Christian Pilgrim


Christian Hatred

Most people would find the title of this short article an oxymoron, i.e. a figure of speech with a seeming contradiction in it. Christians, they say, should not hate at all, but love everyone, unconditionally, all the time - as God (supposedly) does. But is this really so? As we look closer into things, we find that this is not at all the correct response, because we find that God hates certain things, indeed certain people, and that to all eternity:

"The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth." (Psalm 11:5)

"And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones." (Isaiah 30:30)

"Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever." (Malachi 1:4)

If the Christian is someone who is theoretically growing in the faith in order to become more and more like Christ, then should he not also be growing in the grace of godly hatred as well as all the other things?

A common, almost universal, belief in the church today is the idea that God has some kind of love for all men everywhere. Yet hatred is often spoken of as being split into three distinct kinds: "malevolent hatred," "priority hatred," and "judicial hatred."

"Malevolent hatred" is that hatred which Cain showed toward Abel by murdering him, and a kind that God cannot possibly have in Himself. This "malevolent hatred" is simply hatred in which the wrong object is hated. Cain's evil was that he killed a man because that man performed a righteous act, i.e. Cain hated the wrong object, namely Abel. Of course God can never have this hatred within Himself because He never hates the wrong thing. But that does not mean to say that God never hates anything. God hates, but He only ever hates that which is hateful, namely the wicked walking in their wickedness. Incidentally, Cain also took vengeance into his own hands, which is also wrong (Romans 12:19). It is for God alone to repay the wicked fully, although in this world, for the punishment of evildoers and the good of society in general, He has vested the civil magistrate with the power of the sword (Romans 13:1-5).

"Priority hatred," is what we are supposed to show when Christ says we should hate father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and life (Luke 14:26). This, God is supposed to have had when He blessed Ishmael but showed "priority" for Isaac. But this idea of "priority hatred" is totally wrong. If our father, mother, wife, children, brothers etc. are wicked, i.e. unbelievers, they are therefore rightful objects of hatred, and we must truly hate them whilst they are in that state just as we must hate all the wicked. A common belief is that the word "hate" here means "love less," but this is not so and twists Scripture. Of course we can lawfully pray for their salvation and pray that they may be brought into the light of the truth of God, but as long as they are in such a state we must hate them and their ways. We must hasten to add that this does not mean we should be nasty to them in any way. Nastiness is not hatred. Rather, we should rightly resist going along with their wickedness and indeed we should rebuke their sinful ways. If people call that hatred, and call us hateful for believing such, then so be it. They are wrong. As long as we are not nasty or vindictive in any way towards anyone, we must stick by the way that right is, even if it means losing all our family and friends (for the kingdom's sake).

"Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it." (Jeremiah 12:8)

Following on from this, we must also hate our own selves, not because flesh is hateful in and of itself, but rather, every sin we commit in thought and word and deed we must hate. It is right to hate sin. Since the fall, our very natures are sin, so we should hate ourselves for our very wretchedness. This is a far cry from modern psychology that says we ought to have a sense of "self-worth" and "self-esteem."

Needless to say, God can never have this "priority hatred" in Himself, because "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34), and judges all men equally. He may indeed "bless" reprobate men such as Ishmael for a time by giving them plenty in this world, but He knows that they would not be thankful and misuse His "blessings," so He justly judges them for their sins.

Thirdly, "judicial hatred" is that which a judge exercises when, for example, he hands a criminal over for execution. This is the hatred that God has, but it is always described as a reluctant punishment whereby, against the nature of the judge (in this case, God), he has to condemn and send someone to punishment (in this case, hell fire) when he doesn't really want to. This makes God utterly pathetic. If we love righteousness and hate sin, as God does (except that He does it perfectly and we do not), we will be glad when the wicked are cast into hell. Only, I hasten to add, because it is just and righteous punishment for their totally depraved natures. If the punishment was not just, i.e. if it were too little or too much punishment, it would be a terrible thing, and God would be a monster to punish a man unjustly in that way. But God is just, perfectly just, and that is why we must have no time for the idea that God reluctantly punishes anyone. He justly punishes the wicked with exactly the right punishment to fit the crime, so we must rejoice in such punishment, as God himself indeed does.

"And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it." (Deuteronomy 28:63)

"Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall. And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation." (Psalm 35:8,9)

"O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." (Psalm 137:8,9)

The "god," and "christ," preached today in just about all of the visible "Christian" churches in the world today, is a god (who is no god) who loves all men. This view ranges, on the one hand, from a denial of the biblical doctrine of hell altogether. "How can a god of love send anyone to a place like hell?" they would say. Or on the other hand, there are those who recognise that if they want to be Biblical they cannot get away from the doctrine of hell (as it is so clearly taught by Christ in plain, simple words that cannot be mistaken), but they distort the truth in portraying God as being reluctant to send anyone there at all; i.e. that God has got to send some people to hell in His justice, but He doesn't want to do so.

Both of these views are totally mistaken. If the first view is true, Christ's plain teachings in Scripture about hell are being ignored and there would be no justice in God with all the wicked getting away with their wickedness. If the second view is correct, God would be eternally frustrated that people are in hell. God cannot be frustrated, otherwise he would not be God.

"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

"My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10)

By far the main reason why people find the doctrine of hell unpalatable is because they cannot believe that it is a just punishment for the sins of men. "Most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell-fire for ever" (Westminster Larger Catechism Q.29) and for not a second less, is a doctrine quite offensive to most people because they cannot come to believe that any man, apart maybe from a few like Adolf Hitler, really deserves such punishment, particularly for eternity. However we cannot escape the simple teachings of Christ e.g.:

"And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:45,46)

"But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." (Luke 12:5)

"And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." (Luke 16:23)

Christ teaches that hell, with its eternal torments, is a real place. How then can man deserve such a dreadful punishment? After all, most men are not that bad, are they? People would rather invent doctrines such as purgatory, where men are punished for a time but not forever, rather than believe in a place of eternal torment where all men deserve to go. This whole attitude is wrong because it exalts man far too highly. Man is indeed that bad. This is the doctrine of total depravity. The Bible is clear about the state of man since the fall of Adam:

"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." (Genesis 6:5,6)

The whole reason God brought the flood on Noah's world was that man was utterly depraved. And the flood did not change a thing:

"I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth;..." (Genesis 8:21)

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." (Jeremiah 13:23)

The doctrine of "total depravity" is the one truth that man will do anything to disbelieve about himself. Indeed he cannot believe it, without the Holy Spirit bringing to a man the knowledge of his own sin and his own natural state before God.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Psalm 51:5)

If the doctrine of "total depravity" is true, then man has a nature that is totally depraved and he cannot help but sin, in which case the doctrine of hell makes perfect sense. It will seem too harsh a punishment only if we have an exalted view of the human condition.

Therefore, eternal punishment in hell is a beautiful doctrine because, and only because, it is justly deserved, or merited, by our totally depraved natures. We will, and God does, joy in the doctrine of hell rather than wince at it, knowing that those who go there will only ever be those who deserve to be there. If we do not rejoice in the doctrine of hell, then we are saying effectively that God has got it wrong.

We must also thank God of course that he has chosen some from eternity to display his mercy rather than his justice, by graciously saving them from such a place as hell, where they deserve to go. All men will glorify either God's mercy or God's justice in eternity. The elect should therefore be humbled to the dust, because they know that but for the grace of God, they would be in hell with all the others. If anyone claiming to be a Christian is not humbled to the dust in this way, we must seriously doubt their salvation. Our attitude at all times must be that if we did end up in hell after all, then we would know it would be perfect justice and we would not have any reason to complain against God. Indeed, we would still be saying:

"Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." (Revelation 16:7)

But, the objection goes, are we not being too "hard" and "unloving" when we say that we should rejoice in the doctrine of hell? Should we not be saddened by the fact that people are going there? Not at all. If we did have pangs of sadness at anyone going to hell, then we would be forever miserable in heaven. This cannot be, because we are promised that there will be no more tears there. Heaven will be a place where we will be perfectly satisfied with the justice of God, just as we are not satisfied with all the injustice the wicked perpetrate in this world at present, where they seem to get away with it all. We know that God will judge all men justly and we joy in that, and are not saddened by it at all.

"For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies." (Jeremiah 16:5)

As an example, I heard a well-respected "Christian" author and ex-missionary, tell the following story once at a meeting. She said that on Judgment Day, those who never heard the gospel will be going into hell, and as they descend, they will be turning around at those going into heaven shouting "Why didn't you tell us about Jesus?!" This is blasphemy. According to this theory, those going to hell will be under the impression that it is the fault of those in heaven that they going to hell (for not telling them the gospel), and those going to heaven, presumably, will be eternally miserable because they think it was their fault that they did not tell the people going to hell the gospel! The truth is exactly the opposite. Those in hell will be in eternal torment, and everyone will know it will be a just punishment for their sins, just as everyone will know the eternal bliss of those in heaven will be all of grace.

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10,11)

People find it difficult to believe that God can be so "unfeeling" towards the wicked, but he is not being "unfeeling" at all. Firstly, in any case, God is not "of like passions" as we are (Acts 14:15). Secondly, again, the problem is that, because of our arrogance, we find it difficult to see the human condition from God's perspective. Thirdly, people have ingrained into them that there is a love of God for all men, which is simply not true. Nowhere in the Bible does it say this, yet such is taught from almost every pulpit these days. However, it is noteworthy that people who believe this, always find it awkward to talk about hell. They hardly ever think of (let alone read) the imprecatory psalms, the judicial law, and the slaughters that God commanded in the Old Testament for example. These are "embarrassments" to them. Most of these people tend to jettison most of the Old Testament anyway, saying it was for the Israelites at the time but not for us in this "enlightened" gospel age. They do not realise that it was, and still is, God's Word and therefore perfect, just and good.

If we say, as we are doing, that we rejoice in hell, then we are compared to fundamentalists of other religions such as Islam. However the hatred that some mullahs whip up in Islam is an unjust hatred, i.e. a hatred that hates the wrong objects (i.e. non-muslims). God's hatred is perfectly just and clean, always hating that which is hateful, i.e. that which is against His holy law, and nothing else. This is the only type of hatred that we should have. There is no excuse at all for hating the wrong object. That is truly sin.

Some people say that God "hates the sin but loves the sinner." This cannot possibly be true. It is like saying, for example, "I hate the sound of a trumpet but love trumpets." It is nonsense, because the sole purpose of a trumpet's existence is to make that one distinctive sound. So if I hate the sound it makes, I must hate the object because it is good for nothing else. Similarly with God. He hates the sin and therefore justly hates the sinner too, because all the sinner can do is sin, it is his only function, he is good for nothing else. Therefore he must be hated and punished justly for it, unless God has elected him unto salvation to the praise of His glorious mercy.

But are we not to weep over the lost, after all, Jeremiah lamented over Jerusalem and Christ Himself wept over it? Are we not to have a "burden for souls" or a "compassion for the lost?" It is a popular misconception that Jeremiah and Christ were weeping over the lost going to hell in these examples. This is not so. They were weeping over the state of Jerusalem, i.e. the visible church, and the fact that truth had been corrupted and God's glory was no longer displayed in it.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37)

Christ does not want to gather the whole of Jerusalem, as this verse is popularly misquoted as saying. Rather it is Jerusalem's children who are the object of His gathering, i.e. the elect within the visible church, whom He does indeed effectually call and save. He does not want to save Jerusalem (i.e. the visible church) itself as an institution, which had been completely taken over by hypocrites who "would not." Although apostasy in the visible church is all under God's providential control, which we should always rejoice in (1 Thessalonians 5:16), nevertheless it is also right to love truth and righteousness. We therefore never despair, but we still mourn whenever we see truth and righteousness cast to the ground and God's honour being usurped by men, especially in the visible church that outwardly has His name.

"Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law." (Psalm 119:136)

In fact in some places in Scripture, God rebukes those who weep for the lost:

"Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin...; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." (Exodus 32:32,33)

"And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head." (Ezekiel 9:8-10)

"And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel? Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 11:13-15, 21)

In some places we are commanded not to pray for them:

"And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?....And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins." (Numbers 16:22,26)

"Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee." (Jeremiah 7:16)

"Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble." (Jeremiah 11:14)

"Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good." (Jeremiah 14:11)

But are we not commanded to "love our enemies"? Of course we should. There are three reasons for this:

(1.) We do not know who amongst our enemies are elect, God does. The fact that there are elect and reprobate is a revealed truth:

"What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory," (Romans 9:22,23)

Who they are is one of the secret things of God that we are not told. So we are commanded to "love our enemies." This involves outward acts. It does not involve being like them, thinking like them etc. This would not be "love" at all. We must see to their outward welfare, just as Jesus did whilst on earth, healing and feeding many more people than were elect, and also just as God does when He gives all men, elect and reprobate alike, rain and sunshine, health and all things for life on this earth:

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:44,45)

But this "love" is completely different from any kind of "love" that wants them to be saved. God cannot possibly think this way towards the reprobate without desiring something that He does not will to come to pass. This would result in a frustrated God, which cannot be. Here we have two definitions of "love," one is a general compassion for all men, and the other, that love which God has for His elect and them only.

The "love" with which we are to "love our enemies," is in an outward expression of care for the outward estate of others. The Bible tends to call this "compassion." This is not to be confused with true electing "love." "Compassion" is a caring for the outward estate of others, which we are all called to do in the eighth commandment:

"Q. 74. What is required in the eighth commandment ?
A. The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.

Q. 75. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment ?
A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbour's wealth or outward estate.
(Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Christ did this in the feeding of the five thousand for example. This does not mean He wanted them all to be saved, but He had "compassion" on them in that He looked after their outward estate. The fact He did this miraculously was a sign that He was the Messiah, a fact that most of the people did not care about - all they cared about was being fed (John 6:26). We are called to follow Christ in showing this sort of "compassion" to all men. As it is not true electing love, we need to distinguish between the two, so it is probably better not to call this "love" at all but rather "doing good" or "showing compassion." To call it "love" just confuses such activity with true love. However, Christ does use the word "love" for this type of activity when He commands us to "love our enemies." In this, we are called to be good to them, show compassion, looking after their outward estate as best we can. We trust in God to either save them, if they are one of His elect, or damn them if they are not, but we should be glad whatever God does with them, not miserable if, for example, God should send them to hell. We ought to know from our own hearts what "total depravity" is, and we should be content that those that are damned to hell have been punished justly. Indeed we should fear God and be ever thankful that we will not suffer such an end as they because God has chosen us from the foundation of the world.

(2.) So really when Christ tells us to "love our enemies," He is not telling us to never hate anyone, which is what so many people think He is saying. It is right to hate someone who is justly hateful. When we are called to "love our enemies," it means we must never do any harm to anyone. In other words, we should leave vengeance to God:

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19-21)

So this "doing good" or "showing compassion" is the opposite of "being nasty" or "doing harm," not the opposite of "hatred." We should still rightly hate them because their deeds are evil:

"The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." (John 7:7)

If we started trying to take vengeance on anyone ourselves, we would either be unjust or end up hating the wrong object. God knows everyone's hearts, we do not. So it is God that should be the only one to take vengeance because He alone can judge justly, we cannot.

"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22)

Note here that we are only in danger of the judgment if we are angry with our brother without a cause. Therefore if we are angry with him with a cause then that is just and good and right and true.

(3.) Another reason we are told to "love our enemies" is because we have a "hard" gospel message in the world's eyes, and we are never to let it seem that we ourselves are hard or uncompassionate in our practice of the truth. The only offence we give should be the offence of the cross (Galatians 5:11), and never our hardness or unfeeling attitude towards anyone in this world.

To summarise, we must do good to all: (1.) because we do not know who the elect are, (2.) because we trust in God to have vengeance on our enemies and we are never to take vengeance into our own hands, and (3.) so that the only offence is that of the gospel, not of ourselves.

God does good to all in the sense of giving all men useful and pleasant things in this life such as rain and sunshine, knowing that these things, whilst helping the elect, will merely harden the reprobate because they will be unthankful for them, not seeing the hand of God in them at all. We should rejoice in this, just as we should rejoice in everything God does. Christ "rejoiced in spirit" that God had hidden truth from the wise and prudent and only revealed it to babes:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Luke 10:21)

Therefore, when, in Proverbs 10:12 for example, Scripture seems to condemn all hatred, it much be seen in context with those passages which positively condone it.

"Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins." (Proverbs 10:12)

This verse is only talking of unjust hatred, i.e. where the object of the hatred is hated unjustly. Just as "love" in this verse means a just love - the verse indicates this when it speaks of the covering of sins. Loving the wicked in their wickedness does not cover their sins, on the contrary it displays them, as though heaping coals of fire on their head (Romans 12:20).

Note also Psalm 149:8,9:

"To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalm 149:8,9)

We will have the honour of executing God's judgement at the appropriate time.

Finally, note:

"Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me." (Psalm 92:11)

"His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies." (Psalm 112:8)

"The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me." (Psalm 118:7)

We should desire the defeat and destruction of all our enemies, if they are God's enemies too. Any other attitude of heart towards them is unbiblical and therefore un-Christian.

"The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." (Psalm 58:10)

"Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her." (Revelation 18:20)

Praise the LORD!!