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The Hate That God Hates

This entry is part 58 of 63 in the series

"Ten Mangled Words"

Read more posts by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

God does not hate all hate. Some hate is actively encouraged by God. Indeed, if hate exists as the opposite of love, it follows that in many cases we must hate the opposite, or the destroyer, of what we love.

Some hate, however, is condemned by God. In the following verses, hate is the opposite of righteous behaviour:

Consider my enemies, for they are many; And they hate me with cruel hatred (Ps. 25:19)

They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without a cause. (Ps. 109:3)

Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for my love. (Ps. 109:5)

Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins. (Prov. 10:12)

Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool. (Prov. 10:18)

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred. (Prov. 15:17)

Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. (Prov. 26:26)

idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (Gal. 5:20)

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. (Tit. 3:3)

Similar to this negative use of the word hatred is the word translated “malice”:

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:8)

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. (Col. 3:8)

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. (Tit. 3:3)

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, (1 Pet. 2:1)

The problem with sinful hate is not its negative flavour. All hatred is negative, by definition. But if it is the negative form of a good love, then it is not evil. If you love animals, you will hate cruelty to them. If you love creation, you will hate its pollution or destruction. If you love human well-being, you will hate cancer. If you love babies you will (or you should) hate abortion. Hate, like love, cannot be judged in the abstract. Love is only virtuous if its object of its love is worthy. Hatred is only evil if its object is something God loves.

In these verses, malice refers to “a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition, malice, ill-will, malignity” (BDAG).  In other words, malice delights in destruction. It does not hate something that is destructive of the one it loves; it hates another and loves its destruction. God does not delight in destruction for its own sake. “‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'” (Ezek. 18:23)

God’s hatred is always His love acting against those things or people that corrupt, defile or destroy His love.

What sort of hate does God then hate?

We should never hate without cause. “Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; Nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause.” (Ps. 35:19). We know this ugly tendency in our hearts from the earliest age, where we develop a baseless antipathy towards another child, or character on a screen.  Evil is irrational, and does not answer to reasonable explanations. Ask Evil the question, “Why do you hate me so?”, and it will reply, “I just do”. This kind of irrational, blind, and senseless hatred is hated by God.

We should never hate out of personal revenge. “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19) Justice for injuries and evil done to us is a function of human government, not individual vigilantism. On the personal level, we are not to take vengeance on our enemies in our hearts. In fact, we are told to do something both inwardly and outwardly to prevent this. Outwardly, we should meet our enemy’s needs if the situation arises (Rom 12:20). Inwardly, we must avoid all forms of gloating and delighting if our enemy suffers (Prov 24:17-18).

We should never hate what God loves. Included in the things that God loves are: all humans made in His image (John 3:16), the Church (Eph 5:25), the people of Israel (Rom 11:28), righteousness and justice (Ps 33:5), a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7), and the works of His hands. While we may hate distortions, corruptions and perversions in something God loves, we may never hate the thing or idea that God loves.

This leads us to the perplexing question about God’s love: does God truly love the sinner and hate the sin?

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David de Bruyn

About David de Bruyn

David de Bruyn pastors New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minnesota and the University of South Africa (D.Th.). Since 1999, he has presented a weekly radio program that is heard throughout much of central South Africa. He also blogs at Churches Without Chests.

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