Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“The world can’t hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it,
that its works are evil.”
Jesus, in John 7:7
I had always understood the above verse to mean, “The world doesn’t hate you”, but that is not what the Lord said. He said, “The world cannot hate you . . . .” Recently, the Lord brought that verse to my attention and helped me understand what he was really saying to his earthly brothers, Mary’s other sons.
Jesus told his brothers that the world could not hate them, and then he told them why the world could not hate them, but could hate him: they did not testify to the world, that its deeds were evil, but he did. The fundamental reason that the world crucified Jesus instead of his brothers was that Jesus brought light into the world; that is, he brought the knowledge of God to men, which is the knowledge of what is truly good AND of what is truly evil. Standing before Pontius Pilate, Jesus said, “For this purpose I have been born, and for this purpose I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (Jn. 18:37). Jesus’ example showed us that “bearing witness to the truth” includes pointing out to men what is evil as well as what is good.
But why is it that the world cannot hate unless someone speaks the truth concerning its evil deeds? It is because the truth, when it is spoken, has power. It creates. Within the hearts of the good, it creates a love for righteousness that they did not previously know. The truth, when it is spoken, elevates those who love God to a new level of communion with Him. It empowers them to become more like Jesus. That is why those who love God in their hearts love the truth when they hear it, and love the messengers who speak it to them. On the other hand, the truth, when it is spoken, elevates the ungodly to a new level of hatred for Christ and his servants. It empowers and embolden them to become more like the devil. That is why the ungodly, especially those who are religious, hate the truth when they hear it, and hate the messengers who speak it to them. When Jesus spoke, it empowered the world to hate as it had never hated before.
Only the truth gives men power to hate as Satan hates. God’s truth changes everything when it comes, with changes that cannot be undone. Everyone who hears the truth is changed by it, whether for good or for evil. Those who are “of the world” and hear the truth are empowered by the truth to be more evil than they are, to hate as never before, beyond the power of ordinary men. Likewise, those who are “of God” are empowered by the truth to be more of what they really are, to love as never before, to be good beyond the power of ordinary men. The truth brings out and magnifies whatever is hidden in the hearts of men.
The world cannot hate you if you do not reprove its “works of darkness”. Whoever is like Jesus testifies against the ungodly conduct of men. And those who dare to do that will be mightily blessed, the way Jesus said they would be: “Blessed are you, whenever people revile and persecute you, and say every evil thing against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt. 5:11—12).
Unless you confess the truth before men, you will never know that blessing.