Like Ahab, by nature, we hate God and hate the Son of God. This is the greatest of all crimes. Paul said, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha” (1 Cor. 16:23). “Anathema” means to be cursed of God. Maranatha means "our Lord will come." Paul is saying that all who hate Christ will be cursed of God at Christ's coming. Hatred in the heart is murder in the heart (1 John 3:15). God’s assessment of humanity is that they are “haters of God” (Rom. 1:30). To fail to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength is to fail to keep all of His commandments (James 2:10). And who among us can claim to have ever loved God with all that we are?
The fact is, unless we are born of God, we only hate God. “We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). But when we are born of God, the Spirit of God in us gives us grace to believe Christ. By this grace of faith, we no longer hate Him, but rather, we see that Christ is altogether lovely, and so love Him (Song 5:16). Who wouldn’t love Him?! He is good in all His ways. He is full of compassion. He gave Himself to God for those that hated Him to save them by His grace and faithful obedience in His death. And yet, it is not our love for Christ that removes God's curse. It is Christ's sacrifice of Himself to God for us (Gal. 3:13). Our love for Him is but the fruit of His love to us.
Believing Christ is to believe the love God has for us in Christ. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (1 John 4:16). “The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20; Jer. 31:3). Thus, the Spirit of Christ in us makes this love known to us through His gift of faith. By faith we see and are persuaded that we are all God says we are as sinners. And by faith we also see and are persuaded that Christ is all to God for us, and that He is all from God to us, as God says that He is (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:9-10; 3:11).
The world and every natural man only hates God and hates God’s Son. But believers are born of God and therefore love God because they have known God’s love to them in Christ. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we have been forgiven much, we know it is owing to God’s great love of mercy and grace. We therefore love much (Luke 7:47). The converse is necessarily true. If we love little, we have been forgiven little. If we have been forgiven only a little, we have not been forgiven enough, because we have sinned greatly and sinned much. May the Lord Himself dwell in us by His Spirit that we may have grace to receive His testimony against ourselves and know that our sin is great, and receive His testimony of Christ that we may know our Savior is greater than our sin because of His great love wherewith He loved us (Psa. 25:11; Heb. 1:3; 9:24-28; Eph. 2:1-10; 3:16-21)!
The one thing that has struck me above all else while reading the life of Joseph (Gen. chapter 37; Gen. 39:1-50:21) is how Joseph did only good, only loved and obeyed his father, and loved and saved his brethren, though they only hated and envied him. They hated Joseph so much that they could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to their own brother, and conspired against him to kill him (Gen. 37:4, 11, 18). This is the sad, sad picture of our natural heart (Rom. 8:7)! Yet on his part, Joseph loved his brethren, and took great joy in knowing that God sent him to save them through his humiliation and sufferings at their wicked hands. So it was with Christ, our heavenly Joseph (Acts 2:23; 4:28; Gen. 50:20). I believe that Joseph, by the Spirit of God, understood in his sufferings that the dreams God gave him of his exaltation and honor and rule over his brethren, and mistreatment at their hands, all pointed to our heavenly Joseph, the Lord Jesus Christ (Psa. 40:6-8; John 5:46; 1 Pet. 1:11; Matt. 26:54).
When we see Christ through Joseph, we see the radiance of Christ’s goodness and His perfections reflecting from one vantage point to another, as a diamond reflecting light. We see all of these angles of reflection reinforcing the same grand, endearing and glorious truth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: He saved His people from their sins, even His people who hated Him in their heart, and whose hands killed Him. All that Christ said and all that He did and all that He suffered and when He laid His life down in His death; and then all that He did and said after He rose again, is all because He loved those God gave Him before the foundation of the world, and for whom He gave Himself to God in sacrifice in righteousness. He "loved righteousness and hated iniquity" (Heb. 1:9). Therefore, God His Father "anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows" (Heb. 1:8-9). He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, His Father highly exalted Him (Php. 2:5-11). He tasted death for every son. Therefore, His Father crowned Him with glory and honor (Heb. 2:9). And His exaltation and rule over all things is by the eternal love and compassion of His heart to His sinful people, who by all they were by nature, hated Him, but are now saved by His obedience and sufferings for them in love, and therefore love Him.
As Joseph knew his brethren, Christ knew us. As Joseph pitied his deceitful, hateful, envying brethren, Christ pitied us. As Joseph comforted his brethren, Christ comforts us when by His grace we see the evil of our nature and our sins against Him. Like Joseph’s brethren, all that we thought, said and did, we meant for evil. But The Lord Jesus Christ meant all that He thought, said and did for our eternal good. He bore all that we were and all that we did, at full, personal cost to Himself. Can anyone so seeing Christ not love Him?! Is not this, therefore, the greatest crime and evidence of wickedness, that we would fail to love the Son of God? Surely, that is why Paul pronounces "Anathema" upon all who do not love Him. Knowing this makes me so ashamed of my unbelief and sin, which are the result of my paltry love for Christ.
May the Lord our God and Savior, deliver us from the spirit that was in Ahab, to hate the Son of God, the Prophet of the LORD (Acts 7:37; Heb. 1:1-2). The first lesson Joseph’s ten brothers learned, and that we must learn, is that they were great sinners. The second lesson we must learn, by the life-giving grace of the Spirit of God, is that Christ is all-glorious in His salvation. He is our only and all-sufficient Savior because for His great love, by Himself, He answered God with Himself for us, in our place, instead of us. In so doing, He saved us from our sins. And because of His unceasing love, will yet save us to the uttermost (Psa. 21:1-6; Matt. 1:21; Acts 4:12; Rom. 5:9-10; Heb. 7:25).