A Principle Many Need To Relearn
When God gave the commandments to Israel, He first told them to not to worship other gods. He explained that He was a jealous God who would surely punished all those who gave homage to idols. (Ex. 20:1-6) When the nation of Israel was given over to idolatry God gave them the national death penalty. He disavowed, dispossessed and destroyed them.
To keep this ultimate penalty from coming on the whole people, God provided that anyone who introduced such evil, even secretly and privately, should be condemned. Thus the nation would not be corrupted and could maintain its purity. Deut. 13:6-11 "If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. 9 But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you." God knew that everyone who perverted the people by leading them into false ways had a mother, a father, a brother and a friend. But those relationships were not to give cover to evil. You had to love God and right even more than you loved your closest friends and relatives.
This may seem like a harsh standard, but it was the standard of God. This is contrary to human nature (man's sinful will). Proof of this is seen in the reaction of numerous people to the evil done by their relatives. Under the heading of "All in the Family," the Wall Street Journal's online service, OpinionJournal.com, published the following outrageous statements (web address for all these at the end of article - wjh):
"Sheikh Ahmad spoke fondly of his older brother, describing him as a simple, deeply religious man with 'a very soft heart' who 'hates injustice.'"--CNN, quoting Osama bin Laden's half-brother. "The real John Walker is a thoughtful, gentle, kind, committed Muslim whose strength of faith has impressed everyone who knows him."--Marin Mujahid, John Walker Lindh's cousin Musa Abdun Nur, himself a convert to Islam, quoted in the New York Times.
"I believe in Andrea. She is the kindest, sweetest, gentlest person I've ever met."--Andrea Yates's husband, Russell, quoted by the Associated Press.
Here is defense of evil based on personal bias. The murderer of thousands is a soft hearted, religious hater of evil. The spoiled sympathizer and willing adherent of the great murderer is impressive in his kindness, gentleness and strong faith. The murderer of her own five children is kind, sweet and gentle, having more of these qualities than anyone that the father of those same murdered children knows. (He must not know many people.)
When we hear these outrages we just shake our heads, gag, or call these people liars. This is not just the reaction of the devout, but even of a worldly newspaper that compiled these things to show the similarities in these horrifying, scandalous and offenses statements. It is pure evil naked enough for the world to see.
But often we see the same sentiments (and these are sentimental, not reasonable defenses) expressed to a lesser degree to cover other evils closer to home. Parents won't condemn their children who are caught in sin. They defend them and accuse those who expose the sin and call for repentance. Preachers condemn error, unless it is found in their family or lifelong friends. Then they will defend fellowship with them in their destructive heresies and make charges against those who expose the sin and mark the false teacher so that the brethren can be warned.
Yet God said in Deut. 13 to not only to "not listen" to the one closest to your heart if they do evil, but He also further said not to "pity," "spare" or "conceal" them. Then when capital punishment was executed upon them, the dear one was to be the first to stone them. Of course now we don't have to literally do that (thus our excuses are even flimsier and have less merit than Israel's might have), but we still must rebuke and exposes the error. But many refuse even to acknowledge the clear error.
Some just cannot bring themselves to live up to the standard that God set forth. Their love of men who are dear to them (friends, family, brethren) who are caught in evil overwhelms their faithfulness to God. "But what about unconditional love?" they whine. "Don't we love these dear ones too much to do this?" Shouldn't we rather be concerned with unconditional faithfulness to God? "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." (Mark 10:37,38)
The problem with defending evil is that it encourages further evil. Why did God say to punish even the dear one who did evil? "Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you." (Deut. 13:11) Correspondingly, what was the preacher in the N.T. told to do? "Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning." (1 Tim. 5:20) Evil is only checked by exposure and condemnation by the proclamation of truth. The closer to the source of evil, and the sooner it is done, the more effective the rebuke is.
Let us all then live up to the admonition that Paul gave Timothy. "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality." (1 Tim. 5:21) Let us have the integrity and fortitude to apply to gospel standard to all -- friends, relatives, children and ourselves included.
By Jay Horsley
From Expository Files 9-4; April 2002