As I begin looking at this morning’s “Refresh” scripture, I am led to read it in context with the entire chapter. In Psalm 139 Father highlights this passage, causing me to pause and ponder.
“Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.” – Psalms 139:21-22 NASB1995
This thought process reveals our human tendency to attach evil to the people who practice it. But is it true that God hates those who hate Him? I don’t believe so, and here is why.
One: God so loves the world that He willingly and freely gave His one true Son as propitiation for their sin. The world / worldly is defined by a mindset that is against God and God’s truth. In other words, the world / worldly moves in opposition to God, His will and His way, which is the defining character of that which hates God. But God doesn’t hate the people of the world. He loves the world and made the ultimate sacrifice to prove it.
Two: attaching sin to the sinner is to keep an account of wrongs suffered. God’s word tells us that love does not do that. God is love. He does not act in opposition to His own word and dictates. He is the perfect example of all He calls us to. Proof?
Jesus says of Himself that seeing Him, we have seen the Father. He is the personification of the Father for us. On the cross, He did not take the sin against Him into account, but instead prayed for God to forgive them, “for they know not what they do.” In this act on the cross, Jesus was exemplifying the Father’s example in Isaiah 43:25.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”
In the midst of Israel’s sin, God forgave them out of loving desire to fulfill His purpose of maintaining relationship with them. He says He did so for His own sake. He detaches us from our sin for His own sake so He can continue to love us and reach out a saving hand to us for His own sake, that His purpose and plan may be fulfilled, on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to do the same.
God hates sin, and sin cannot stand in His holy presence. When God turns His back, He is turning His back on sin, refusing it. Sin separates us from a right and good relationship with God, but it does not separate us from His love. He still loves us though our sin hinders our realization of that love. Sin is what God hates, not the sinner; He sent His Son to die for the sinner.
When we grab hold of God’s loving hand through Christ, the death of sin found in separation from God is immediately broken off of us. And as we begin to walk in Love relationship with God, He delivers us from that which leads us to sin. He engenders a hate for sin in us that causes us to turn from sin and walk with Him. But He also places His love in us, thus we hate sin while still loving the sinner; and we are able to forgive the sin in order to have a relationship with the sinner, making us useful to God in being the hand of Christ to a lost and dead world.
There is no sin God has not forgiven except the sin of refusing the work of God accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. So we who are God’s children through Christ are called to love as He loves. We hate sin, but we love the sinner. We do not walk with the sinner into sin, but we are ready to help them find the love of God for themselves. Holding hate toward the sinner because of their hate toward God revealed by their surrender to sin’s grip only hinders us being the picture of Christ to them, following His example as the image of God to the world.