An obvious unbeliever once wrote:
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him” (G.K. Chesterton).
So what does this mean, exactly? Let’s apply Chesterton’s words to the defense of one’s wife and family in the face of a would-be intruder into the home (under cover of darkness). Does the God-ordained protector of the family hate this intruder? Of course he does. He hates him with a perfect hatred as the Psalmist says. The husband-father-protector also loves this intruding enemy, as Christ says he should (he may visit this intruder in the hospital or prison and pray for him).
I think the true soldier fights, primarily, because he loves what he is protecting. But, certainly, he also hates what is in front of him because that which is in front seeks to devour what the soldier loves.
“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; on account of this God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your fellows” (Psalm 45:7).
“Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10).
“Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15).
“I hate the halfhearted; but I love Your Law” (Psalm 119:113).
“I hate and abhor lying: [but] thy law do I love” (Psalm 119:163).
“Because I suffered reproach for Your sake, shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My brothers and a foreigner to My mother’s children. For the zeal of Your house has consumed Me; and the reproaches of the ones who reproach You have fallen on Me” (Psalm 69:7-9).
“And the Passover of the Jews was near. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found those selling oxen and sheep and doves in the temple, and the money changers sitting. And making a whip out of ropes, He threw all out of the temple, both the sheep, and the oxen, and the money changers, pouring out the money and overturning the tables. And to the ones selling the doves, He said, Take these things from here! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise. And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Your house has consumed Me” (John 2:13-17).
“Hot zeal has seized me because of the wicked forsaking Your Law” (Psalm 119:53).
“My zeal has eaten me up, for my enemies have forgotten Your Word” (Psalm 119:139.
“For He put on righteousness like armor, and a helmet of salvation on His head. And He put on robes of vengeance [as] clothing; and He put on zeal like a mantle” (Isaiah 59:17).
There is truth, love, hatred, and zeal intermingled in this. While an attempt may be made to differentiate or distinguish, how can these things be separated out? For instance, can one say something like
“not because he hates [wickedness], but because he loves [righteousness]”?
So, presumably it’s NOT because he LOVES wickedness. So what is it? Is it because he loves wickedness LESS than he loves righteousness? Again, presumably this is not Chesterton’s meaning. Perhaps his meaning is that while a soldier hates what is before him, the main or primary focus is about what he loves, and not about what he hates. At any rate, here is how I would adapt the Chesterton quote:
“The true soldier fights vigorously, valiantly, and courageously, because he hates what is in front of him, but more importantly because he sincerely, knowledgeably, and zealously loves what is behind him.”
The emphasis of importance is on the soldier’s (or the warrior or knight’s) bride. It matters not whether it be a dragon, a wolf, or a serpent — there will be implacable hatred toward this enemy of his bride. But what, ultimately, primarily, and most importantly is the driving, motivating, and animating force behind the convincing thrust of the knight’s sword into the dragon’s belly or the thwack of the shepherd’s staff upon the wolf’s mazzard? I’m not sure quite how to word it, but it’s a sort of Holy Spirit combination of love for the truth, hatred for falsehood, and consuming zeal intermingled among these. Zeal for His House has eaten us up. Picture Jesus Christ driving out the false religionists with a whip — what do we see? Truth, love, hatred, zeal, holiness, knowledge, wisdom.
Is fighting more about your love for your betrothed virgin chaste bride, or hatred of the red dragon? Is your desire to fight more about your love for the sheep, or your hatred for the wolf? Of course, you hate the wolf for he seeks to devour your beloved lamb. It will NOT be a love for fighting per se, but a Holy Spirit wrought zealous love for Truth that accords with knowledge (cf. Romans 10:1-4). You must know what you are aiming at; what you are fighting for.
In many instances the Christ-despising lovers of a false peace (see Tolerant Calvinists) will exhibit a cowardly refusal to fight for truth. This refusal stems NOT so much from their love of “peace” (though they DO love this “peace, peace” when there is no peace); but rather from their CONTEMPT for Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
“I am the Good Shepherd! The Good Shepherd lays down His life on behalf of the sheep. But the hireling, not even being a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and forsakes the sheep and flees. And the wolf seizes them, and scatters the sheep. But the hireling flees because he is a hireling, and there is not a care to him concerning the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that [are] Mine, and I am known by the [ones that are] Mine. Even as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:11-16; underlining mine).
“And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent being called devil, and, Satan; he deceiving the whole habitable world was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ, because the accuser of our brothers is thrown down, the one accusing them before our God day and night. 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 soul even until death. Because of this, be glad, the heavens and those tabernacling in them. Woe to the ones dwelling on the earth, and in the sea, because the devil came down to you having great anger, knowing that he has a little time! And when the dragon saw that he was cast out onto the earth, he pursued the woman who bore the male. And two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness, to her place, where she is nourished there a time, and times, and half a time, away from the serpent’s face. And the serpent threw water out of his mouth like a river after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried off by the river. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon threw out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged over the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, those keeping the commandments of God, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:9-17; underlining mine).
Sometimes true Christians get (falsely) accused of just loving to fight (or merely loving to pick fights). So, in this slanderous case they would hypothetically fight about, or for ANYTHING, whatever (this fighting over the true gospel is a mere accidental — just so happens to be the “flavor of all of history”)!
Love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6; underlining mine).
“… and in all deceit of unrighteousness in those being lost, because they did not receive the love of the truth in order for them to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10; underlining mine).
What does a sincere and unfeigned love of the truth look like? What does it mean to truly receive the love of the truth? Do you love the truth of the gospel of Christ if you think believers in the lie are your muddled spiritual brethren?
If believers in the Galatians 1:8-9 “gospel” are your felicitously inconsistent brethren, then what, pray tell, are you rejoicing in with them? Are you rejoicing in and receiving the love of the truth, by penciling in the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ as an optional gospel doctrine, over which you can “agree-to-disagree” with your brothers in Satan, the Arminians?
All of this relates to how true Christians are united in this fight for precious words like “propitiation” with their wearied, weathered, scarred, and like-minded battle-mates. We pray, we fight. We do NOT fight over non-essential gospel matters; we do not tussle over trivialities (for that is what many God-hating and self-righteous religionists do). We “more than conquer through Him loving us” (Romans 8:37) in all of our engagements with the dark forces of evil (see Ephesians 6:10-24).
“Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart, being regenerated, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the living Word of God, and remaining forever. Because all flesh [is] as grass, and all [the] glory of men as [the] flower of grass; the grass was dried, and its flower fell out, but [the] Word of [the] Lord remains forever. And this is the Word announced as gospel to you” (1 Peter 1:22-25; underlining mine).
“Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort [you] to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3; underlining mine)
“Then I, the prisoner in [the] Lord, exhort you to walk worthily of the calling in which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [There is] one body and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, the [One] above all and through all and in you all” (Ephesians 4:1-6; underlining mine).
“But we speak [the] wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age has known. For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; according as it has been written, Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it risen up into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those that love Him. But God revealed [them] to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of a man within him? So also no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God. But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in [Words] taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual [things.] But a natural man does not receive the things of [the] Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know [them,] because they are spiritually discerned. But the spiritual one discerns all things, but he is discerned by no one. For who has known [the] mind of [the] Lord? Who will teach Him? But we have [the] mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:7-16; underlining mine).
“Even as the body is one, and has many members, but all the members of the one body, being many, [are] one body, so also [is] Christ. For also we all were baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, even all were given to drink into one Spirit. For also the body is not one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; underlining mine).
“Then you suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one serving as a soldier entangles [himself] with the affairs of [this] life, so that he might please the [one] having enlisted [him]” (2 Timothy 2:3-4; cf. Philippians 2:25; underlining mine).
“But if indeed I am poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice; yea, I rejoice with you all. And you also rejoice [in] the same and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:17-18; underlining mine).
“So that, my beloved brothers, [you] be firm, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord always, knowing that your labor is not without fruit in [the] Lord” (1 Corithians 15:58; underlining mine).