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Mutual Abomination

By Dennis Pollock


At the end of the 29th chapter of Proverbs, there is a verse that I do not ever remember hearing in any sermon or Bible teaching. And believe me, I have heard lots and lots of sermons over the course of my fifty-plus years as a Christian. But this verse is rarely quoted and rarely made the topic of any sermon or Bible lesson. Today, we'll talk about it. OK, by now you are curious, so let me share the verse and then I'll discuss it. In Proverbs 29 we read these words:


An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked. (Proverbs 29:27)


Here we have what I have sometimes thought of as two mutual abomination societies. One group says to the other, "Your lifestyle, your attitudes, and your values are disgusting to me. I cannot even imagine how you could be so stupid, and how miserable you must be to believe and act the way you do." And the other group is looking back at the first group and saying the same thing: "How in the world can you live like you do and think like you do? I find your way of life abominable!"


The words "abominable" or "abomination" are not used much these days, but we do find them in the Bible frequently, particularly in the Old Testament. Many define an abomination as "a thing that causes disgust." It represents not just a sin or a miserable lifestyle, but the very worst sins and lifestyle. When we see something or someone who we feel is abominable we are revolted; we feel disgust in the worst possible way. This is more than disapproval. A feeling of abomination is the result of seeing something or someone who represents the very antithesis of what we consider beautiful and pleasing.


An Abomination


Let's look at what is being said in this strange verse. We are told that an unjust man is an abomination to the righteous. An unjust man would be a godless man, a wicked man who does evil deeds and has a flagrantly immoral lifestyle. When righteous people look at such a man or woman, they are appalled and disgusted. They find such a godless lifestyle offensive and depressing to even contemplate. A selfish, sensual, lustful, greedy way of life is the cesspool from which Jesus has delivered them, and they want nothing more to do with it. From the New Testament teachings, we understand that it is only through Jesus that we can be declared righteous. But along with His imputed righteousness is attached a desire to live a moral, compassionate, and responsible life. In Hebrews we read: "Beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation…" (Hebrews 6:9). Certain things should "accompany" salvation, and these would include a desire to please God, an instinctive shunning of sexual immorality, a passion to pray, and basic, moral decency, known in the Bible as uprightness. If these things do not appear in your life, after you feel you have received Jesus, you'd better check and see if your salvation is the real thing.


And accordingly, when righteous men and women (men and women who have received Jesus and in whom the Holy Spirit lives and produces His fruit), when these people see ungodly, profane, irreverent people who mock God and assume any success they have seen in their life is of their own making, they are sickened, much like most people would be disgusted to see a huge amount of vomit on the floor of a department store aisle.


Some might see this as judgmental, but to be able to identify ungodly, abominable behavior is not judging; it is simply seeing things the way that God sees them. When we hear a co-worker bragging about all the women he has slept with, we don’t need to say to ourselves, "Well, he's only human. It's not my place to pronounce judgment on him. Maybe he had a good reason for sleeping with all those women." No, there is nothing judgmental in looking upon flagrantly wicked and sensual behavior and thinking to ourselves, "This is terrible."


Violent Neighbor


If we live next to a man who violently beats his wife, curses at her constantly, and tells her over and over that she is worthless and a loser, is it wrong for us to be disgusted with his behavior? Shall we say to ourselves, "Well, he's only human. I'm sure that deep in his heart he is a good guy and loves his wife." NO! He is not a good guy, and he does not love his wife, and any Christian who can look at such a man and make excuses for him is not much better than he is.


In the Book of Galatians, Paul writes: "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1). This means that there may be times when we see a man or woman in our church who has fallen into flagrant sin, we are to go to that man and attempt to restore him. But this means that before we do this, we must consider what he is doing, evaluate it, and make a moral judgment! We cannot merely say, "Well, he's only human, I'm only human, we're all only human," so who am I that I should ever tell anyone that they are doing anything wrong?" According to Paul, when we see gross immorality and wickedness in the life of one who calls himself a brother, we are to go to him and try to restore him, knowing that his wicked behavior is bringing a reproach upon himself, upon the church, and the Lord Jesus.


Psalm 15 tells us the kind of man or woman who lives in God's presence. It opens with the question: "LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?" (Psalm 15:1). He then lists various characteristics of godly people, including walking uprightly, telling the truth, and not harming his neighbor. But in verse four it says something many might find puzzling. We are told this of the person who dwells in God's holy hill… "In whose eyes a vile person is despised…" (Psalm 15:4). Many would surely think that strange. According to the Bible, we are supposed to despise vile people. This does not mean that we hate them, but it surely means that we look at their lawless, ungodly lifestyle and say "Yuck!" We find their way of life miserable and repulsive. Never is this truer than in many who make up the world of entertainment. Most of these celebrities have little use for God; they are often profane, irreverent, lewd, and disrespectful of God and the Bible. And yet our world admires and envies them. But not so with the men or women who abide in the tabernacle of the Holy One. We look at their perverse lifestyles and hear their anti-Biblical, anti-Christian opinions and commentaries and we are disgusted.


The Wicked are Disgusted by the Godly


But it works the other way as well. Proverbs go on to tell us that when the ungodly look upon the lives of righteous men and women (people who love and follow Jesus Christ), they, too are disgusted. Our conservative values, our unswerving devotion to our spouses, our refusal to look at sex-filled television shows and movies, and our desire to live simple, honest, and responsible lives, they find incredibly tedious and dull. So, they look at us and are disgusted, and we feel the same way about them.


Is it possible to be disgusted with the way someone lives and yet love them and desire the best for them? Of course, it is. This is precisely how God felt about us before drawing us to Himself and His Son Jesus. He looked upon our little, selfish, sexually immoral lives and shuddered, and yet in His great compassion and love, He began to warm our hearts with His Holy Spirit and draw us to Jesus. He moved us to read the Bible, go to church, or watch a Christian movie or video, and before long we found ourselves calling Jesus Lord. And we must follow our Master in this. Although we live in a wicked world, and people are living and reveling in disgusting ways and lifestyles that God never intended and forbids. But still, we love them, pray for them, and try to do what we can to point them to Jesus. Where they are we once were, and where we are, we hope they will one day be.




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