John 1:11: He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Luke 19:12-14: He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
The ultimate evil is rejecting the reign of the Lord over us. To reject the Lord is to hate Him. To love the Lord is to receive Him. To delay receiving Him is to hate Him. There is no neutral ground. Love is not just a good feeling, it is a command and an action and a choice. Hate is not just a bad feeling, it is a choice.
One may not be aware of the feelings until after the choice is made. People who receive Christ have instant and then growing feelings of tenderness and appreciation toward Him after the fact. People who reject Christ become increasingly hateful of Him. Their hatred is demonstrated in increasing ways. It will culminate in Hell.
Since I have received Christ I have become aware that before that day I had resentment toward God. I did not know it was actually hatred. I did not dare to recognize that it was hatred. I would never have admitted that it was hatred. Since I have received Christ I sometimes do things for the Lord without recognizing that I am doing them out of love for Him. Sometimes I don*t recognize that I have stopped hating Him and begun loving Him. We humans are clumsy at expressing love. Expressing our hatred and disapproval comes much easier. Do you ever tell the Lord I love you? He wants to hear it and He wants to see it demonstrated.
We have probably all heard stories of the hatred people in prison have toward those who put them there. Sometimes when they get out they seek revenge. People in Hell will never have a chance to seek revenge against God. I suspect they will try forever to take revenge upon themselves. They themselves will be the only people within reach to blame. They will know that they made a horrible choice. I don*t believe Hell will just be the judgment of God; it will also be the judgment of self. I think Hell might a place where it will be impossible to get revenge on anyone else. I wonder if the people there will feel that others are successfully getting revenge upon them. It would certainly not be enjoyable to get revenge on someone and not even know about it.
When we disappoint ourselves it is far more noticeable and painful than when we disappoint someone else. Sometimes we don*t even notice that we have disappointed someone else. Disappointing one*s self can be Hell on earth. Disappointing one*s self can lead us to trust the one who will never disappoint.
People*s hatred for God shows itself in many ways even here on earth. When I have offered people an opportunity to receive Christ they have occasionally said Not now. They try to say it in a way that sounds gracious and tender. They try to say it in a way that sounds like a promise. One young man told me he felt he should receive Christ later when he was alone. To my knowledge he never has. From that day on he has avoided me. I believe his statement was his way of putting distance between him and the Lord. I believe it was his way of saying no to Christ. I know of people who have died within days of those quiet but firm refusals. Their refusals have torn my heart out. Their refusals have broken the heart of Christ.
Jesus endured scoffing when He walked here on earth, especially in the last few days before He went to the cross. They said Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Gentle and quiet rejections of Him are just as horrible as the abuse He endured. The gentle and quiet rejections get the same result as the vociferous ones.
They called Him a deceiver. The gentle and quiet rejections and delays imply that He is a deceiver. When He speaks to their heart and tells them that they need Him, rejections say that they do not need Him and that He is a liar. When He speaks to their heart now and tells them that they need Him now, delaying implies that He is a liar.
All rejections of Christ and delays in receiving Him are sin. People who reject Him convince themselves that they have not sinned. Practice makes perfect is true of many things. It is true of rejecting Christ. It gets easier for people to reject Christ each time they do it. I can speak from personal experience about that.
When I was a young child, perhaps 8 or 9 years of age, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to receive Christ. My heart was tender. After I heard the gospel I responded as best I could and walked down the aisle at the invitation. It was at the conclusion of the evening service at a summer camp. Two or three adults walked down that aisle at the same service. No one helped me to pray a prayer asking forgiveness for my sins. No helped me to pray and receive Christ. Nothing happened.
After that I convinced myself that people who claimed to have received Christ and had their sins forgiven were fooling themselves. After that I heard the gospel dozens of times, perhaps hundreds. It became easier and easier to turn off the ears of my heart. After I did receive Christ at age 43 I was angry at the failure of that preacher to close the deal for me. I have come to realize that for some people walking down an aisle is a demonstration of their faith in Christ. For me it was my doing something, it was my walking down the aisle. It was faith in me. It was not faith in Christ.
Perhaps God saved me later because I tried to respond to Him as a child even though it was not a total response. Perhaps I needed to have faith in Him and not faith in that preacher. Perhaps it was a failure by that preacher. Perhaps God saved me later so I would be more grateful. My anger at that preacher has dissipated because of my own failures in dealing with others since I have been saved. I have learned that salvation is of the Lord. It happens when He wants it to happen. Every part of salvation is a gift of God, even the time and place it happens. I am grateful to God that He sought me and gave me an irresistible invitation to receive Christ and He showed me my need.
They crucified Christ because He called Himself a King. They did not want Him to be their King. People who reject Him today do not want Him to be their King. They said He deserved to die. People who reject Him today are essentially telling Him to drop dead. Before people hear the gospel they are on shaky ground. When they reject Christ they jump into quicksand. It will swallow them up unless God pulls them out.
The ultimate rebellion against God is rejecting Christ. There are millions of ways to do it. They can be bold. They can be sneaky. They can be loud. They can be quiet. They can be wordless. They can be a failure to act. They can be subtle. They can be a simple delay. There are as many ways to reject Christ as there are people in Hell. It can be difficult for us to continue to love those that reject Christ but with God*s help we can.