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Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., explains how the true God, who is love, can also discuss his hatred of evil.
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. (Psalm 5:4–5)
Today’s big question: does God hate anyone?
If you start sharing with someone about how much God loves him or her, chances are you’ll be reasonably well received. People enjoy hearing about the love of God. After all, we naturally love ourselves (Ephesians 5:29), and it’s pleasing to know we are loved by someone else—especially learning that God loves us. It’s easy to focus the message we share around God’s love, rather than delving into other more difficult aspects of God’s character.
However, the true gospel is much more than just “Jesus loves you.” God’s love for us means very little unless we first understand our broken condition as sinners before a holy God. As we see in today’s passage, evil cannot dwell with God. He is holy, and He loves righteousness (Psalm 11:17). The Lord is not a God of hate, as Scripture tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). However, God is also perfectly true, righteous, and holy; therefore, He must hate evil, which is the opposite of everything God is.
You may have heard that “God hates sin but loves the sinner.” People who use this phrase generally mean well, but it is an oversimplification of the truth and leads to misunderstanding. God does love sinners, as numerous passages clearly state (e.g., John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). Yet we also read verses like Psalm 5:5, which state that God hates not only wicked deeds, but also the people who do them. John 3:17 tells us that anyone who has not repented and received Christ stands condemned already under the holy anger of God against sin. Although He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:10), the Lord must and will judge sinners, which includes everyone since all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
Hopefully you can see how it is the hatred of God against our sin that makes His love toward us so incredibly spectacular. God has provided a way of salvation from sin and condemnation through His Son Jesus Christ, whom He gave to die in our place because of His amazing love.
It’s important to realize that sin is not something to be played with. Like David, we ought to “hate the work of those who fall away” (Psalm 101:3). Sin is filthy to God and should disgust us. If you consider yourself a Christian but you are still fascinated by evil things, take time right now and search your heart in light of God’s holiness.
Today’s big idea: when we understand God’s hatred of sin, we can better appreciate His love for sinners.
What to pray: praise God for loving you in spite of your sin, and ask Him to help you hate sin.