God’s Love Is Tempered In Holiness
1 I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life-
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;
I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
Almighty God is a loving God, full of mercy and grace. He showers all of us – (unrepentant) sinners and saints alike – with mercies that renew every morning. He shines the sun on all of us, and allows the rain to fall for all of us. God woos us with His kindness, and declares His character through His creation.
God also is a holy judge. He cannot stand sin in His presence. He has been on task, calling all of us to repentance with His love. But there comes a time when, after we have been continually wooed by His goodness and mercy, that He will instead give us His justice.
David greatly desired to know God’s character, and to participate in it. He recognized the holiness of God – the complete and total absence of wrongdoing in God’s character – as something that was important to God, and important to him. David recognized the need for personal holiness – a separation from sin and a separation to God. David greatly desired to live a blameless life before God. In the Psalms, many which were written by him, including Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, he declares:
1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
David recognizes that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No one but Jesus Christ ever lived a perfect, sinless life on Earth. David greatly desired to live in a way that shunned sin, and embraced holiness, in light of his fallen nature.
David sought to shield his eyes from evil. He did not desire to look upon anything vile. The eyes, for most people, contribute a significant portion of all stimuli. Men, in particular, are wired to react to what they see. David purposed in his heart to keep his eyes from intentionally dwelling upon wickedness.
In Western culture today, the focus of advertising on television and the internet has a tendency to focus on sexual immorality. And that is because sex sells. The ironic aspect of this is that it is culture that both bombards men day in and day out with messages of promiscuity and satisfaction in lewdness and unfaithfulness and vilifies him if he consumes their product. Once a man has taken the bait, and partakes of this “eye candy” and the forbidden fruit, the very culture that baits him with it are the very first people to turn on him, call him vile and degenerate, shun him, and destroy his good name.
David recognized this danger, and did his very best to keep his eyes from intentionally wandering towards that which would cause him difficulty. It should be noted that the one time he failed, when he looked upon Bathsheba, he sinned mightily and paid a most dear price for it.
The desire for personal purity helped David to hate what faithless people do. They wallow in their own sin, reject the law of Almighty God, and revel in their wanton disobedience to the One who created them and calls them back to Himself. David does not hate the wicked, but hates what the wicked do.
It is important to make the distinction between hating someone and hating their actions. It is especially important to make this distinction, for evil people will try to manipulate others by calling their own aversion to holiness and your disagreement with their thoughts, words and deeds as somehow being related to their personal identity and not to their personal ideology. Unless we, as a culture, can separate what a person does from who a person is, we will be sucked into a violent maelstrom that threatens to pigeonhole everyone into accepting what is vile in order to avoid being perceived (and therefore accused in the public arena) as being racist, bigoted, and hateful people.
Somehow, people in their quest to be free from the responsibility that comes as a result of being created by God, even and especially to be His image-bearers, have lost their personal identity and replaced it with personal ideology. In other words, you can no longer disagree with someone based on their thoughts and words without somehow casting an aspersion on their race or heritage. The evil person tries to insist that the two are inextricably intertwined, thus forcing a person to accept their ideas in order to accept them as people, for to reject their ideas, in their mind, is to reject them and their value as human beings.
David desires to have nothing to do with evil. He goes to great lengths to prevent its influence and actions in his life. He so greatly desires this removal from evil, he wants to place the perverseness of people as far as he can from his heart. David loves people, and was called by God to be a shepherd over them as king by the prophet Samuel. Yet David, in his role as king and judge, would not permit evil to flourish under his watch.
We too are to rid ourselves of the perverse things that so easily entangles us in sin. There should be an active desire, fueled by the Holy Spirit, and guided by the word of the Living God, to separate ourselves from what is evil in the sight of God and separate ourselves to what is good in the sight of God. Until we do this, we are, in effect, actively courting that which is offensive to a holy, sinless, and perfect God. For people who claim to know God and claim to be His friends, this should never happen. What true friend actively goes out of their way to cause others intentional pain and trouble apart from trying to strain the relationship? But thanks be to God, for He is full of grace, mercy, and love!
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: While seeking the grace and mercy of God, do I also in the same measure seek His holiness in personal practice?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are a holy and just God. You cannot look upon sin, yet You continually shower Your goodness and provision upon all who live. Father, please help me to understand the depths of Your holiness, so that I can better understand why You hate sin so much. Give me a hatred of my own sin, and help me to see it as You do. Prepare my heart to do whatever is necessary to honor You, and to throw off the stench of my sin. Help me to see it as I would rotting, decaying garbage. I praise You, O God, for you have taken my sin from me and cloaked me with the righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to keep His cloak of righteousness from being stained by my moral failings. Help me to bear up under Your trials as my sanctification prepares me to walk in holiness before You. Help me to remember that You are a just judge, and that You will not tolerate willful sin from me anymore. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.