Pride and Humility and God's Hatred
The following is a sermon I delivered in September of 2008 at a Hip Hop bash held at Christian Tabernacle (Houston).
I tell you … I am excited to be here tonight. As you may or may not know, this kind of atmosphere is what I am used to. I was fortunate enough to be involved in hip hop music for at least 15 years of my life, which may date me somewhat, I know. I was a producer, writer, and performer for quite a while and so I ate and slept with the best of these rappers. It is encouraging to be here once again and to see all of the new talent and ministers who represent God and His gospel. However, I am not here to rap – my days are long since over. I am here with the task to preach.
Still I am very excited. In fact, I compiled at least two hours worth of sermon material in preparation and wanted to spill all of that on you tonight. I managed to speak with Dan just a few days ago and asked him about the line up and schedule for tonight and he informed me that I had only 15 minutes. I was on the road in my car at the time and nearly wrecked into a tree. That is frightening thing to say to a preacher, especially to one like myself. It has been about 5 years since I have been at an event like this and so I have much that I want to say. It has sort been building up for those years. But for the sake of time, I will do my best to impart to you some main points.
I love hip hop. It was my passion for almost 25 years. It shaped my thoughts and the way I live. It governed my clothes and speech. It formed in me a style of life. I was a part of the hip hop culture. It made so many decisions in my life that I found myself choosing it rather than choosing God. I let it master me (if you will). And it has a way of doing that.
I was being duped by hip hop and didn’t even know it. So when I discovered this, I quickly decided that it was time to retire. I sat my mic down and walked away. I was in my prime and was finally attaining the respect and record deals that long wanted. And I quite cold-turkey. I had to tell my manager and my crew. I had to tell the fans and friends. But I had to get out. You see, I started to live for hip hop. It was shaping me too much. It was replacing God in my life. And so God was gracious enough to pull me out.
Unfortunately, there are still many who are carried along by hip hop. I remember that some time later I was watching the VMA’s on TV. I used to do this every year. I would watch the award winners very carefully as there name was announced and the audience roars with applause. The rapper would stand to his feet, kiss the plastic women on his side, hug a few of his boys, dab some of his colleagues and maybe turn his nose up on some the others. He would pace up the stage to the forefront, grab his trophy, sometimes give a shot out or two – just pompous and arrogant. I mean, it was all about him. It was as if this was the greatest award that anyone can receive and of course MTV would make it that way. But just stuck on himself and his award that he really feels like he deserves. And then comes the “thank you” speech. And it almost always began like this … “I want to first thank God.” Now some of them will even say “Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.” But ultimately, they are thanking God for their award as if God had something to do with it.
One even went so far some years back and said that God was her inspiration for writing. And of course her music was the typical secular rap: money, sex, and drugs. I mean, come on, what kind of arrogant person thanks God for their sin? Who would have the audacity to believe that God had something to do with their wickedness?
One year I got a bit over disgusted. And I ended up writing an article for an online publication. The photo for the article was a head shot of Missy Elliot in her typical cool stance with the hoop earrings and big teeth. You know, hat tilted and such. And under her photo was the title of the article which read, “God Hates Your Music.”
And as I wrote this article, I was writing with an understanding that God hated my music as well. You see, the more that I replaced God with hip hop, the more I became an offense to God. Now, I know that this is not something we like to hear about. In fact, I think that the world would have you think more along the lines of tolerance. You know, everything is everything. Have an opened mind. Or “do what you like” as the old Digital Undergrounds said.
I think that for the most part, the world would have you not worry about what God thinks. After all, it is not God that pays your bills and makes you happy, right? And so they do as MTV shows us all too well. They paint a picture of prosperity and luscious living if you only just be yourself. If you just pursue your dreams and do what you want to do. If you just win the applause of fans all over the world, you can be famous and that is what really matters – what the people think about you. That is what it told me. That is what I did. And that is why I bounced before it was too late.
The reality is this; God hates. More than often we hear of the wonderful truth that God loves and God is love and God loves His children, but somehow we have neglected the opposite aspect of God’s nature, His hatred. You see it is impossible to love without hating. Because is you love one thing then you must hate the opposite. God loves righteousness; therefore, He hates unrighteousness. He loves the humble; therefore, He hates the prideful. And so as much as He is loving, He is hating.
Let me give you some examples. Some of these might even be familiar to you. Proverbs 6:16-19 says that God hates sin which is wickedness. Malachi 2:11-16 says that God hates divorce. He also hates insincere worship of Him (Isaiah 1:13-14). He hates division (Psalm 6:19). He hates idol worship (Deuteronomy 16:22). The list goes on. God hates wrong doing. He hates sin.
He also hates objects or things. Listen, Proverbs 6:16 says that God hates a lying tongue. He hates hands that shed innocent blood. He hates proud smirks. He hates idols (Deuteronomy 16:22). He hates sinful things (Proverbs 6:16-19). So God not only hates sin, He also hates sinful things or things that can be used for wicked purposes.
Now, you can usually get people to admit that much. They are a bit shy to to it and don’t like it, but they will admit. What they won’t admit is that God hates people. They will only admit that God hates wickedness and wicked things, but not human beings. You’ve heard the saying, “God hates the sin, but not the sinner.” They sort of remove the sin from the person and make the two different things.
Now they have to do this because if they didn’t then they would have to face up to the possibility that God hates them. Right? And so in order to continue in the way they live, they separate the sin from the sinner. But the Bible takes us a little bit further.
Jeremiah 23:9-40 says that God hates false teachers. Second Corinthians 11:13-15 says that God hates false prophets. God hates the divider and the liar (Psalm 6:19). He hates deceitful men (Psalm 6). He hates murderers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). He even hates the sinner (Psalm 5:5). God hates sin, sinful things, and sinful people.
Now, we may have gone too far with some people. This may not be something that they are willing to accept. Some people can’t handle the truth, right? So they next safe-guard is this: “Well, sure God hates the sinners as well, but I’m no sinner.” And friends, this is where all people lose their ground. Romans 3, “There is none righteous, no, not one … there is none who seek after God. All have turned aside … there is none who does good, no, not one.” Verse 23, “For all have sinned and falling short of God’s glory.”
Friends we have no ground to stand on. We are back against the wall. There is truth that we are face to face with – and we can have no excuse. God hates us. He hates you. He hates me.
See, there is no separation of the sin and the sinner. The sinner sins. The one who sins is a sinner. We are sinners and we wreak of distaste from God. He hates us.
But these rappers will thank God as they receive their reward, and for what? … For lying, cheating, stealing, fornicating, accusing, living how they please, blaspheming God and provoking Him to anger so that He hates them. This is the reality of things. This is the greatest secret of Hell. This is what the world does not want you to know. This is the truth, my friends.
“Well, so what! So what if He hates me! People hate me. My parents hate me. I’ve got enemies! So what?” Well this is where the story gets thick. You see, God will not go on being disrespected and dishonored. He created this world and He will do with it as He wants. And He will deal with those He hates harshly. The Bible says that He “break them without remedy” (Proverbs 6:15). He will judge them in the most extreme way. He will burn them in eternal fire. The Bible says that “by nature [we] are children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).
We are all hated by God and friends, we’ve got another thing coming. We have angered the holy, sovereign, supreme, all powerful, being who holds us like bugs in His hands. And at any moment, He can crush us. And believe me, we have done plenty to tick Him off. God doesn’t just hate the sin. He also hates the sinner. And one day He will crush the sinner with great might.
So what does this mean to me? What does this mean to you?
Jesus tells a story that I think will drive this home for us especially for a night like this. It is a story of a two men who went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14). One of them was a respected and popular man. He was considered to be a superstar in the eyes of the world. He was like the rapper who wins the award for artist of the year. People looked up to him because of his success and wisdom in the world. And so, like these rappers on TV, He was an arrogant man. He would raise his hands and eyes toward the heavens so that everyone could see him. And he would pray loudly so that all could hear him. And he would pray, “God, I thank you, you’re my inspiration … I thank you that I am not like other men. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. I rap for charities. I give the ghetto hope.” Do you get the picture?
The second man came to pray as well. He was one of the “others” that the first man was talking about. He stood quite far from the inner temple because he was full of shame and humility, He didn’t think that he could get close to God who is holy and righteous. And rather than looking to the heavens, he bowed with his eyes because he felt as though he was not worthy of gazing at the Lord. He was quite and to himself because he didn’t want to disturb others who were praying and he certainly didn’t want to offend God by being too loud. He was still and motionless, except for his hands, which were not raised to the heavens. They were beating his chest which was a sign of shame. And he was praying, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Jesus ends his story with this, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” Why? “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Justification is a word that means “made righteous” before God. It is to say that the humble man who was beating his chest begging for mercy as a sinner, was granted forgiveness and covered in righteousness so that God’s hatred would overlook him. See, the good man was judged and the bad man was justified.
This doesn’t mean that God has not appease His hatred (satisfy His hatred for this man). Rather, God sent His son to pay the penalty on his behalf. He has in fact punished Jesus with the hatred that He was withholding from this man. And so is now withholding from us. You see, we are but ants in the might hands of God. And we keep biting and biting Him. We keep ticking Him off. We keep angering Him. And so He stores up His wrath and hatred for the time when He no long wills to keep the ant alive, and He crushes it.
Oh, but thank the Lord that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This my friends, is the good news.
What does this mean to you? It means that you can be like the pompous man who prays, “I thank God for my sins.” Or you can be like the second man who was humble who prays, “God have mercy on this wretched sinner.”
Which man will you be?
One rapper got it right. And so I’ll leave you with his words tonight:
Lord, is there any more mercy left for this stubborn stiff-necked sinner who flirts with death? Any more goodness for me to smell and taste or have I dried up all the wells of grace? Can Your fountain of love be empty? Jesus, is there any more of your blood to cleanse me? As soon as I thought I got good in me, I knocked from my feet and dropped and empty. Because I played the whore and despised your glory even though You’ve only shown kindness towards me. I belittled your work and spurned you Bible. Plus I turned aside to worthless idols. But in the mountains of Your riches, there is abundant grace in storehouses of forgiveness. See, we can’t be saved in accordance to our performance. Otherwise no one would have assurance. We can only be saved through faith in Christ’s finish work which is His perfect life and sacrifice to forgive our dirt. So please be relieved. God will see you in Christ with the righteousness that He achieved. So those who fall repent, He’ll re-heal again. Then get back on your feet and keep killing sin. Don’t stay down look to the cross and gospel. Get up renewed but be cautious and watchful. And truly die to your pride ask the Lord to create a clean heart and new desires inside. And recall how sin’s deceit is so grievous. Now strive and press on to know Jesus. Giving praise to the King who has risen, saying blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.