When our children are very little, our instructions are given quickly and with very little surrounding instruction. We may say “don’t touch the stove, you will burn yourself”. We don’t feel the need to go into an in depth explanation why they will burn themselves. But as they grow up, the instruction that they receive will have additional reason and information.
As my children get older, I find myself pausing and saying “now don’t misunderstand me”. This is because sometimes I realize that my children can hear something I say and draw the wrong conclusions. I believe this is an excellent illustration for God and His instruction.
God has given simple-to-understand instructions. One example would be the command to not murder (Ex 20:13,Matt 5:21). Now we can certainly turn to the Bible and learn some surrounding reasons why we shouldn’t murder, but that is one command from God that is very simple and clear cut.
But God still doesn’t want us to misunderstand. Just because we don’t murder someone doesn’t necessarily mean we are pleasing Him. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus gives some extra information so we don’t misunderstand. “You have heard it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgement” (Matt 5:21-22).
As we can see, hate is the heart condition that causes murder. If I harbor hate for people in my heart, I stand in the judgement of God just like the one who committed the murder.
Similarly, most people understand that adultery is wrong. I don’t know of too many people who advocate for it. But some people misunderstand into thinking that if they don’t cheat on their spouse they are an exemplary husband or wife. Jesus goes on in that same sermon to say, “You have heard it was said to those of old, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery in his heart” (Matt 5:27-28).
Many people sit and fantasize about being with another person besides their spouse. This is the same heart problem that the person who committed adultery has. In the exact same way, a single person may think they are doing great because they have chosen to wait until marriage. All the while destroying their heart with lust through pornography. (Parents, are you checking your kids phones?)
Psalm 1:1 Says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;” A six year old illustrated this verse like this. You have a bank robber. He is the one who walks in the counsel of the ungodly. Then you have the friend of the bank robber that thinks his life of crime is cool. He is the one who stands in the way of sinners. Then you have the guy at home that thinks about how cool it would be to rob a bank. All three of these people are wrong. You can plug any sin in to that illustration and arrive at the same conclusion.
Now we also don’t want to misunderstand that there is an obvious levels of evil involved here. We can easily see that it is worse to commit the crime than to think about the crime. But God wants us to realize that we are going to be judged by Him according to our hearts too. People who are consumed by lust need to remove that evil from their mind. People who are consumed with hate need to get that out of their mind. People who want to get close to evil without participating need to get rid of that. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Micah 2:1 has an indictment on the corrupt people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He speaks of those who “devise iniquity in their bed”. These people, in the privacy of their own homes think about evil things. Then he says “at morning light they practice it”.
The final line of the first verse is a key for our point. It says, “because it is in his power to do it”. Just because you haven’t murdered, stolen, or committed adultery doesn’t necessarily mean you wouldn’t if you had the opportunity and power to do so. I don’t know how many politicians I have heard through the years that have declared “abortion is murder”, only to find out they got some lady pregnant and convinced her to have an abortion.
This is serious folks. People who are concerned with righteousness need to make moves to purge out the evil. The one who has the heart disease of sin has no hope for heaven. We need to “hate evil and love good” (Amos 5:6).
Don’t misunderstand. God still loves you. Sins we commit and sins of the heart separate us from God. But the gospel of His Son can bring you back in fellowship with Him. There is forgiveness available to everyone if we will simply do what He says. I would love to share that message of redemption with all who would want to hear.