Does God hate? If God is love, how can He hate?

Question: “Does God hate? If God is love, how can He hate?”

It seems a contradiction that a God who is love can also hate. We are created with the capacity to both love and hate; it is part of our being created in the image of God. The fact that we are all tainted with sin does not negate the fact that the ability to love and hate is part of the image of God that was created within us all. Therefore, if it is no contradiction for a human being to be able to love and hate, then much more so would it not be a contradiction for God to be able to love and hate. 

When the Bible does speak of God hating, the object of God’s hatred is usually sin and wickedness. Among the things God hates are idolatry (Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22) and those who do evil (Psalm 5:4-6; 11:5). Proverbs 6:16-19 outlines seven things the Lord hates: pride, lying, murder, evil plots, those who love evil, false witness, and troublemakers. Notice that this passage does not include justthings that God hates; it includes people as well. 

The question that begs to be answered at this point is why does God hate these things? God hates them because they are contrary to His nature—God’s nature being holy, pure and righteous. In fact, David writes, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 emphasis added). God is holy and hates sin. If He did not hate sin, He would not be holy. God is love, but He is also wrath, justice, and vengeance. But His wrath is a holy wrath and His justice and vengeance are holy as well. God’s love is holy. Therefore, He cannot “love everyone all the time no matter what they do,” as some like to claim. Nothing could be further from the truth. God loves righteousness and holiness and hates sin and evil. If He did not, He would not be God. 

So if God hates sin and loves holiness, how does He love us? Simple. He loves us because we have the righteousness of Christ who became sin for us on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). He poured out His wrath and vengeance against sin on His Son, so that He could pour out His mercy and love on us. But without that sacrifice credited to us, His wrath and hatred remain on us because He hates our sin. The Bible never says He “hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” In fact, He is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Is there a sense in which God loves everyone? Yes. Does that love preclude God from also hating sin, wickedness, and evil? No.

Recommended Resource: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson.


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