Righteous Hate?

Posted: February 21, 2007 in Bible Study, Biblical Topics

Often we hear the familiar bromide that Christianity is love, and that as Christians we should not hate. But what of the many occurrences of the word hate in the New Testament? What do they mean? What (or who) does the Bible say we should Hate?

This can be broken down into two easily discernible lists- things we should hate, and things we should not hate. See, simple thus far.

Clearly the list of things we should NOT hate would involve everything not on the list of things we should hate- as love is a large part of any Christian’s walk. To say it another way, outside of a biblical imperative to hate, a Christian’s walk should display immense amounts of love.

So what should we hate- and what do we mean by hate?

1) False Doctrine– We should have a strong aversion and dislike for false doctrine of ANY kind.

“But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Rev. 2:6.

For those who spread such are to be turned away- not even welcomed into the home. John states that anyone who welcomes (give support to) false teachers “shares” in their wickedness.

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” 2 John: 10-11.

2) The World– This is a VERY fine line we are to walk. For as Jude says:

“Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 1: 22-23.

So while we live in a world of flesh and minister to men and women in need of salvation we must remember not to get caught up in the world itself. For here hatred means an aversion to the sinful aspects of this world- its desires, lusts, and cravings.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

3) Life– There is even a use of the word “hate” in Christ’s commands to us that strikes the reader as hyperbole. For example, when Christs instructs us to:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Luke14:26.

Does Christ mean we must revile our family? That we must burn with anger toward them? Certainly not. Here he is engaging in hyperbole, making a point about our priorities in this life. He is saying that our love for Him MUST be foremost.

What else does scripture say about hate?

Let’s begin with the gold standard.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6: 27-28.

This is one of the hardest commands given by Christ for all of us. How do you love someone who robs you? How do you love someone who beats you? It is only human to want to lash out- to hit him who hits you, to hurt the one who hurt you.

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Titus 3:3

It is clear that such a pattern is not healthy in our physical or spiritual life. In our physical life hate can eat us up inside, raising our blood pressure, leading us to neglect to care for our own bodies. But the results spiritually are even worse. Hate takes our focus from God and puts it on earthly things- when we hate we make idols out of men. They wrongfully steal our focus and our time- time and focus that belong to God.

But why as Christians do we show love toward often brutal enemies and bullies, yet hate the world, false doctrine, and false prophets? Perhaps such comes from Christ’s admonition:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28

When someone abuses us, cheats us, or defrauds us- they cannot kill the spirit. But beware those who offer spiritual fraud, for their company can lead to destruction of the soul. Therefore we love those in the world (as well as our brothers in the body)- even those who mistreat us- but hate the world and its sinful desires, false teachings, and idolatry.

Expect It!

The last part of any discussion of hate must focus on hate as an expected part of a proper Christian walk. Perhaps it could best be posed as a question. Is the world comfortable with you?

“You will be hated by all the world because of My name.” Matthew 24:9

For such a reason all but one of the original disciples died as martyrs throughout the ancient world. But this injunction is not limited to Christ’s original followers, it applies to all believers. Why should the world hate us?

“The world has nothing against you, but it’s up in arms against me. It’s against me because I expose the evil behind its pretensions.” John 7:7 (Message Version).

Think about that. The world doesn’t hate us, its hates Christ. Why? Because the message of salvation involves acceptance by each individual that they are sinful. The world doesn’t want to admits it errors, it doesn’t want to be corrected. Like an obstinate child it either sticks its’ fingers in its’ collective ears and says “LALALALALALA” or it persecutes and hates those who bring the message.

Now think how simple it would be to be accepted by the world- renounce Christ. You can either conform to Christ or conform to the world. However, many Christians seek a third option- seeking to conform Christ to the world’s desires. And I don’t say this in condemnation, but in understanding, it is easy to compromise to gain some security and respect from our friends and neighbors.

But think about what you are compromising. What do you compromise when you give up Genesis? What do you compromise when read your own sinful desires into the bible as acceptable conduct? What do you compromise when you deny the virgin birth, the resurrection? At what point is it even worth calling yourself a Christian?

But Christ tells us NOT to compromise in the face of Hate. In fact he tells us to expect in and persevere AND rejoice! Rejoice?

“What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy!” Luke 6:22-23.

Why should we “leap for joy” when the world hates us? Because, to answer the question posed above, when the world is uncomfortable with us it often means we are delivering an uncompromised Gospel- confronting men with their sin and need for Christ’s offer of salvation. It is easy for the world to love those who say “to each his own” or “whatever works for you,” but if you really believe what your Bible says then you should fight for the salvation of your friends and neighbors. “To each his own” is not compatible with a Christ who says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

What do you think?

  1. Mike Ratliff says:

    I think you are right.

    If the world loves us and our message then that message isn’t the Gospel. It may be a watered-down compromised Gospel, but it isn’t the real deal. Christ’s Good News forces everyone to see their sin and need for a saviour. You are right that most absolutely hate that.

    Good post.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  2. Henry Frueh says:

    Amen. Hate refers to total rejection. So anything that comes between us and our Lord and Savior must be hated or totally rejected.

  3. At the very least it is an aversion to the things of the world.

    We should always be cautious in the world for the “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.

    -J. Kaiser

  4. kclick says:

    Great Post…

    Is there anything more challenging or exciting than being a follower of Christ?

    Keep up the good work, Brother.

  5. […] pray, reaping what we sow, the wisdom of Proverbs, not getting derailed by life’s troubles, righteous hate?, our Christianity (and more), leaving the church, is the world comfortable with you?, becoming a […]

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