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Hate Evil, You who Love the Lord

Hate is a strong word and a strong concept.  It indicates an intense and passionate dislike and hostility toward something or someone.  When directed toward a person, hate implies an utter disdain for that person's deeds, words, or possibly even his life.  Unbridled hatred can be the motive for crimes, for men sometimes violate civil laws as they seek to cause harm to those whom they hate.  In fact, the law now considers crimes that are motivated by hate against categories of people ("hate crimes") to be more grievous than crimes committed for other reasons even when the substance of the crimes is the same. However, hate itself is neither a crime nor a sin when it is directed toward evil deeds, words, and events.

God Himself hates that which is evil.  The Scriptures state that God hates those who do iniquity (Ps. 5:5), those who love violence (Ps. 11:5), vain and false worship (Isa. 1:14; 61:8; Amos 5:21), those who do evil (Hos. 9:15), evil plans (Zech. 8:17), and divorce (Mal. 2:16).  It may at first seem that God's hatred for evildoers is incompatible with His love, for the Scripture also says that God loves the whole world, including sinners (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).  However, there is no inconsistency, for God's love for sinners and His hatred for their sins was demonstrated in one great event, namely, the crucifixion of Christ.  The cross showed God's love for sinners in that He gave Christ as a sacrifice to save them, but it also showed His hatred for sin in that Christ's brutal death on the cross was the necessary atonement for offenses committed against God. Thus, God hates sin and even sinners as they commit sin, but He loves the souls of all sinners and seeks to save them.

As obedient children to our heavenly Father, we should also hate that which God hates.  We are to be holy in the likeness of our Father (1Pet. 1:14-16), and it is His holiness that provokes His hatred of evil.  First and foremost, we should be provoked to hate evil within ourselves, for it works against the holiness that God calls us to attain.  Consider Paul's discussion of the inner conflict within man between good and evil in Romans 7:7-25.  Specifically, Paul was showing that the Law of Moses cannot deliver one from sin, but he also described the general struggle that occurs in each person who seeks to do good.  Notice verses 15 and 19-23:

15For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate...19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.  21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.  22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

This conflict is the battle between the flesh and the spirit, "For the flesh sets its desire against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please" (Gal. 5:17).  Thus, the flesh may love the pleasures of evil, but a Christian's spirit must hate evil and overcome the desires of the flesh.

We must also hate evil in others just as God does. If we see evil as God sees it, then we will know that it destroys those who commit sin.  We should hate evil because it both offends the God whom we love and harms those who are made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27; Isa. 59:2; Rom. 6:23a).  Consider a few verses from the Psalms that express the hate that should be in those who love God:

Psalm 26:5 -- I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 31:6 -- I hate those who regard vain idols, but I trust in the LORD.

Psalm 101:3 -- I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not fasten its grip on me.

Psalm 119:104 -- From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:113 -- I hate those who are double-minded, but I love Your law.

Psalm 119:163 -- I hate and despise falsehood, but I love Your law.

Psalm 139:2 -- Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?  And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

Certainly, God is love, and we cannot know God unless we know love (1John 4:8). However, there is "a time to love and a time to hate" (Eccl. 3:8), and we must know the difference.  God's hate grows out of His love, for He hates for those whom He loves to be destroyed with sin.  Likewise, our hate must derive from our love for God, just as Psalm 97:10 states, "Hate evil, you who love the LORD."  Therefore, let us hate evil, whether it is in ourselves or in others.

Stacey E. Durham



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