Harmonizing the Negatives and Positives of God’s Word

John C. Robertson
Magnets have always fascinated me. As a child, I would try to force two magnets to come together at the same poles, but it never worked. However, when I placed the north pole of one magnet together with the south pole of another magnet, they came together quickly. God’s word is somewhat like two magnets joined at opposite poles. Positive commands are joined with negative commands to produce reconciliation. If one dwells only on the positive, he will not have a “coming together” with God. Likewise, one dwelling only on the negative aspects of God’s word, will never “come together” with God. When Jesus sent the seventy out to preach, he implied both the power of magnetism and polarization of God’s word. “He that hears you hears me; and he that rejects you rejects me; and he that rejects me rejects him that sent me” (Luke 10:16).

While in the plains of Moab, Moses commanded the people saying, if your mother, son, daughter, or even wife attempts to draw your heart away from God, do not listen to them. “Neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thy hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people . . .” This is a very negative situation. However, the positive side of the equation is that the heart has escaped from being drawn away from God (Deut. 13:6-11).

Due to the Corinthians not mourning over the fornicator among them the apostle Paul said, “In the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:4-5). This is a very negative statement, yet there is a positive that connects the two. The second clause of verse 5 reveals the positive, “That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul told the Roman brethren to “mark them that are causing divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them” (Rom. 16:17). Thayer defines the word “mark” as “to fix one’s eyes upon, direct one’s attention to.” To turn away from a brother or sister in Christ is a negative action; however, there is a positive side. “For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent” (Rom. 16:18). The positive side to this command is that we keep ourselves from being influenced by such a one.

To face a brother who is in error is a very negative task (Matt. 18:15-17; Jas. 5:19-20). Yet consider the positive side. Jesus said, “If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matt. 18:15). James said, “He who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:20).

The words of our Lord are never offensive to the ears of his true saints. David said, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: Therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path” (Ps. 119:103-105). The magnetism of God’s word is truly captivating and irresistible to the eye of the one who loves him.  A mind that takes the negatives with the positives is one that accepts that God has our well being in mind. Let us not be polarized by God’s word but “perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

Truth Magazine Vol. XLIV: 24  p5  December 21, 2000