God commands us to love Him and each other. Is all sin then a failure to love as we should love, and all hate anathema to love, thus sinful? That is what some believe, but what if this belief is untrue? How are those who believe this untruth harmed? Will God punish people for loving instead of hating?
How Does God Hate?
Almost all who don the mantle of Christianity believe God loves us. Hence, this post, DOES GOD HATE: WHAT IS THE LOGIC OF LOVE?, assumes that God does love us. Assuming God loves us, that post endeavored to show that if God loves us He must also hate whatever might hurt us.
Is God’s hatred like our own? No. His love is pure and perfect. Therefore, His hatred must also be pure and perfect.
The Hebrew word translated “hate” in Psalm 11 is Sänë´ (שֶׂנֵא). It “expresses an emotional attitude toward persons and things which are opposed, detested, despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship.”2 This is not hate out of ignorance or animosity; rather it is a righteous God’s opposition to wickedness. The same idea is communicated by Isaiah against unrepentant Israel, declaring, “I hate [Sänë´] your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isa. 1:14). Solomon, likewise, says, “There are six things which the LORD hates [Sänë´], yes seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Prov. 6:16–19). (from here)
Given that God loves with agape love, a more righteous and noble form of love, when God hates, His hatred must be similarly righteous and noble. Why is this important? Because God is Holy, He knows the difference between good and evil. He embraces good, and He rejects evil. In fact, it angers (righteously) Him when we confuse good and evil.
Isaiah 5:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Definition of Terms
Let’s back up a bit. Often, when we disagree, we do so because we use differing definitions for the same words.
Children of God
Genesis 1 describes how God created everything in six days, and all that God created He declared Good. Genesis 3 describes a change. Man disobeyed God. So for man’s sake, God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17-19). So it is that Romans 8:18- 22 speaks of Creation in bondage to corruption, waiting for deliverance.
When he tempted Eve into disobedience (and Adam listened), Satan introduced Adam and Eve to sin. Yet it is God who cursed His own Creation. Why? It seems God thought it necessary. The following suggests at least one reason why.
Hebrews 12:4-8 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”[a]
7 If[b] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
To chasten His children — us — for our disobedience, God cursed all we know of Creation.
Good and Evil
Some years back I wrote this post, GOD VERSUS SCIENCE? That post reviews a story that compares good and evil with hot and cold. As a noun, that which we call “cold” does not actually exist. However, cold does have meaning as an adjective. If a person, place or thing is cold, that person, place or thing lacks warmth or thermal energy.
Similarly, evil does not exist as a noun, but if we call a person, place, a word, or deed, evil; what does that tell us about that person, place, a word, or deed? What quality of a person, place, a word, or deed do the terms good and evil address?
Let’s go back to the beginning of Genesis.
Genesis 1:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
When God formed Creation, it seems that He added His own qualities to that which He created.
Grace, Mercy, Truth, Justice,….., and Holy Spirit
God is the source of all that is good. Contemplate, for example, the nature of our salvation. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the price for our sins. How? Because Jesus is God, He is full of Grace and Truth. He is Good. He is Holy. Jesus saved us because He loves us, but He saved us out of an abundance of a different virtue, that quality we call Grace.
Biblically, grace is unmerited favor. It is God‘s free action for the benefit of His people. It is different from justice and mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. In grace we get eternal life, something that, quite obviously, we do not deserve, but because of God’s love and kindness manifested in Jesus on the Cross, we receive the great blessing of redemption. (from here)
What we call goodness then is a measure of the extent to which a person, place, a word, or deed exhibits the qualities of God, especially Grace.
On the other hand, we call Satan evil. What is that saying? Because Satan has rejected God, Satan exhibits none of God’s qualities. Therefore, Satan remains a creature of God, but Satan is a creature without any virtue such as Grace, Mercy, Truth, Justice… .
Love and Hate
The Bible says God created us for His own Glory. How does God exhibit His Glory? One way is with Grace and Mercy. With Grace and Mercy, He bestows His blessings upon those He loves. We in turn show our gratitude by imitating the example of our Creator. When we practice Grace and Mercy towards each other, we give Glory to God.
When we love a someone as God loves, we will love that person because we see something of God’s qualities (i.e., Good) in that person. We will try to demonstrate our love out of the Grace God has given us. We will devote a portion of our energies to the welfare of that person. We will do our best to bestow a portion of the blessings that God has given us upon that person.
If we hate a person, a place, or a man’s words and deeds as God hates; we will show our abhorrence for whatever is destructive (i.e., Evil) of God’s qualities in our fellow human beings. We will not follow the example of an evildoer. Instead, we will condemn their conduct. Nevertheless, if we can we will try to redeem those who do evil (and that to some extent all of us) by bestowing a portion of the blessings that God has given us upon them.
Sometimes even those who hate us can be brought to repentance. As Proverbs teaches.
Proverbs 25:21-22 New King James Version (NKJV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.
Yet Jesus cautioned we must act with wisdom. As He told us in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine.”
Like Satan, there are people who reject God’s Grace and Mercy. These will reject our love, our gifts of Grace and Mercy, and just take what they want. These will try to destroy or enslave us.
Unfortunately, to varying degrees, we all reject God. We each fight surrendering our pride and humbling ourselves before God. What happens when we keep our pride, reject God? The more we reject God’s Grace and Mercy, the less Grace we have, the more unmerciful we are, the more evil become our words and deeds. When we love only our self — when we refuse Grace and Mercy to others — these qualities cease to exist within us.
Therefore, we have a puzzle. Who and what should we love? Who and what should we hate? When is it actually more appropriate to hate than it is to love?
What then is that thing we call sin? To sin is to reject God, to reject His authority and the qualities that He instilled within us when He made us in His image. That includes His moral law.
Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature (page 210 of Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem).
Consider again Genesis 3. Eating the forbidden fruit seems like a trivial sin. You might compare it to two silly children stealing from God’s pumpkin patch. It is too easy to forget that it is God who told Adam he must not eat of the forbidden fruit. It is too easy to overlook the fact God told Adam the consequences for disobedience.
How can we understand what it means when we say Adam and Eve pridefully put their own wills ahead of the Will of God? Because God is beyond our understanding, we cannot grasp the difference between our will and God’s Will. All we really know is that with their sin Adam and Eve lost eternity. They were doomed to die.
Imagine telling your small child to stay away from a hot stove. What if that child has never touched something burning hot before? How obedient is that child likely to be?
Because we are naturally willful, we must discipline our children. Because we are naturally willful, God must discipline us. And He does.
To Be Continued: Part 2 will be posted on the evening of February 23, 2016