“You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.”
I find it striking that the Psalmist declares that hate is a necessary expression of true love. He explains that part of being in a healthy love relationship with Jesus is having a hatred for evil. Why is it necessary to hate evil? Why should we hate evil? I can think of at least three pretty strong reasons.
First, we should hate evil because of what evil does to creation. When sin entered the world, death entered and all of creation began to be in a state of decay. We observe this daily. People age and die, things deteriorate and break, everything goes from a state of useful to useless. Paul explains that creation itself even groans to be redeemed. If we could discern the voice of nature we would hear it crying out for redemption.
Second, we should hate evil because of what it does to us. Evil or sin separates man from God placing all humanity under its curse and penalty. Sin has devastated families, wreaked havoc on relationships, fueled racial prejudices, started wars, and will ultimately damn those who reject Christ to eternal separation from God. Even after we are redeemed, sin is like a cancer that eats away at the spiritual life of the believer. When we allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies, it creates distance between us and God, causing us to miss out on experiencing abundant life, for which he died. Instead of life, love, joy, peace, we find ourselves living under the weight of guilt and fear, suffering the consequences of our personal failures.
Finally, we must hate evil because of what it has done to God. His holiness demands that sinners are separated from Him, but His love drives Him to restore our broken fellowship. The only currency valuable enough to pay the cost for the human soul is the blood of God. It was because of sin that the blood of God was shed. We have all felt the weight of individual sin. We know the guilt and pain that we have been under, as a result of one sinful action. On the cross, Jesus bore the weight of every sin that every man has or will ever commit. The darkness of that day aptly illustrate the severe suffering that Christ endured as He cried out, “My God why have You forsaken Me?” It seems to me, the proper response for the child of God is to hate evil. It has been my experience that we avoid what we hate. A true hatred of evil will cause us to avoid sin, rather than living as close to it as possible. Will you join me in praying that we would have a healthy hatred of sin, and avoid it at all costs?
Questions for Psalm 97
- Verse 1 tells us that the Lord reigns, and for all the earth to rejoice. Read verse 2. Why is it good news that God is the ultimate ruler of everything?
- Read verses 3-7 detail God’s dealings with those who are His enemies and who worship other gods. The reality of God’s might and power is not at first evident to His enemies, but it will ultimately become evident to all. Do you find yourself losing sight of this reality?
- In verse 9 we read of the ultimate rightful place of God, high above all of His created order in every way. It is easy for us to worship (give our time, love or energy to) things that God has made because we can see them and we can touch them. It is good for us to be reminded in His word of Are there any things in your life that you are loving more than God?
- In verse 10-12 we read that if we love God that we need to hate According to these verses, what are some of the benefits that come from loving God and hating evil?