God is a loving creator and ruler. As Believers, that is central to our desire to follow him. It’s something the Bible tells us pretty specifically.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. - 1 John 4:16-18God is the source of love and we are instructed to follow his example and also be loving. That being the case, the idea that God can hate may seem like a contradiction. However, under careful consideration, most Believers should find that there is no conflict in this revelation. After all, we all understand that God hates sin. We’ve all heard the saying “God hates the sin not the sinner.” That sounds nice, but is it really true? Does God really not hate sinners?
Like most popular sayings attributed to the Bible, that saying is not actually Biblical and is not completely faithful to what the Bible says. What some might find to be an unfortunate truth is that God actually does hate sinners. The Bible tells us so. Proverbs 6:16-19 says:
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.This set of verses is written in an interesting way. It draws a distinction between what God hates and what he finds detestable. Most of us would probably believe those feelings to be the same thing. The other somewhat odd thing about the verse is that it doesn’t specifically state which of the seven things named is simply something God finds detestable and not something he flat out hates. So, there is some ambiguity there. Five of the things listed are the body parts that are used to commit certain sins. One may argue that in those cases, the Bible is speaking symbolically and is talking more about the tendency to commit certain sins or the mechanism behind what causes us to sin. However, two of the things named are more specifically called out to be types of people - those that lie and falsely accuse others of wrongdoing and those who cause discord within communities. We know based on the numbers given, God finds both of those types of people to be detestable. However, we also have to acknowledge that God also hates at least one of those types of people.
Some may look at that set of verses and say the meaning seems a bit unclear. Maybe there is some room for interpretation there, but other verses are more clear.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. - Psalms 5:4-6
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. - Proverbs 16-5In the Psalms verse, David is clearly proclaiming that God hates everyone who sins, and both verses repeat the theme that God particularly despises violent, dishonest and proud people. So where does this put us with God? We all sin from time to time. Does God hate all of us? Not exactly. Notice that all of the above verses come from the Old Testament, the part of the Bible the precedes a very important series of events - the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
At that time, sin separated humanity from God. God held wrath towards us and our relationship with Him was anything but friendly.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! - Romans 5:10Paul is telling us that, at one point, God viewed us as enemies because of our sin. Is it so surprising to think that he may have hated those that indulged in sin? Most people understand what an enemy is, and most can understand the feeling of hate one might feel towards his or her enemies. That said, we have to be careful when equating God’s feelings to ours. Yes, the Bible tells us that God hated sinful human beings. Still, there is a silver lining. The Old Testament tells one story after another about how the Children of Israel indulged in wrongdoing, yet God was always with them. Even if he hated the evildoers, he never fully abandoned them. And yes, all of us humans are born in sin, and that makes us God’s enemies, but instead of just being done with us, he devised a plan to save us that involved the sacrifice of his Son.
You see God’s hate isn’t like ours. No matter what negative feelings he had towards us, he couldn’t help but want the best for us and do the best for us. That’s love. Even when hating, God loves. What if we were like that? People will always rub each other the wrong way from time to time. We will always fall short not only in how we live according to God’s wishes but also in how we interact with each other. We will get mad with each other, and honestly, depending on what happens, we may even come to hate others. But will we have the typical human hatred where we want nothing but the worst for those that we oppose, or will we hate like God and use our negative feelings to open up an opportunity to save? That’s a question that each of us has to answer for ourselves. However, before we even get there, we have to make sure that we truly accept salvation, the gift that God gave us. He gave us a way to escape his hatred and go from being his enemies to his beloved children. Make sure you’re on the right side of that, and do your best to help others get there too. If God’s love is unbelievable in its greatness, what must his hatred be like? It’s best not to find out.