113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law – Who are the double-minded? They are referred to in numerous other passages of scripture:
James 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.
The double-minded man professes belief in one thing at one moment, and acts according to the norms that flow from such a belief, and at the drop of a hat, acts in ways completely contrary to the norms which he professes. The New Testament refers to such a person as a “hypocrite”, a word which we get from the Greek text itself. The word refers to an actor wearing a mask who is merely putting on a show and is not really who he says he is, does not really believe, deep down, what he says he does. As David will acknowledge in this very section of Psalm 119(Samekh), all Christians are in constant danger of this. This applies not merely to Christians, but to all people in general. The mind is inherently unstable and is in constant flux. This is not because we live in a fallen world, since change is the norm even for those in heaven, insofar as they are constantly growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord rather than reaching a state of blessed stasis. What makes the flux we experience on earth evil, however, is its inconsistency. It operates according to one principle atone point and its body issues in concomitant actions, and at the next moment,
Doesn’t Jesus tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Yet the Psalmist here tells us, in the Spirit, that he hates those who are double-minded and live inconsistent lives. What gives? While some manuscripts read “I hate vain thoughts”, the LXX, Vulgate and Oriental versions interpret the text as referring to hatred of actual double-minded persons. The hatred here must refer to a holy contempt of those who embrace such a way of life willfully. This hatred is not a deliberate and unrepentant malice towards specific individuals as though David wants them to be condemned by God out of personal contempt, but a contempt for their behavior motivated by concern for God’s glory.
God is even more glorified in his mercy than in his judgment, which is his strange work, and David would undoubtedly prefer that such people be brought to repentance, as he wishes of himself and as he hopes for himself in this same section. We ought to always be careful about our hatred. Most of our hatred and most of our anger is not good. We are more likely to be angry at others as though they have sinned against us rather than because they have sinned against God. Such anger is self-righteous and rooted in pride. Truly godly anger is a sober, sustained, heart-broken opposition to whatever dishonors God. It is not a paroxysmal rage that bitterly and sadistically wishes to see one’s enemies destroyed and rejoices at their falling. This hatred is more apt to weep and to plead than to shout.
We must keep this in mind when we rebuke those who teach heresies. It is all too often that our rebuking and correcting is motivated by self-righteous hatred of the person rather than a concern for God’s glory. Many times it is motivated by a spirit of revenge.We have all been abused by plenty of people throughout our lives, and are ourselves guilty of comparable abuse. When we rebuke a false teacher in a spirit of bitterness in rage, we are oftentimes taking the abuse that we ourselves have received and simply venting our resentment and vengeance on another person. This is doubly demonic because it is not only sinful in its motive but pretends to be godly. This is evident to everyone who observes such rebuking, whether Christian or not.
I personally struggle a great deal with this. I became extremely angry when I read Rob Bell’s “Love Wins.” Yet my anger was at many times, indeed, the vast majority of the time, unsanctified and wicked, directed toward his person because I believed his exegesis was stupid and indefensible and his motives insincere and cynical. I was not If I am concerned with God’s glory. I simply had contempt for him as a person and saw him as wicked and full of unbelief. Yet everyone is wicked and full of unbelief. I have probably committed more sins than Rob Bell. I certainly sin when I bitterly condemn him with curses rather than pray that he come to a knowledge of the truth.
I am no better than he is whatsoever. Perhaps Rob Bell will come to a knowledge of the truth and he will be several times more sanctified than I am and occupy a much greater station in heaven than I do. This is the sort of thing I ought to pray for when reading Rob Bell. If I am embittered at what he writes in his book, it should be bitter sorrow that sin has wrought such havoc in the world that such ear-tickling teaching is so popular, not bitter rage towards his person because I think he is personally stupid, that his exegesis is stupid, that my exegesis is a great deal better and people should be paying attention to me insteadof paying attention to him and buying his books, and so on. If Rob Bell were ultimately to occupy a higher position in heaven than me, it would be occasion to praise the glorious grace of God forever. I deserve hell no less than he does and perhaps more. If I have come to a saving knowledge of the truth, it is only because of God’s grace and not because I am smarter or more moral than he is. I may very well be neither of these things. I am certainly no more deserving of heaven.
As I have said, many times we simply vent our bad temper on others. Sometimes this is the result of having been abused ourselves, whether it be physically, verbally or sexually. In this case, I deceive myself into thinking that I am standing up for the truth (which I may be on a purely doctrinal level) in my bitter invective when in reality I am a disgrace to the truth. I am perhaps even worse than Rob Bell in my behavior because, if what I am saying is true, then my attitude will turn others off to my position because they will see Calvinists as vile, hateful, proud, judgmental and self-righteous, when we ought to be none of those things. Unfortunately, many of us are, and I fear that I myself am chief among them, and pray that God would mortify these evil affections in me. Furthermore, in venting my abuse on Rob Bell, I may cause him a great deal of psychological and spiritual harm. I did not like it one bit when I was abused and I express my dislike of this in abusive behavior towards others which simply perpetuates the cycle. So I very strongly disagree with Rob Bell’s doctrine and question his motives. Does this mean it is right or me to be abusive towards him and to make him feel bad? If others said to me the sorts of things I have said about Rob Bell, I do not think they would have rolled off of my back half as easily as they probably do Rob’s.
Regardless of whether or not Rob Bell is a tool of judgment on others, he is certainly a tool of discipline on me and on many other evangelicals. We oftentimes bitterly condemn open, flagrant sinners in such a way that makes it obvious that we do not love them. Rob Bell calls us out on this and tells us that we’re to love our enemies, regardless of what sort of sin they be engaged in. We pay lip service to this and affirm that we do love such people and are simply speaking the truth without sugar-coating it, when in reality, we may be full of self-righteousness, envy of and hatred towards them. We must be constant in our examination of our motives. If false teachers make us angry, as they should, we must prayerfully consider our responses to them and our motives for our responses lest we give the heathen occasion to blaspheme the truth by our vicious behavior.
How is our bitter behavior often self-righteous? We are Calvinists, we believe in total depravity and that even the greatest of saints carry in their bosoms enough flesh to kindle a new hell should God stay his hand for a nanosecond, and yet we so oftentimes justify our nasty speech towards false teachers as stemming from pure motives. We are not at that moment consciously contemplating how righteous we ourselves are. We are not explicitly saying as the Pharisee, “O Lord, I am glad that you did not make me like Rob Bell, a liberal who denies inerrancy and affirms homosexuality.” We are not explicitly saying this sort of thing, but that is precisely what is so deceptive about such self-righteousness; it is entirely below the threshold of consciousness. I do not refer to some sort of contemporary post-Freudian psychobabble when I refer to the unconscious.
I use the term in an entirely non-technical sense to simply refer to that of which we are not immediately conscious on a linguistic level. Ask yourself, if you had really fully and truly appropriated the reality that you are a sinner no less deserving of God’s infinite and eternal displeasure than Rob Bell, could you so bitterly and viciously condemn him? The prophets did condemn Israel quite bitterly, but it was a bitter sorrow, and it led them to weep, not to spit vitriol in the eyes of their audience. The only plausible explanation of why we can be so nasty is because at that moment we have forgotten who we are before God. We have come to fancy ourselves God and are manytimes responding to sins committed against us by others in the past and taking it out on Rob Bell. We must examine our hearts and forgive those who have hurt us and not vent our resentment on false teachers in the name of righteousness.