With so much religious, political and social hatred in the world we would be forgiven if we assumed that everyone understood what it is. Today we are expected to love what everyone else considers to be normal, so we are told by church leaders and politicians to love everyone. To reject another person’s lifestyle, theology or politics is held up as being a hate crime. Those who hate homosexuality are declared homophobic and bigots. But from a Biblical point of view we cannot love God without hating certain things, therefore as Christians we must understand what hate is. Of course, we are never to arbour malicious hatred towards anyone. “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9-11). But it is natural to have an aversion for that which is corrupt and perverted. Should not believers hate sin and error? Hate in its correct setting is perfectly acceptable.
The most fundamental truth found in Scripture is that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), nevertheless He does hate certain things. This is not contradictory to His nature, but actually reveals that His love is perfect. How can God be love if He does not hate that which holds sinners in bondage? For instance, He hates idolatry. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods” (Jeremiah 44:2-5). If we are God’s children we too must hate idolatry and false religion. “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).
God even gives us in Proverbs 6:16-19 a list of things He hates; “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Is it wrong therefore for us to hate them too? That old religious saying about loving the sinner but hating the sin is in reality a little way off course, for the Lord hates both the “false witness” and the “lies” he tells. Hatred towards evil and wicked people cannot be separated from hate for their sin. Can we forget that God loved Jacob but hated Esau (Romans 9:13)?
We must hate
As highlighted above, if God hates evil then so ought we too. The psalmist writes, “I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). Here was a man who loved and obeyed God’s word, so if hating wickedness was wrong, he would not have done so. What we believe matters and determines where and how we will spend eternity. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Whatever leads a soul to damnation should be detested by believers. In fact Jesus even commends a church for the hatred. “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate” (Revelation 2:6). If we do not stand up for the truth and against error we will fall for any old lie.
The truth here needs to be restated; we must hate evil no matter what form it takes. “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). All sin is against God no matter how trivial society thinks it is, and as a result is an abomination to Him. It is glorified through parades, the media and fashion. It receives no discipline from those in authority. Christians hate it because of what it does to sinners. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). Why do people sin? Because they have no love for God.
We must never condone sin, but in effect we often do by not condemning it. How often do we keep quiet when a family member or friend does something that is offensive to God? By not saying anything we are showing that we love them more than the Lord. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:34-37). What about sin in our own lives? Do we make excuses for it? Unless we hate it, we are not really disciples of Christ. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Unless we hate everything that takes first place in our lives by dethroning Christ, we show that our love for Him is meagre at best.
So how do we feel about hate now? Is it something that God’s children must never have or is it a requirement for godly living? However hate for others does not mean that we think or act maliciously against them. It does not mean that we seek to belittle or abuse them. We simply hate what they do, say and believe. Yes, we will be condemned by the world and the false church for taking this stance, but remember they hate God and His word anyway. We ought to love the Lord and hate sin. To do things the wrong way around is an offence to God. “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (2 Chronicles 19:2).