Do you have any words you outlaw in your home? Perhaps you forbid words such as “shut up” or “stupid.” One of the words I limit in our house is the word “hate.” I can’t say that I hate the word because I think it’s a powerful word that should be used properly. It should be reserved for serious things. When we say we hate something, we make a judgment saying “This is bad. It’s wrong. I loathe this thing so much; I wish it didn’t exist.” Therefore, I don’t want to hear my kids saying, “I hate peas” “I hate homework” or “I hate making my bed.” With that said, there are times when I permit the word “hate”: when referring to things like sin and evil.
Hating Sin and Evil
Here are some of the things I think are worthy of the word “hate”:
I hate the Fall of Man. I hate sin. I hate the impact of sin and death in humanity and in creation.
I hate seeing friend’s marriages end in divorce.
I hate the brokenness friends endure from past abuse. I hate the memories that haunt them. I hate how it has marked and changed their life.
I hate how I constantly fall back into old sinful habits of relating, of thinking, of speaking.
I hate how the Body is often fractured, bruised, and stunted by miscommunication, false teachers, bad theology, and the desire to look more like the world.
I hate how precious lives are taken from the womb before they can draw their first breath.
I hate how my heart forgets God’s grace and is so easily prone to self-righteousness, self-reliance, and self-exaltation.
I hate how we all fail to honor God and give him the glory he is due.
Why Hate is Necessary
While hate is a strong word, it is a necessary word. It is necessary to speak the truth about what is evil. We need to use it to think about, talk about, and act against sin. In doing so, it will help us see sin for what it is: an affront against a holy, perfect, and righteous God. Hating sin helps us take it seriously. It helps us put it in its proper place. When we hate sin, it moves us fight against it, to be alert for its work in our lives, and to put it to death. The opposite of hate is love, and if we don’t hate sin and treat it as evil, we will grow to love it.
Hating sin and evil is also important because the more we grow in our loathing for it, the more we will appreciate the gospel of grace. Only when things are the darkest do we appreciate the light. When Isaiah stood before the holiness of God and saw him in all his wonder and might, he saw himself in contrast. He realized he was not worthy and responded, “Woe is me!” As we face the truth of sin and realize the depths of humanity’s depravity apart from Christ, we can’t help but be struck at the amazing grace of God that he would love us, send his son to die for us, redeem us, and transform us—we should all fall on our knees and sing the words in Paul’s doxology, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!… For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33, 36).
In hating sin, we become lovers of the gospel.
No Fear in Hate
Sometimes we can grow fearful of the things we hate. We see this all the time in how fallen mankind treats one another. But when it comes to sin and evil, we don’t have to fear what we hate. That’s because God hates sin and evil even more than we do (Isaiah 61:8, Psalm 5:4, Proverbs 6, Zechariah 8:17). In fact, God had every reason to put an end to the entire human race. But instead, he entered the misery of this world, took on frail human flesh, and lived among us. He faced the horrors, sorrows, and temptations of this world yet never once sinned. He lived the life we could not live. And on the cross, he was made sin so that we could be made righteous. As Tim Keller wrote, “God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.”1
This truth gives me great comfort. It gives me hope when I encounter all the things on my list above. Because I can’t imagine facing a single one of the above circumstances without an understanding of the gospel and God’s work of redemption in me and in the world. I can’t imagine going through a trial without the knowledge that God is not at work in it. I can’t imagine seeing abuse, disease, and death without the hope that God’s story is not over. I can’t imagine living in this fallen world without the knowledge and presence of God. I can’t imagine enduring suffering without the assurance of salvation and the hope of eternity.
We all should hate sin and evil. But even as we hate it, we have no reason to fear. God has answered the problem of evil by crushing his own Son. And one day, the Son will return to restore this world and make all things new. On that day, the word “hate” will cease to exist from our vocabulary altogether.
- Keller, Timothy. Reason for God p. 30.