We want to continue on this subject, that is the most dangerous thing in our lives and that which is destroying us - sin, much worse than sickness. We have been looking at that in the last few studies and we want to go a bit further on the issue.
In this study we want to look at another sin that Jesus spoke about, which is not considered a sin by a lot of people in the world, and even by a lot of believers. In our last three studies, if you remember, we looked at the sins that Jesus hated the most. We saw three of them so far: hypocrisy, pride, and selfishness. Now, in the world hypocrisy is not hated, pride is not hated, and selfishness is not hated. Everybody assumes that it is not serious. A man pretends, so what. Or a man is proud or selfish; everybody is like that, we say. So long as you keep the Ten Commandments, the external good life, you are okay. Unfortunately a lot of believers think like that too.
As a result the lives of many believers are only external. There is nothing inward. They are saved only from the sins which are external, the things that people could be saved from, even under the law, before Jesus came. Under the law, people were saved from murder and adultery by the Ten Commandments. But by the law they couldn't be saved from inward sin, the really serious sins that are destroying us. In the first page of the New Testament, as we have seen already, we read in Matthew 1:21, that Jesus means saviour, a person who will save you from your sins. And so, as I said before, if you don't understand what sin is, we will never understand what has Jesus come to save us from. He has come to save us from sin. But what is sin? Now we see it a little more clearly. Sin is pretending -being a hypocrite; He has come to save us from that. Sin is pride; Jesus has come to save us from every type of pride, physical pride, spiritual pride, intellectual pride. He has come to save us from selfishness - from thinking just about ourselves.
In this study I want to speak to you about hatred. A lot of people do not think of hatred as sin. The New Testament says that "He who hates his brother is a murderer" (1 John. 3:15). It is as serious as that. If you hate a person, it is equivalent to murdering him. Maybe you don't have the opportunity to murder him. Maybe you are afraid that if you murder him you will get caught. You wouldn't mind somebody else killing him or his having some misfortune. That is how you know whether you hate a person or not. Sometimes we may say, 'Well I don't hate anybody really.' But just ask yourself this: Somebody who has done some harm to you, or to your family, maybe some relative has cheated you, maybe somebody has done some real harm to you, maybe somebody ruined your reputation, or pushed you down in your job, maybe your boss, or landlord, or someone who has done some harm to you, and you say, 'Yeah I have forgiven him.' But when you hear that some calamity happened to him, do you feel a little happy? If you feel happy, you know what that shows? That shows that you really hate him. You will never be happy when a calamity comes on your son or daughter, or someone you love. You can never be happy when a calamity or accident, or misfortune comes to somebody you love.
Why are you happy when it happens to that person whom you say you have forgiven? No, it really proves that you hate him. Or, it could be another way. When you hear that something good happened to that man, that he got blessed in some way, got a promotion or something wonderful happened to him, and you feel a bit unhappy, what does that show? That also shows that you really hate that person. Would you be unhappy if something good happened to your son or daughter? If your son came first in the class, would you be unhappy? You would be unhappy if somebody else's son comes first in the class. See when we are unhappy at the blessing or good fortune or some happiness that comes to another person, it show that you really don't love that person, you hate him. So you see hatred is pretty deeply entrenched in our hearts, and we fool ourselves by saying we don't have it. You say you are not bitter against a person, but the test is this: are you happy when something bad happens to him? Are you unhappy when something good happens to him? Then you are bitter. You might as well face up to it.
This is like a scan that the Bible gives of your heart. You know, in the hospital, nowadays, they give you a scan to take a picture of what is inside your body, which you cannot see. And when the doctor looks at the scan, he says, 'Listen, there is something wrong with you, there is a tumour there, there is a cancer there.' You may say, 'Well, I feel okay, I don't feel there is anything wrong.' Maybe you don't feel it, but here is a scan that shows that there is a tumour and you better remove it, whether you feel good or not. Otherwise it will kill you. I want to say to you that this is a scan of your heart's condition. When you are happy with somebody else's misfortune, the scan says you have a tumour. You better remove it. It is a tumour called bitterness, an unforgiving attitude. All these things are children of hatred. Hatred has many children: bitterness, jealousy, anger, these are all children that come out of the mother called hatred, and an unforgiving attitude. The manifestation is, as I said earlier, that you are happy when something bad happens to somebody else or you are unhappy when something good happens to somebody else. We must be sensitive. Jesus has come to save us from that.
You see God is love. The Bible says that again and again. If God is love, tell me the answer to this question. What is Satan? Even a child can answer that one. What is the opposite of love - Hatred? If God is full of love, what is Satan full of - Hatred? When you have hatred in your heart, how do you know that you have it? Well these children are being born through you: bitterness, jealousy, an unforgiving attitude. What does it prove? It proves that you are in fellowship with Satan whether you know it or not. These things are so deeply entrenched in us that it is impossible for us to be saved from it, unless Jesus saves us. Do you know that salvation from hatred is impossible? You can control your anger, you can control you bitterness and keep it inside. But that is just like being constipated. You have all that rubbish inside but it doesn't mean you are clean. What is the use of keeping the anger inside and not being cleansed? Or keeping the jealousy inside and saying, 'Well, I don't manifest it outwardly.' It is still there within. If the sickness is within, it will still kill you, even if there is no external symptom. And who knows whether it is within you or not? - You yourself. Nobody else may know whether it is within or not, but you know very well whether it is there within you or not.
That is why we have to be extremely careful, whenever we detect a wrong attitude towards somebody within. It is usually towards people who have harmed us in some way in the past. Jesus spoke about that man who caught another person by the throat, because he owed him a little bit of money, but he himself had been forgiven so much by the king. He didn't cleanse that wrong attitude in his heart and the result was that he finally ended up in jail having to pay back to the king that entire large amount that he owed. Jesus was teaching there to be careful about a little wrong attitude towards another person. Do you have an attitude where you are trying to catch somebody by the throat because you feel he owes you something? Yeah, be careful there. It is not a question of cutting off the fruit; it is a question of making the tree good. You know Jesus said make the tree good. Don't just cut off the fruit and put some good fruit hanging on the tree and fool people that you are a good person.
Remember what Jesus said: " things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man." (Matthew 15:18). What are the things that proceed from the heart - "evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.These are the things that defile a man." (Matthew 15:19-20). You have to cleanse your heart. In other words, the root of the disease, the root of bitterness, the root of jealousy, the root of an unforgiving attitude towards others, that is what needs to be cleansed, if you want to be pure. That is what Jesus has come to save us from. As I said, it is impossible to be free from it, but Jesus can do that for you. He has come to do what is humanly speaking impossible. He has come to save us from the sin of hatred.
First of all we need to confess: 'Lord I thought I had forgiven that person, I haven't really. I thought I had no hatred in my heart against people, but now I realize I do. I really want to be free. I want to partake of God's nature, which is full of love. I want to have my heart cleansed of every bit of hatred and all the children of hatred: bitterness, jealousy, everything. I want to have God's nature within: one of love, overflowing in goodness, desiring good, desiring the very best for other people.'
There is a verse in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." They will be satisfied. If you have a tremendous longing in your heart for the life of God within you, to have love and to be completely free from all hatred, you will find that God answers your prayer. It depends on your longing. It is not enough just to make a weak prayer, 'Yeah Lord I got a bit convicted today by what you said, yeah I know my attitude towards that person is not so good.' That is not enough. You won't be free. You will be free only if you have a tremendous longing to be free: 'Oh God this is an evil thing.' Just think, if you discovered you have aids or leprosy, how you would long to be free. You would go from one doctor to another, one hospital to another, desperate to be free. When you have that type of desperation to be free from the sin of hatred and all of its manifestations, Jesus will set you free.