Some people hate anchovies. Some people hate to get up early. Some people hate loud music. Of course, it’s just the opposite for others who love anchovies, who love to get up early in the morning, and who love to crank up the music especially when their favorite song is being played. Hate and love, in these situations, are relative.
It’s a different story, however, when hate creates hurt and love is destroyed in human relationships. Hate is a terrible weakness for humans. And it is to be resisted according to Biblical teachings since it has negative consequences.. As it says in Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.”
Human hate is all over the news these days. You don’t have to look very far to see it in the media, politics, Hollywood, or in any other group. And just the fact that hatred plays a major role in crime and violence between co-workers, families, neighbors, and even strangers, shows how serious the problem can be.
As much as human hate is to be avoided, there’s another kind of hate that we could label as “holy.” This is the kind of hate that God has toward things that are considered unholy. For God is a holy God and, therefore, hates those unholy characteristics that fall under the categories of “sin” and “evil.”
In his book, Systematic Theology, the late Dr. Alva Huffer pointed out, “God cannot sin. He can neither approve sin nor tolerate sin. If God were to approve sin, he thereby would cease to be holy.”
God’s holiness is why he hates sin. And it’s why we as Christians want to hate sin, too. For if we truly love God, we will hate sin and the evil it produces. For example, the Bible says,
“Hate evil, you who love the Lord, who preserves the souls of His godly ones; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked,” (Psalm 97:10, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
“A righteous man hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully,” (Proverbs 13:5, NASB).
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate,” (Proverbs 8:13, NASB).
To love the Lord and hate evil means that we are not to approve of actions which God does not approve simply because we love him and he knows what’s best. There are many things that God hates which we should hate, too. Here is an interesting list I found on the web titled, “At least 43 Things That God Hates,” http://www.livingtheway.org/43things.html
You might be somewhat surprised to read about some of the things God hates. Indeed, many of these things God hates are found to be acceptable, or at least tolerable, in today’s permissive society. And so it should not surprise us that the ungodly world hates those who would detest the same things which God detests (John 15:18-25).
If we, as Christians, pursue holiness as we are instructed (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16), then we will develop a holy hate toward the same things God hates. This might sound strange. But when you think about it, it is all based upon our deepest love for God and his righteousness and justice. That is why we strive for moral excellence and purity in our own lives while we sincerely desire this for others, too.
Through Christ, we are able to strive toward such moral excellence and purity. Holy hate toward evil is, therefore, nurtured and developed through the saving grace of God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Through Christ, we are forgiven of our sins. And because we love him and his salvation so deeply, we are committed to live in God’s holiness and perfection while hating sin and evil.
The things we hate as believers in Christ are in correspondence with the love we have of God. So, we may hate evil yet love others in spite of the evil they produce. In First John 4:19-21 it says, “We love, because he first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also,” (NASB).
The fact that love is a command shows we must hate sin which violates God’s commands but, on the same token, love the sinner in obedience to his commands. Our submission toward God keeps hatred toward sin and evil in check with obeying his moral principles. Thus, we do not take matters into our own hands that would violate those principles but allow God’s will to be done.
We must remember, God is the Judge in all matters because his morality is perfect and we aren’t, (Romans 12:17-21). So, to what extent do followers of Christ go when it comes to applying his holy standards requiring us to hate sin and evil?
There was an instance where Jesus spoke of hate in terms of being his disciple. He said something that seems kind of strange if it’s taken out of context. Jesus commented, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sister, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciples. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:26-27, NASB).
Common sense tells us that Jesus wasn’t advocating hate in violation of God’s own command to love. Jesus used hate in this context to strongly point out the extreme urgency of self-sacrifice when it comes to being his true disciple. We must be willing to give up everything—including those we love dearly, and even our own life—if we’re truly committed to serve him. It’s all a part of counting the cost of being his disciple because of our undivided love for him (vss. 28-32). “So,” Jesus says, “therefore, no one of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions,” (v. 33). In other words, Jesus requires total loyalty if we are to follow him.
Only through Jesus can we hate the things that are unholy and love the things that are holy. Christ transforms us and our way of thinking to be like him (Romans 12:2-3; 13:14). As the Apostle Paul urged, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…” (Romans 12:9-10, NASB). And that is how we can have holy hate and holy love.
Good News to YOU!
P.S. Our love for God and hate toward evil is based upon our reverence toward God’s holiness. Here is a worship song by Chris Tomlin, “Holy is the Lord,” that speaks of the joy and strength we receive as we praise him for his holiness: http://youtu.be/coROJgo5mqw