Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Evil Hates the Light

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God (John 3:19-21).

For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you (1 John 3:11-13).

Last week I received three emails from a person who did not reveal his name.  He was very critical of some writing I have done on the internet.  To give you a sense of the tone of the posts, note the following quote:

“Get a life, you homophobic moron. I hope you realize you will burn in hell for hiding behind God to promote hatred. You have, of course, heard of ‘Who watches the watchmen?’ Well, I’ll tell you who’s watching you: Every Jew killed at Auschwitz. Every gay man beaten to death in his own home. They all  died because of people like you. You are nothing but an idiotic Nazi (and probably homosexual yourself).”

Actually, the preceding quote was the only part of the emails I could use.  The rest constituted personal attacks (that I wear a toupee, I am fat, I have body odor, and other observations which can not be stated in polite company), all of which were given with copious portions of profanity and venom.

I am not overly concerned about the personal attacks, after all, I know I could stand to lose some weight, I know that the hair on top of my head is my own, I bathe every day (sometimes twice) and use deodorant.  But, the posts serve to show the truth of what our Lord said when he noted that “everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

Exposing sin will bring the hatred of the world upon ourselves.  As John said, we should not “marvel… if the world hates you.”  And we should not be surprised if the hatred of the world reveals itself in profane and objectionable ways.

I am very grateful that we are living in a time and place where our proclamation of the gospel is at least tolerated by the governing authorities.  In the first century, this was not always so.

For example, when Stephen exposed the hypocrisy of the Jews, we are told they, “cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:57-58).

When Paul cast out the spirit of divination that possessed the maiden at Philippi, he and Silas were persecuted for their action.  “Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.  And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely” (Acts 16:22-23).

Other examples could be given, but the preceding serves to establish the point.  We are fortunate that we live in a time where we are protected from such violence.

I would like for you to note the response of Paul and Silas to the persecution they suffered.  Though beaten and thrown into prison, they did not cease their proclamation of the gospel.  Through their steadfast example and preaching, the jailer in Philippi received the gospel unto the salvation of both himself and his house.  Paul’s efforts in proclaiming the gospel in the face of such opposition benefited him later in his ministry, as the church there sent aid to him while he was imprisoned in Rome (cf. Philippians 1:14-ff).  The church in Philippi was truly a comfort to him in his distress.

The example of Paul and Silas instructs us.  In the face of opposition, it is important for us to remain steadfast in the proclamation of the gospel of Christ.  We must not allow the barbs of men to keep us from our task of convicting the world of sin.  When we do, there will be times when we will be persecuted.  It may be the silly barbs sent to me this past week, or it may be the serious dangers that threatened the Christians of the first century.  This is our lot as “children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).  In the face of such opposition, we must remain steadfast.

Our Lord promised eternal protection in the face of opposition.  An example of this is found in his letter to the persecuted church at Smyrna.  “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:10-11).

Let’s be about our Lord’s business of preaching the gospel, and let Him worry about the consequences.