What God Hates (I)
GOD IS LOVE
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 2/11/01 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Let's turn to 1 John 4, verses 7-8:
1 John 4: (7) Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and everyone who loves has been generated from God, and knows God. (8) The [one] who does not love has not known God, because God is love.
Today, I'm going to be starting a series of sermons under the heading, "What God Hates." The Lord willing, in this series, we will see from the Scriptures what God says He hates. To start the series, I'm entitling today's sermon "God is Love." Now some of you listening to this might be surprised that I'm going to be preaching a sermon on the love of God in a series on the hatred of God. But the only way to truly understand God's hatred is to understand His love. The passage we just read stated that God IS love. It doesn't state that God DOES love, although that's true. And it doesn't state that God is LOVING, which is also true. It states that God IS love. It is making a specific point. It is saying that God is DEFINED BY love. Love is God's ESSENCE. Now with the way this phrase is constructed in the original, it CANNOT be said that LOVE is GOD. This needs to be made clear, because some might use this verse to make love a god. But love IS NOT God - GOD is LOVE. God is ESSENTIALLY love, and God is the SOURCE of all love.
Remember when I went over the different Greek words translated "love"? Well, the "love" in this phrase is a-GAH-pay, which has a MORAL sense to it. It's that so-called "head love" that the scholars like to put down in favor of their romantic notions of "heart love." This love is what has the best interests in mind of the object of that love.
Now how can it be that God, who IS love, HATES? Some would say that it's an impossibility, since a being whose essence is love cannot produce hatred. Thus, when they come to the passages that say that God hates, they say that it must mean that God "loves less." But then they get themselves into a mess. For if God's love is a PERFECT love, how can there be degrees of perfection? If God loves one person perfectly and loves another one less, does he love the object of His lesser love PERFECTLY? You can see where that leads.
Those who say that God, whose essence is love, cannot produce hatred, do not know the NATURE of the LOVE that God has. And they do not know the LOVE that is the NATURE of God.
What is this love? I found a definition of it that I couldn't improve on. Here it is: "Love is that spiritual bond of perfect fellowship that subsists between ethically perfect, personal beings, who, because of their ethical perfection have their delight in, seek, and find one another." So what is this saying about the love of God? WHAT or WHO is the FIRST and FOREMOST object of God's love? HIMSELF! GOD LOVES HIMSELF. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have PERFECT LOVE for EACH OTHER. The Godhead is the essence, the epitome, the supreme example, of love. Before we talk about love in any other way, we need to see that God loves Himself. And we not only need to see the FACT that God loves Himself - we need to see the REASON that God loves Himself. As with every other attribute of God, God's love comes from His HOLINESS. WHY does God love Himself? It's because He is HOLY. God loves and communes with Himself in His Holiness.
What is God's Holiness? It's His ethical perfection. It's His purity, His righteousness. God loves His purity. He loves His righteousness. And His purity and righteousness are so perfect that He CANNOT love or commune with or fellowship with ANYTHING or ANYONE that is not as pure and righteous as He is. In fact, because He is perfectly Holy, anything that is in the least bit contrary to His Holiness is an ABOMINATION to God. And here is where we get into God's hatred. See how it's connected with God's love? God HATES wickedness because He LOVES His Holy Self. He CANNOT but HATE that which is not holy. So keep this in mind as we go through what the Bible says about what God hates. God hates because He is love. If God did not hate, then He would not be love. He would not be holy. A non-hating god is no God. A god who loves everyone without exception is no God. A god who lets some sin go unpunished is no God. A god who fellowships with those who are not as righteous as He is is no God.
So what are we to conclude? Does God hate everyone? After all, the Bible says that no one is righteous and that all have sinned. And God only loves those who are righteous, which means perfectly sinless. Are you perfectly sinless? Am I perfectly sinless? In our own character and conduct, we are wretched sinners, even at our best. And anyone trying to fellowship with God by his own efforts, even his very best efforts, is hated by God, because He hates all who do not have a righteousness that equals His. Is there then no hope?
Well, praise God, there IS hope for those whom God has chosen to be His from the foundation of the world. And that hope DOES not and CANNOT reside in the character and conduct of the PEOPLE whom God chose, because these people are SINNERS, just like the rest. So if they were to come to God based on their own works, God would HATE them, just like the rest. But God does NOT hate His people. He LOVES His people. But how can God LOVE sinful humans and yet remain true to His Holiness, which includes ABSOLUTE HATRED of wickedness? As I've said many times before, and as I hope to say many times more, the answer lies in the person and work of Jesus Christ. God did not just let our sin go. God did not just forget about it. God is HOLY. God loves HIMSELF and HATES EVERYTHING contrary to His perfect holiness. And let me tell you how much He hates everything contrary to His perfect holiness. He hated it SO MUCH that He POURED OUT His hatred on the second person of the Holy Trinity - the sinless, undefiled Son of God, the Christ - when the sins of His people were imputed to Christ. Think about it! God the Son, the one in perfect communion and love with the Godhead, was not spared the hatred of God when sins were imputed to Him. Now does that show us the MAGNITUDE and the ABSOLUTENESS of God's hatred? When the sins of His people were imputed to Christ, did God make the excuse that he wasn't going to hate this time because it was His only Son, the perfect God-man? Did he make an exception here? Some say that God is too loving to show hate, and that he would never pour out his wrath on anyone. Yet God did not even make an exception WITH HIS OWN SON - A MEMBER OF THE TRINITY! If God were to make any exceptions, if He were to be lenient, this would have been the time to do so. But His hatred is pure. It is holy. It makes no exceptions, even when it comes to His only begotten Son.
Jesus Christ bore the full force of God's hatred as a SUBSTITUTE for His people. He bore God's hatred IN PLACE OF His people. And when God's hatred had been fully poured out for everyone Christ represented, SATISFACTION had been made. And this GUARANTEES that God's hatred will NOT be poured out on His people. NONE of them will suffer under the hatred of God in hell. This is love. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 1 John 4:9-10 says, "By this the love of God was revealed in us, because His Son, the Only begotten, God has sent into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son [to be] a propitiation relating to our sins." God's love is manifested by Christ's death for His people. In pouring out His hatred on His Son, God was showing love for those whose sins were imputed to His Son.
Just a little while ago, I was talking about the perfect love that God has for Himself. There is perfect love between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are in perfect everlasting communion. Now here is an amazing thing. Because we are IN Christ, because we are ONE with Christ, WE are in that circle of fellowship and communion with the Godhead! What an awesome thing to meditate upon! Think about this: God is love, meaning first and foremost that God loves Himself. And it follows that since God loves Himself, He loves Jesus Christ. And it follows that since God loves Jesus Christ, He loves all who are IN Jesus Christ. God's love for HIMSELF is the primary reason that God loves US! And God loves US as much as He loves HIMSELF! Because of the imputed righteousness of Christ, we are as holy and as pure as Jesus Christ is! 1 John 1:3 says, "And truly our fellowship [is] with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ." The only way we can be in fellowship with God is if He loves us. And the only way we can be loved by God is if we are as holy, righteous, and pure as He is. And the only way this is accomplished is through the imputed righteousness of Christ. God does not hate us. By "us," I mean those of us who have a righteousness that answers the demands of God's law and justice. In fact, God CANNOT hate us, because He CANNOT do anything contrary to His nature. And hating those who have a perfect righteousness would be contrary to His nature. In the same way, God CANNOT love anyone who does not have a righteousness that answers the demands of His law and justice. Loving those who do not have a perfect righteousness would be contrary to His nature.
I'd like to briefly mention something else we should keep in mind as we go through this series on God's hatred. When we read a passage in which God expresses His hatred, there is sometimes a temptation to read it as if God raises His voice when He talks about what He hates or when He is cursing people or when He is angry at people. The truth is that we DON'T KNOW what God sounded like when He was expressing hatred, and we should not attempt to dramatize what God sounded like. We know that God's voice thundered and was loud enough for His hearers to hear what He was saying, but this was the case whether he was expressing love OR hatred, and we should not attempt to imitate God's thundering voice. Our reading voice has some natural inflections in it so as to give structure and flow to a sentence, and that's okay, but we shouldn't go out of our way to dramatize God's voice, just as we shouldn't dramatize anything else about God or Christ or the Holy Spirit. Dramatizing would get into people's minds that this is what God sounded like, and we do NOT want to get this into people's minds, just as we do not want to get into people's minds what God or Christ or the Holy Spirit looked like. Just something to keep in mind.
As we who are Christians go through this series and see what God specifically says He hates, let us meditate on God's holiness. Let us thank God for pouring out His hatred on our substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, out of love for God who first loved us, let us hate what He hates. I hope this series will be a blessing to you. Amen.