- Rick LoPresti
The value of hate
The Bible is the greatest book ever written. Although it was physically written by men, it was inspired by God (2Tim 3:15-17, 2Pet 1:20-21). It is the only "religious" volume that simultaneously shows man his sin and shows him the love of the Creator for His creation (Jn 3:16, Jn 15:13, 1Jn 4). God loves us so much He came in the flesh and died for our sins (Jn 1:1-3 & 14, Jn 14:7-11, 2Cor 5:19, Col 2:9, 1Tim 3:16). The Bible is the greatest love letter ever written. Yet the Bible also has a lot to say about hate. Hate can mean hold a grudge, oppose, reject, detest, or love less than another.
There are 21 verses that say evil people hate God. There are 50 verses that say evil people hate God's people. There are 7 verses in the Old Testament that speak about God's people hating evil people. This changed in the New Testament (Mt 5:43-48). There are 18 verses that say God hates sin. There are 21 verses which use the word abomination specifically as to how God detests sin. This may be controversial, but 6 of those verses say God hates the sinner who commits the sin (Ps 11:5, Prov 6:16-19, Jer 12:8, Hos 9:15, Mal 1:3, Rom 9:13). There are 9 verses that call sinners an abomination to God (Deut 18:12, Deut 22:5, Deut 25:16, Prov 3:32, Prov 6:16, Prov 11:20, Prov 12:22, Prov 16:5, Prov 17:15). People like to say God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Although this is not actually a verse in the Bible, there is truth to it. God loves us as His creation, and He demonstrated His love by paying the price for our sins. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Rom 5:8-10)." God is love (1Jn 4:8). Yet God does not love evil because He is holy. Although God does love the sinner in that He desires to be their Savior, we cannot detach ourselves from our behavior. Someone who lies is a liar. He who steals is a thief. Someone who kills is a murderer. Only repentance and obeying the gospel can change that.
Repentance is not an emotion. It is a decision. The Greek word metanoia means to change your mind. Emotion is certainly appropriate and helps the process. Sorrow is important (2Cor 7:10). Hatred is more important, because emotions will fade over time. A decision can last forever. As long as we harbor a fondness for sin in our hearts, it is just a matter of time before it finds its way back in. We need to see sin the way God sees it, and He hates it. God hates sin because it separates us from him (Is 59:1-2), and because it destroys us spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. God has nothing to gain or lose from us (Job 22:2-3). It is us who has to gain or lose. God cannot be in communion with sin, so when we choose sin we choose to separate ourselves from Him. People misunderstand Romans 8:31-39. They think it means sin cannot separate us from God. If that was the case the whole idea of judgment for sin would be invalid. What Paul described is outside influences and circumstances, not our ability to make choices and the accountability that comes with it. No one and no thing can separate us from God, but we can if we choose to.
There are 11 verses that speak about us hating sin (Ps 97:10; Ps 101:3; Ps 119:104, 113, 128, and 163; Prov 8:13; Prov 28:16; Amos 5:15, Rom 7:15, Heb 1:9). When we hate sin, it is not so easy to do it, especially when we hate it for the right reasons. If we only hate the circumstantial consequences of sin, it will not be hard to return to it when the circumstances change. When we hate sin because it offends God and separates us from Him, we are on the right track. Then our view of sin is based on our relationship with God, and not selfishness. Then hate can be of value to us.
Too many people have misdirected hate. They blame God for the deeds of people. They love their sin which is hatred of God (Jn 3:19-21). They hate people because they have been hurt. They hate themselves because they have failures, or because they blame themselves for things they should not. They may not see it this way, but they hate themselves by sinning (Prov 29:24). Misdirected hate is destructive to all who are affected by it. We can overcome hatred of God by realizing He is the only innocent One. He has never sinned against anyone. He is the only One who loves us perfectly, even when our behavior makes us His enemy. We can overcome hatred of others by forgiving them (Mt 5:38-48, Mt 6:12-15, Mt 18). We need to realize that the true enemy of Christians is the devil (Eph 6:12). People cannot destroy a Christian. The most they can do is kill our bodies (Mt 10:28). They cannot destroy our relationship with God or send us to hell. Unforgiveness and hatred of people only binds the hater, not the hated, and the only way to freedom is forgiveness. There are 21 verses that say we should not hate people. We can overcome self-hatred by receiving the forgiveness of God through repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and having God fill our hearts with His Spirit (Acts 2:38). "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Rom 5:5)." We need to direct our hatred to where to belongs - on sin. That is the only way hatred can have value.