Psalm 119:103-104 reads, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”
Look around you. Scroll through your social media feed. Listen to the music on the radio. Watch the latest Hollywood movie (if you dare). What is the one idea that will keep coming to the fore? Love. The world, well, loves the idea of love. Books about love stories are published. Songs about love are sung. Poems about love are penned. That’s all fine so far as it goes—I like a tasteful love story as much as anyone. But it goes beyond that. Love has become something more than meets the eye. Love is trumpeted as that final, ultimate value that is to define all else.
But some things aren’t looking so lovely.
In 2015, when the Supreme Court rebelled against the truth that marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman, then President Barack Obama heralded the decision as a victory for love: “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins.” The phrase “Love Wins” has come to mean that no distinctions—whether they be between male and female, boy and girl, traditional marriage or homosexuality—can last. Love will swallow everything up in one big amorphous blob of uninspiring sentimentality.
In 1967 the Beatles released a song that has become the theme of modern day American thought: “All You Need Is Love.” What is keeping those crazy Christians from giving up on their quest to end abortion? A lack of love, of course. Why can’t people just break free from their bondage to six thousand years of traditional marriage? Simple: not enough love. Why won’t those bigots ignore those pesky distinctions between male and female and lovingly reject all traditional pronouns as oppressive? Well, maybe like the Grinch, their hearts are just two sizes too small.
To the world, love means that all things are acceptable and all behaviors are to be embraced. There is no place for passionate aversion to that which is evil in a society where a distorted understanding of “love” is the ultimate value. Love, by worldly standards, means that you refuse to cast judgment on anyone or anything. The result is a society of vapid people, destitute of passion for anything except being passionless. Man has become a shell of what he was meant to be. He screams love, justice, and strength on the outside, but inside he is lacking in the true passion which causes a man to both love with intense fury and hate with equal vehemence.
The Beatles got it wrong. Love is not all you need. Hatred is also needed. To put it another way, love of the good cannot exist without hatred of evil. The fear of the Lord, the Bible says, is hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13). The psalmist sings that understanding God’s holy law causes him to hate every false way (Psalm 119:104). How can that be? How can understanding God’s law—the law of a God who is love (1 John 4:8)—lead a man to hate? It is precisely because God’s law draws distinctions between the path to blessing and the path to cursing. The student of God’s word understands where worldly love leads: straight to hell. And he hates sin because it destroys souls, families, and societies. All is not well in the world. Yes, there is clear good to be embraced, but there is also clear evil to be exposed (Ephesians 5:11). Understanding God’s precepts causes a man or woman to be filled with godly passions that would cause a person to press into the kingdom of God with urgency and ardor.
The law of God is sweeter than honey to the saint’s mouth because it is good. The strength of the metaphor lies in the fact that not all things are good, not all things are sweet. All things are not to be loved. We are to delight in God’s commandments (Psalm 119:47), but we are to despise vain thoughts (Psalm 119:113). We are to cherish God’s proven word (Psalm 119:140), but we are to abhor lying (Psalm 119:163). We are to love God’s law (Psalm 119:97), but we are to hate every false way (Psalm 119:104). There is no place for listlessness in Christianity. Jesus Christ came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). The Gospel of Christ causes a person to come alive to the full panoply of godly passions. The world rejects the new man that is created in Christ. The alternative is a passive, insipid man. A man who is neither stirred up to deep love for good things—righteousness, honor, purity—nor moved to hatred against sin and wickedness. He is the new man of the world: languid, leaden, lukewarm.
In the end, love does win. But it is not the love presented by the world. It is the love of God found in Jesus Christ. The love of the Triune God that orchestrated redemption for lost sinners. The love that was poured into your heart—if you are trusting in Christ—when the Holy Spirit was given to you. The love of Christ that compels Christians to hate sin and the destruction it brings, and yet causes them to love even their enemies, pleading with them to be reconciled to the God of love.