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Towards Right Affections
What should we love - What should we hate?


What you love says a lot about who you are. As Scougall said "The excellency of a soul is measured by the object of its love". Thus taste is not a "personal choice", taste is everything! What you like and what you dislike, what you love and what you hate, what your prefer and what you reject ends up being of ultimate importance. Your soul is formed by what you love and what you hate, what you accept as part of you and what you reject as having no place in you at all.

So important is this matter of what we like and what we don't like that the Bible spells out in some detail the things we are to like, and the things we are to dislike. It tells us that we should love certain things such as truth, righteousness, justice, and our neighbor and hate certain other things such as wickedness, sin, moral pollution, idols, and lies.

We are not to love "the world or the things of the world' (1 John 2:15) which are passing away, or money (1 Timothy 6:10) which will pierce us with many a pang, but we must love the truth - our salvation depends on it (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10).

Our affections are to be singular, focused, directed to God. Dual affections are out of place for the Christian!
(Matthew 6:24 NASB) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

We are not supposed to love both the world and the Lord, we are to love the Lord alone!
(1 John 2:15 NASB) Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
(James 4:4 NASB) You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.


This means that your soul must cry out for more of God as intently as it once cried out for more money, or more status or for more sex. The basic drive of the Christian is to be the love of God. This will not diminish our ability to survive as some fear, for He knows what you need and will provide it (Matthew 6;33,34). Loving God and not the world means that you must seek honor in heavenly terms not just status in earthly terms. The mansion you seek needs to be in heaven.

Before I go much further on this topic of right affections lets look at a quick survey of what Scripture has to say on the topic (references from the NASB).

Absolute Hatred (things we should utterly reject)

Dishonest Gain (Exodus 18:21)
The "assembly of evildoers" (Psalm 26:5) possibly criminal gangs
Idolaters (Psalm 31:6)
Wickedness (Psalm 45:7)
Evil (Psalm 97:10, Amos 5:15)
The work of those who fall away (Psalm 101:3)
Every false way (Psalm 119:104,128)
Those who are double-minded (Psalm 119:113)
Falsehood (Psalm 119:163, Proverbs 13:5)
Those who hate God (Psalm 139:21,22)
"Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers." (Proverbs 6:16-19)
(Proverbs 8:13 NASB) "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate.
Bribes (Proverbs 15:27)
Unjust gain (Proverbs 28:16)
Bloodshed (Ezekiel 35:6)
Perjury (Zechariah 8:17)
Divorce (Malachi 2:16)
Lawlessness (Hebrews 1:9)
The deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6)

Comparative Hatred (compared to eternal things)

Father and mother (Luke 14:26)
Life in this world (John 12:25:25)

Things We Are Not To Love (things that can distract us or destroy us)

Foreign wives i.e. taking husbands/wives who are not Christians (1 Kings 11:1,2)
We are not to build wrong alliances and love those who hate the Lord. (2 Chronicles 19:2)

How long will you love that which is worthless? (Psalm 4:2)
You love all words that devour O deceitful tongue (Psalm 52:4)
Naive people love simplicity (Proverbs 1:22)
Do not love sleep (Proverbs 20:13, Isaiah 56:10)
The love of shameful living (Hosea 4:18)
Do not love perjury (Zechariah 8:17)
The love of hypocritical religious pageantry (Matthew 6:5)
Social position - "they love the place of honor at banquets" (Matthew 23:6)
Public praise - who love respectful greetings in marketplaces (Luke 11:43, 20:46)
The love of money is the root of much evil (1 Tim 3:3, 6:10, Hebrews 13:5)
Do not love the world or the things of the world (1 John 2:15)

Commendable Priorities (things we are to love and to focus our affections on)

The following list has been considerably shortened by removing multiple references e.g. to "loving the Lord" which appears hundreds of times.

Loving God with all our heart and keeping His commandments. (Exodus 20:6, Deut 6;5)
We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19;18)
We are to love immigrants and refugees as ourselves (Leviticus 19:34, Deut 10:18,19)
Love the name of the Lord (Psalm 5:11)
The temple - the habitation of thy house (Psalm 26:8)
Salvation (Psalm 40:16)
God's commandments (Psalm 119:47,48)
Wisdom (Proverbs 4:6, 8:17,21)
Your wife (Proverbs 5:19, Eccl 9:9, Eph 5:25-33)
Love good and establish justice in the gate (Amos 5:15)
Love kindness (Micah 6:8)
Love truth and peace (Zechariah 8:19)
Love your personal enemies (Matthew 5:44)
Fellow Christians (John 13:34, 1 Peter 1:22)
The love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)
The love of the truth results in salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:10,11)
Young women are to love their husbands (Titus 2:4)

(Revelation 12:11 NASB) "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.

Loving The Right Things

How do we move from loving the wrong things - such as personal status, religious pomp, political treachery, money and the world to the simple pure love of God, of His commandments and of the brethren? Is it possible for a thoroughly worldly and compromised soul to find true joy in holy things? This is undoubtedly a work of the Holy Spirit. Somehow the heart must be set on fire for God and all the dross burned away. As I observe this change in human hearts I see the "Exodus From Egypt" - or from Babylon, happening in three stages - firstly disillusionment with the world, secondly a time in the desert while the love of God quietly grows, thirdly an entrance into relationship in the Promised Land.

To move out of the love of the world we need the book of Ecclesiastes which shows so clearly that all worldly things, without God, are utterly meaningless. We need to hear Solomon in all His pomp cry out that "all is vanity and chasing after wind" - or hear deeply Jesus' piercing question "What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?". We need to discover that we have a soul, we have existential needs, and they are real and they cannot be satisfied my money, sex or power or by fame and adulation.

Next we need to do an honest life assessment and see where our "love" is leading us. Is our love of sleep leading us into poverty? Is our love of much wine leading us into a dissipated life? Is our love of a non-Christian man leading us into a wrong marriage? Is our love of money piercing us with many a pang? And is our love of praise turning us into a moral coward and robbing us of true faith? We need to make a clean and complete break with these illegitimate loves that lead us to destruction.

Then we have to ask God to do a special work in our heart "Create in me a clean heart O God and set a right spirit within me". We need to ask Him for the renewing of our affections so they warm to His Word and are set on His Son. We may need to ask Him to help us to love our wives or to give up the love of lies and treachery in our business dealings. We may need to confess many wrong affections and cry out for a renewal of who we are in our inmost being.

Fickle love gets a bad review in Scripture. God is praised for His constant love and it is those whose love for God is constant "whose mind is stayed on Thee" that dwell in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) while those of inconstant love, the "double-minded" are hated (Psalm 119:13) and receive nothing from the Lord (James 1:5-8). Thus part of growing in right affection is learning to be constant in our love of God. Through trials and disappointments and testings our love for Him is either strengthened or whittled away. The epistle to the Hebrews is written to those whose love has faded to an ember because of suffering and immaturity. It tells them to hang in there and not to throw away their confidence which has rich reward. (Hebrews 10:35)

In the end there is a final trial, a time when our love of God is shown to be truly steadfast - or fatally flawed. Abraham showed it when he went to sacrifice Isaac and Jesus showed it on the cross and the martyrs have shown it by not loving their lives even unto death. (Rev 12:11). There is a time when our heart is tested and found out, where what we have cherished in our hearts is finally revealed, when we either sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver or carry our cross. Demas left the ministry because of the siren song of the world. A little covetousness and one day he just gave it away and walked into the sunset. Ananias and Sapphira, and those that will take the mark of the Beast - will be fatally betrayed by a little left over greed in their hearts (Rev 13).

Who we are is a result of what we cherish. What we choose results in our destiny and stems from what we love and what we love results from where we set our hearts. Let us set them on the Lord.

(Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB) "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! {5} "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Prayer

O Lord renew the affections of my heart and turn me from the unworthy to the worthy, from the shabby to the holy, from the temporal to the eternal. Create true spiritual desires within me and fix my heart on You forever that I may know Your perfect peace and joy. In Jesus name. Amen

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.