The Necessity of Hate
One of the most dangerous lies Satan is currently spewing is that there must be no hatred anywhere. All men must accept and embrace all other men, regardless of the way they live and the gods they worship. Satan is the father of lies, and this is a most pleasing and alluring lie. He is at his best when he can turn a virtue, such as love, to evil purposes.
Hate, rightly understood, is necessary. God established it as the operative dynamic in history between himself and Satan, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. In Genesis 3:15, the famous “I will put enmity” declaration, enmity, ‘eybah, stands first in the Hebrew sentence and receives chief emphasis. The next word is “I,” God. As a result of man’s rebellion, man sided against God with the greater hater of God and of men: the devil. God graciously intervened to do what Adam was to do but failed to do. He established enmity or hate between righteousness and evil.
History unfolds God’s enmity, and its prevailing counterpart in God’s love. It played out early in Satan’s seed, beginning with Cain. Murder, idolatry, and prayerlessness characterized this line, culminating in the worldwide Flood. This line made war against those who called upon the name of the Lord, beginning with Seth’s seed Enos. At one level, God brought the Flood to reassert his dominion and his hatred of wickedness. At a lower level, Satan agitated the wickedness of men in order to bring about their ruin. He was a murderer from the beginning, and we might from one perspective speak of the Flood as his greatest mass murder in history.
Through Abraham and his line alone, God gave his covenant and truth. They were the only preservers of God’s enmity against evil. Once formed into God’s holy nation, Israel was called to continual warfare against God’s enemies. They were his arm of judgment. This is the reason for his commanded of the Canaanite nations. We must not apologize for God or for Israel. This was the execution of God’s enmity against those who live in rebellion against him. It is not surprising that Satan has used this God-ordained crusade against evil as one of the leading planks against the Old Testament’s validity and authority. Then, God’s whole battle can be called into question. How could this be from a loving God? It was from the God of enmity against evil, the God who loves righteousness.
Throughout Israel’s subsequent history, its kings were called to continue this war, which they failed to do. Thus, the prophets, especially Isaiah and Jeremiah speak of Israel was becoming an enemy of God, even calling its leaders “rulers of Sodom” (Isa. 1:10). As a result of their unfaithfulness, God raised up his unbelieving enemies to attack and finally destroy and exile his people. God will have his war against evil carried forward.
In these same prophets, another dynamic began to be revealed more clearly. God would eventually save his enemies, both Israel’s remnant and the Gentiles (see Isaiah 26). This was nothing new, for it had been revealed to Abraham (Gen. 12:3). God planned from the beginning to deal with evil not primarily through force of arms but through the power of his love.
He sent his Son. He took all our evils upon himself. He became sin for us. He became as our substitute the “enmity” and was judged in our place. All the wrath and judgment of God against his people was thus poured out upon him – not that he was the personal object of the Father’s hatred, for he was ever the Father’s delight. Yet, as our Mediator, and this should make the hair on our neck stand up, he took the sword of God’s justice into his own holy breast. God thus destroyed evil and Satan’s works of evil by the condescending, obedient love of his Son.
His redeeming love and resurrection reign intensifies our joyful obligation to go to war against evil. This is much more personal in the New than in the Old Testament, though we regularly encounter in its holy lines declarations such as, “All you that love the Lord, hate evil” (Ps. 97:10). Throughout Deuteronomy, our great incentive to hate sin and obey God is love for him. Hatred is therefore the necessary counterpart of love. If we love God, we must hate evil.
The weapons of our warfare, summarized in Ephesians 6:10-18, are therefore most necessary for us to take up. God’s hatred of sin is real and terrible. Look at the cross. He delivered us from evil through his Son. To make peace with sin is to declare war against the cross. It is to side with the devil. While there must be no hatred in our hearts that is prompted by anger or jealousy or simply meanness, there must be hatred against the sin in our lives and in the world. Zeal for God demands for it. Submission to his original declaration demands it. The continued marauding and malice of Satan demands it. He hates God, Christ, and the Church (Rev. 12:17). Jesus Christ destroyed his works, exposed his lies, and pillaged his kingdom so that filled with his Spirit and fully armed, we may war against sin, against that which God hates, against the evil for which our Savior was put to such agony in order to deliver us.
But the dynamic of love must be brought to the forefront. God’s fighting army against sin is chiefly motivated by love for him and for men. We are called to love our enemies, pray for them, and do them good. This is to be like our Father (Matt. 5:45). Through the lenses of the cross, God’s love for the world of rebels shines forth beautifully and powerfully (John 3:16). He might have justly destroyed the entire world; he might justly have destroyed us. We were once enmity against him (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:16). We have been broken and humbled and redeemed by his love to those who hate him. He has put away our sins and satisfied his justice against us through his Son. Humility, zeal for his honor, and diligence in sharing his word of love are his war plans for us.
Two dynamics are therefore at work in history and in us. God’s hatred against sin has been fully revealed at the cross. He carried his war to the utter extremity of crucifying his beloved Son in order to make an end of transgression and redeem the perishing. Never for one moment should we doubt that God exercises a continual war against the world of ungodly men. Our Savior will not fail to win this war (Isa. 42:4). We see his trenches set up throughout our land, against all the Baal worshipping and global statism and perversity in our day. These weapons against him are not prospering but destroying the men who embrace them.
His sword is the word coming out his mouth, his gospel of grace and love. We go to war not with weapons of the flesh (2 Cor. 10:5) – personal wrath, cynicism, and coldness toward the lost. We are grieved and rightly incensed by the rebellion of our age, the perversion that Satan has weaponized into a virtue, his abuse of “love” to mean “let me do whatever I want without any judgment from anyone else.” This is pure evil. It is a lie. It is Satan. It cannot be overcome except by the sword of Jesus’ mouth. His gospel sword must be plunged into the heart of rebels so that their sins are led away captive by the One who led captivity captive by himself being bound and carried away and executed. He will prevail.
We must not be mushy-minded. Satan is deceiving many. It is astounding that many professing Christians are confused by what they see happening. They forget Genesis 3:15. God is at war. They forget that there is a real battle between light and darkness, Christ and Satan, daily obedience and daily rebellion in the hearts of everyone. Only those who have subdued by Christ can understand this. And if we do, we shall not shy away from declaring God’s war against evil and God’s victory at the cross.
Thus, we must hate – all that is opposed to God, all the sins in our lives, and all the insults given to the King of kings. We must hate evil so much that we pray ardently for God’s promises to be realized and the nations to flock to the only Savior from evil. We must hate evil so much that we love Jesus, fight against our sins with the armor he gives us, and go everywhere speaking his word of deliverance. We must not be deceived by Satan’s normalization of evil or grow comfortable with it. God has established enmity, and we cannot truly love if we do not deeply hate.
This is dangerous for us. We are weak and lazy. Often we must return to Calvary and see to what end our Savior came because of our evil. This will humble and keep us mindful of our deliverance only through his sufferings. Where our heart attitudes toward wicked men are not tempered by God’s mercy in Christ, we are not really waging God’s war. Hatred without love is lazy man’s religion; it is a false religion. True, righteous enmity leads us to Jesus. It is the way God saved the world from evil. He is saving it. He is the conqueror of evil, the Captain of our salvation, the lover of our souls.