“26 A righteous man is careful in dealing with his neighbor, but the ways of the wicked lead them astray. 28 There is life in the path of righteousness, but another path leads to death.” Proverbs 12:26; 28 CSB. “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday. But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble.” Proverbs 4:18-19.
God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden and since that moment God’s world has contained conflicting foundations of morality, and those foundations are righteousness and evil. Jesus referred to these foundations in His parable found in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!” Generally speaking there is a discussion among us what defines righteousness and what defines evil. However, when we search the pages of Holy Writ the answer is quite clear to everyone sitting at the table. The real issue is not the Word of God, but how broken humanity chooses to view morality. There is but one way, really, which is spoken of in the Word.
Our real problem, therefore, is not the Word of God, but rather the heart of man. Personally, I find it tragically amusing that so many who like to refer to themselves as Christians truly do not wish to follow the words of the Christ but rather wish to redefine His words to meet their own standards. God has placed the bar of righteousness rather high and He DOES EXPECT His followers to take up that Cross. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27.
You may notice that Jesus does not mince words here. Yes, He uses a very strong word, “hate” and we must NOT attempt to water down His terminology. If we read Luke correctly, we will find that many people standing in the crowds when Jesus taught were not actually following Him. They were curious, but were not learning from Him. Like many who are members of the local church today, they were present for personal benefits. They may attend all sorts of functions, but are not Followers of the Christ. There is a difference between attending and being a Believer. Unfortunately there are many ‘Christians’ and most likely fewer Followers of the Christ.
Jesus gives us two qualifications for being one of His Disciples. If one is to be a Follower there must be willingness to exchange personal preferences: family and self for the servitude of the Christ. He MUST BECOME the First Love. Jesus taught His disciples to love their enemies rather than hating them, “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” Luke 6:27-31. His use of “hate” is relative and not an absolute sense. Paul writes these words, “From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
This is NOT rocket science. This is biblical truth at its core. The difficulty, therefore, is with us and whether or not we choose to follow the Christ. No one can live life now without consequences later. There are consequences for everything done. The issue is whether or not one chooses to follow the Way of the Cross or the way of wickedness. But let the Bible be very clear here: “Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15.
Jesus is Lord.