In late February 2016, I began prepping for some devotional talks that I would be doing as part of a sports ministry I am involved with. Since Easter was nearing, my thoughts were on the cross and what it signifies.
Thinking on the cross, I was immediately struck by the incredible love of God. What love to sacrifice so much! It truly is amazing to think about.
Soon my thoughts turned to the hope we have because of the cross. Since God defeated sin, death, and the grave, that means He can defeat anything! I can have hope in my struggles and trials and hurts and pain. Because if God can win at the cross, He can win anywhere.
Love and hope are certainly amazing topics to speak about at Easter, but I wanted to speak on something that doesn’t get a lot of “air time.” Then it hit me. You know what else we see in the cross? We see hate.
Now, before you throw your e-reader across the room and condemn me as a heretic, let me explain. In the cross, we see glorious hope for a great future; we see God’s tremendous love for His fallen people, but we also see just how much our heavenly Father hates sin.
Since this word hate will get a lot of “air-time” in this book, it is important that we understand what it truly means. For instance, since my family is filled with Philadelphia Eagles fans, we often say things like “I hate the Dallas Cowboys.” (This was said too many times to count during the Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith years!)
As an impatient driver, I can also be caught saying, “I hate when people drive 53 in a 55…or even 55 in a 55.” Don’t people know that 55 means 65?!?
I am sure you can think of similar instances where you have used this word hate. The way we commonly use it today, it usually means “annoying or frustrating.” Yet, in the Bible, the word most often used for hate can literally be translated as detestable enmity.
That is to say, God is not annoyed or frustrated by sin. No, He despises sin so much that He has set Himself against it. (Hence the word enmity which means to make an enemy of.) In short, the Lord cannot stand sin. It is disgusting and despicable to Him, so He has made Himself an enemy of it.
Proverbs 6:16-19 states, There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
In the Psalms, we read verses like, Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. And the Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. (Psalm 5:5 and 11:5)
Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord laments, “Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, ‘Don’t do these horrible things that I hate so much.” (Jeremiah 44:4)
We see the Lord’s hatred for sin throughout both the Old and New Testaments. From Genesis 3 straight through to Revelation 2:6, the message is clear. God hates sin. Unfortunately, in our culture, we’ve lost this understanding of what God thinks about sin, so we tend to treat sin like it’s a joke or like it’s no big deal. We act as though it is something we can choose to ignore or even tolerate.
However, imagine that you were diagnosed with brain cancer. Your family and friends are understandably concerned, and they ask what your next steps are. Incredulously you respond, “Well, I looked up some cancer jokes on the internet, so I figured I would make some jokes about it and then do my best to ignore it.”
Your friends are rightly troubled. “Whoa! If you do that, the cancer will consume you cell by cell until you are dead. You need begin radical treatment and kill this disease!” They would be correct. The only thing you do with cancer is use every means at your disposal to eradicate it.
Just like cancer, the last thing God wants you to do with sin is to treat it like no big deal or to act like you can ignore it and tolerate it. The Lord knows very well the devastating effects of sin and how it consumes its victims bit by bit until they are totally corrupted.
In Galatians, the apostle Paul tells us, Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit (emphasis mine). (Galatians 6:7,8)
Wherever there is sin, the result is always corruption. There is no “out-clause” for a supposed super-human ability to ignore or tolerate it. In the end, if you believe you can ignore or tolerate sin, either you are lying to you or God is lying to you.
God’s Word is abundantly clear. Sin cannot be played with, ignored, or tolerated. It always leads to corruption. This is why the Lord hates it. Yes, with a burning passion, He hates sin. It is completely detestable, wholly despicable, and total enmity to him.
Not quite sure if such strong language is warranted? I'll explain why it is warranted in the next blog