In 1987, I had the privilege of visiting the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico for the first time with Gardner Hall. Several churches had invited him to speak and I accompanied him everywhere.
“The Religion of Christ Is a Religion of Hatred”
When it was time to present his lesson to one of the congregations, Gardner went to the front and exclaimed, “Brethren, the religion of Christ is a religion of hatred.” At that time, I didn’t understand Spanish very well, but I understood that! I remember seeing an expression of shock or perplexity on the faces of some of the brethren seated in the pews. Maybe they were thinking to themselves: What can Gardner possibly say now to fix this comment?
He didn’t have to fix anything. There is something that followers of Christ must hate with their whole being. Psalm 97:10 says, “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!” Those who love a righteous God must detest everything that goes against his nature and his will. They must hate sin!
Only God Can Define Good and Evil
In contrast, many today defend different sinful practices arguing that they have “freedom” to engage in them. However, the legal authorization of a human court does not guarantee that such practices have God’s approval. The fallible judges of the earth are unable to perfectly define the difference between good and evil because they are subject to the same weaknesses as everyone else. In order to distinguish between the two, we must rely on a standard that is greater than ourselves. We need an infallible revelation from God in order to know the difference between right and wrong (1 Corinthians 2:9-11, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Hate Evil like God Hates It
Perhaps the main reason why it is necessary to hate evil is because God hates it. For example, the writer of Proverbs enumerates seven things that God detests: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19). This is not a complete list but it gives us a good idea of what God thinks about sin. See also Zechariah 8:17 and Romans 1:18-32.
“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He is completely free of evil. Likewise, Jesus hated sin to such a degree during his earthly life that he didn’t sin a single time (Isaiah 53:9, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22).
In John 14:30, Jesus claimed that Satan had “nothing” in him (NASB). What he meant by this was that the devil had no power over him… not even in his death. How much more should we hate sin and be free from its evil influence in this life?