Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)
Three Point Life Sermon
Many nuggets in scripture are designed for a simple pattern of learning. The scripture divisions are always interesting, and there is nothing to indicate how and why Robert Stephanus (1551) chose to divide the New Testament as he did. Chapters and verses have made it easier to study the Bible. Often a single verse will present a basic lesson on Christian living. It is much easier when it becomes a three-point sermon. Three things are noted in the ninth verse of Romans 12: real love, abhorring, and clinging. Living by these principles (commands) will change the heart to be devoted to the will of the Father.
Love is the basis of human relationships. There are many definitions of love expressed in many different ways. The Greek language effectively divided the word into concrete ideas to discern the correct meaning. In the English language, the same word is used for many opposite ideas of what love is. A man can be in love with his wife and love her apple pie, but those two loves are supposed to be different from one another. The love Paul writes about in Romans 12:9 is the Greek, ‘AGAPE.’ This type of love differs from the ‘PHILEO’ love, similar to the English word for ‘friendship.’ A Christian’s love for others is the spirit of goodwill toward all mankind. Paul explains this kind of love must be sincere and honest love.
It is easy to love in a spirit of hypocrisy. Showing love or telling someone of their love can be couched within a heart of mistrust and hatred. The smile on the outside can mask the hatred on the inside. Love must be complete. Words do not suffice when love is expressed. Action rather than words best define love. Jesus said He loved the word, but until He gave His life on the cross, He had not expressed that divine love. God loved the world and showed His love by sending His Son. How can the love from a child of God be any less? Love should not be pretended to or unfeigned.
The second point is the appeal to abhor or hate what is evil. That is simple. There is little to unpack from the message. If something is evil – hate it, despise it, run away from it, and consider it vile. Abhorring something is not disliking something. To abhor a thing is to look at it with complete disgust and to be repulsed by it. There are things in life that, by their nature, are detestable. Evil is to be considered something that is not a laughing matter; it is not acceptable even if approved by society, or ‘just the way the world turns’ kind of thing. Evil is evil and should be abhorred immensely. Any middle ground of evil is the broad way of falsehood.
In response to evil, the Christian must hold tightly to that which is good. Hating one thing and loving intensely something else is how responsive the heart must be to putting wickedness out of the spirit and embracing all that is righteous. Clinging to something is to embrace it with a tight hold. The Greek word comes from the idea of glue or sticking to something. When the heart clings to all that is good, love will be without pretense, and evil will find its place on the dung heap. Goodness will rule the heart. All that the eye can see is the goodness of a thing.
It must be noted the only way to love without hypocrisy, abhor evil and cling to that which is good is to know how to affect these attributes in the heart. Love is defined by how God defines love. Evil is determined by the mind of God. Righteousness and goodness can only come from the Holy Spirit. Loved defined by the world fails. The world calls evil good and good evil and cannot be trusted. When the child of God seeks the word of God in his life, he will find the answers to love, evil, and what is good. Then, and only then, can he be found pleasing to the Father. Do you need a life formula? Have sincere love, run away from evil, and embrace goodness with all your might.