look at the kingdom we are building here at _______________________ (insert your churches name, your seminary, your denomination, your theological distinctives, your political distinctives, your group, your tribe). These are other sorts of boasts that God intends to be rid of as well. In God’s kingdom, unity amongst his people will be perfected, because what we will boast in is Jesus and Jesus alone; our King. So rid yourself of your boast that isn’t in Christ alone, because it cannot stand before God’s eyes.

You hate all evildoers

God hates all evildoers. We should come away from this passage realizing that the sin in us is serious. That God hates it. I don’t want to soften this fact. When you read this, it should make you pause. Some have been taught that God’s love means he winks at sin, this passage is meant to make you stop and contend with a God who uses very strong language for how he feels about sin.

However, this passage makes even those of us who understand that God takes sin seriously, uncomfortable, because it doesn’t just say, “God’s hates sin,” it says, “God hates the sinner.” I don’t have any brilliant explanations for this and how this fits into passages that clearly states God love for sinners, but as I was wrestling with this verse I continually kept being reminded that just below this statement of God’s hate, God saw fit to speak of his abundant steadfast love. My conclusion at this point is this; God is complex and multifaceted. He hates and he loves; and his love and hate do not work against each other and are not separated from each other.

Our God is not to be compartmentalized or cornered into a box; “you either have to love sinners or hate sinners, you can’t have it both ways!” And yet we as complex humans who have been sinned against greatly by those we love can understand the complexity of emotions that can course through our veins for those individuals- anger and grief, love and hate, desire for reconciliation and closeness and desire to run away and separate ourselves from those who have hurt us. I am not comparing the quality or morality of our love or hatred with God’s, I am only trying to help us understand that if we, finite and created human beings have capacity for complex, multidimensional, and often seemingly contradictory emotion and disposition, how much greater capacity does our infinite God have for complexity of emotion and disposition towards his created beings.

Furthermore, we cannot compartmentalize the different parts of God as if they do not interact with one another. We do this a lot in our systematic theologies. (I am not against systematizing theology; we only need to be aware of its weaknesses and acknowledge them where we see them.) When we systematize God, the unintended affect is that we depersonalize him by chopping him up into little bits of unconnected information. God is holy. God is love. God is wrathful. God is just. God is unchangeable. But God is not all these things separately, he is all these things together. He is a person, complex, nuanced, and relational and not to be chopped up into bits of information to simply study and analyze.

Instead of revealing himself through a systematic theology (which is how he could have done it), he reveals himself and his plans through stories, prayers, poems, songs, saying, letters, records of how he has interacted with specific humans being and nations throughout the course of history, and then ultimately through Jesus.

My point is this, Psalm 5 is given to us, and it reveals both God’s hate and his love and it is significant that God puts these two together. We cannot look at these two characteristics of God separately or pit them against each other as if God is a bi-polar schizophrenic.  We must see them together, we must see how his hatred for sin is a function of his love and how his love requires him to hate sin and to ultimately reject, and in effect, hate the sinner who insist on their sin remaining, and who insists on their own kingdom over-against the kingdom of love and righteousness that God is building.

You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the blood-thirsty and deceitful man.

God tells us the truth. The Devil is a liar (John 8:44). The first temptation by the devil was worked through a lie and deception. The very sin nature in us was planted by a lie about God and his good intentions towards us. Lies cannot live in God’s kingdom, lies about God and about people bring about injustice and in God’s kingdom there will be perfect justice. Injustice that is allowed to remain inevitably brings about bloodshed and violence. Lies, deceit, and bloodshed go together, and God is building a kingdom of truth, unity, justice, and peace because he loves. Those who insist on following the lies of Satan cannot be a part of God’s kingdom and will be destroyed along with the kingdom of lies that Satan has and is building in this world.

I have wrestled a long time with how to end this post. I think I will simply leave you with God’s call to his people who had chosen to live in their wickedness instead of following God’s better way for them.

He says through the prophet Ezekiel,

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ez. 33:11)

And again,

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so, turn, and live.”

(Ezekiel 18:23,32)

God in his love desires that we turn from our sin, to Him, and the kingdom He is building. So, I invite you to turn, find forgiveness and freedom from the sin that enslaves you and the kingdom of darkness that Satan is building, and be transferred into the kingdom of Jesus, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13,14).

Through Love (Psalm 5:7a)

3O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple

In verse 3-6 we saw David identifying with the wicked man. He was someone who needed to bring a sacrifice before the Lord because God does not delight in wickedness. He comes before God with a sacrifice because he understands his sin. But then, in verse 7, we see David does make a contrast. This contrast is not one of his own righteousness vs. the unrighteousness of the wicked, which is how I usually hear a Psalm like this interpreted, but rather he is contrasting the position he finds himself in vs. the position that the evildoer should be in.

In verses 4-5 David mentions several times how the evildoer is kept from being with God and dwelling with him, “evil may not dwell with you.The boastful shall not stand before your eyes.” But now jump down to verse 7 and David says, “But I…will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple…” an evildoer dwelling with God! Somehow David, a sinful man IS entering God’s house! He is contrasting the position he should be in; estrangement from God- with the position he is actually in now; freedom and ability to enter God’s house and presence. What allows David, a wicked man to enter the house of God? He answers this question in verse 7 “Through the abundance of your steadfast love.”

Once again, I will point out. David doesn’t come to God in his own righteousness, he doesn’t come to God by contrasting his own righteousness with that of the wicked man and upon the grounds of his own goodness claims he is allowed to enter the presence of God. He knows that the basis of his coming to God is God’s mercy and love upon him. It is an abundant love…He knows he needs a lot of it…And a steadfast love. A love that remains constant despite David’s ups and downs in life. And David had many ups and downs.

To sum up, David comes to God, identifying his sin, bringing a sacrifice, and reveling in the great abundant, steadfast love that God has towards sinners like him. God accepted David because he is a God of love and mercy who desires that the wicked turn from their sin and come to him- and that is what David did.

We the wicked, the ones who cannot dwell with God, find ourselves in a strange place…the presence of a Father who loves us?

Hebrews 10 says,

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Ephesians 2 says,

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I John 4 says,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God loves. The very hatred God has for sin that we see in Psalm 5 comes out of his love for humanity. When you look around you and see the results that sin has had on our world, both in the damage its done to our fellow humans and the estrangement its caused between man and God, it would be difficult to come to the conclusion that love would let sin and evil remain. Rather, love works towards a kingdom in which sin cannot dwell and that is the ends towards which God is working. Even in his hatred for sin, we see God’s love working and motivating him to come and take that sin upon himself, we see him conquering sin and the death that it brings. We see him working towards the redemption of the cursed creation and the reconciliation of all things to himself. All of this because God loves.

In my own struggle against sin and the wickedness I find in my own heart, there has been nothing so powerful in my fight, as the thought of God’s love for me. God’s love assures me my sin has been taken and conquered by Jesus’ death. God’s love assures me my fight has been won for me. God’s love welcomes me into his presence with confidence not shame, and these are the wonderful truths that turn my heart again and again from my sin and towards my Father who draws and welcomes me, through the abundance of his steadfast love, into his house, his presence, his kingdom.

I invite you too…through the abundance of God’s steadfast love, so powerfully given and displayed to us through Jesus, to turn from your sin to this God who loves you.