by Chip Brogden
"I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:104b)
From our earliest days as young Christians our special emphasis is on love. We are taught to love God with all our heart, love our neighbor, and love our enemy. We feel convicted if we do not love someone the way we think we should, and we ask God to give us a love for that brother or sister. How wonderful when the Lord responds to our prayer and we are able to love one another with a holy love.
Yet there is another aspect of love that is often overlooked, and that is hatred. This is a holy hatred. It goes right along with holy love. Yet we do not hear a lot about this holy hatred. We are not talking about the kind of hate that causes people to fight and kill one another. We hear the word "hate" and we think of gossip, slander, strife, murder, war, "hate crimes" against individuals and groups, jihads and crusades. There is nothing holy about that, that is sin. But what we have in mind here is a holy hatred that is the result of a holy love.
I would like to suggest that the reason we are not familiar with holy hatred, the good hatred, is because our love is not strong enough. A strong love produces a strong hatred; a holy love produces a holy hatred. For example, in Psalm 119, David rejoices in the truth of the Law of the Lord. Because he has learned to love the truth, he has also learned to hate every false way. You cannot love the truth and love error at the same time. But the more you love the truth, the more you will hate the false. Do you see this? That is one example of holy hatred.
LOVING WHAT GOD LOVES, HATING WHAT GOD HATES
Do you know that the Lord hates things? As we proceed with our study we will see that God says He hates certain things. Yet God is love. So love and hate are not mutually exclusive, but they are complementary. Why do people hate other people? Because they love themselves. Self-Love is extremely destructive. So love is powerful, and so is hate, even if we are loving and hating the wrong things. Both can be misused, we know that. But holy hatred is as much of a gift as holy love. Until and unless we have a holy hatred of ignorance then we will always be deceived. Until and unless we have a holy hatred of sin then we will always be in bondage to it. Until and unless we have a holy hatred of hypocrisy then we will never be genuine. Until and unless we have a holy hatred of our own way then we will never surrender our way over to God. Until and unless we have a holy hatred for evil then we will never overcome it with good. In your life you will always love something and hate something else. The question is whether or not you will love what God loves and hate what God hates, or whether you will love what God hates and hate what God loves.
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other..." (Matthew 6:24a).
The context of this passage is talking about mammon (the love of, and the endless pursuit of, wealth). But the principle applies to everything else. There can only be one master in your life. You can only serve one thing at a time. You are not free to do as you please. Even if you say you serve no one, you are still serving Self. So which will it be? Jesus says if you love Him then you will hate everything else. What does that mean? It means that you will allow nothing and no one to take the place of the One you love - not for a day, not for an hour, not for a minute. If our love for the Lord is strong then we will learn to hate everything which competes against Him. We will despise anything that seeks to hinder our relationship with Christ.
When I married my wife we had already established the fact that we loved one another. We loved one another BEFORE we got married. Was that not enough? What was the point of marriage? Our marriage confirmed the love that already existed, but it also established our rejection of every other potential lover in the world - past, present, and future. By choosing each other we were, in essence and in fact, rejecting everyone else. It would not be enough for us to simply say we loved one another. We made a commitment, and when we did, all my "girlfriends" and all her "boyfriends" had to be forsaken. Otherwise our marriage would have been doomed to failure.
Now, we say we love the Lord. We sing songs that say, "You're all I want; You're all I've ever needed." How is it, then, that we can come to the Lord, give Him our life, give Him our heart, declare our love for Him, and still hang on to all our "boyfriends" and "girlfriends?" You cannot serve two masters. You cannot give yourself completely to more than one person. You cannot hold on to one thing and have the other thing too. You can do whatever you want, but you cannot do everything you want. At some point you have to make a choice. If you choose the Lord then you must reject everything that is not of the Lord. If you serve Him then you cannot serve anything else. If you hold on to anything else then He says you are hating and despising Him.
I did a study of the original Hebrew and Greek words for "hate." I made an amazing discovery. I found that the word "hate" means exactly what it says. "Hate" means hate in Hebrew, Greek and English. I was looking for some secret truth, but there is no hidden meaning at all. Love is a strong word. Hate is a strong word. To hate means to despise, to reject, to be disgusted by. There is no middle ground. Friend, I would never question your love for the Lord. But I would question your hatred of everything else. What you love is a clue to what you hate, and what you hate is a clue to what you love. Do you hate sin? Do you hate evil? Do you hate every false way? Someone who hates sin long enough will eventually cry out to God for deliverance. Someone who hates evil long enough will eventually learn how to overcome it. Someone who hates every false way will eventually find the right way.
DISCIPLESHIP: A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP
"If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26).
I came to the Lord at the age of eight years old. I have attended church since I was a child. I have been involved in some form of ministry since I was thirteen years old. I have heard thousands of messages and attended hundreds of services. In all that time I do not remember hearing a single message on Luke 14:26. In fact, I do not recall ever hearing Luke 14:26 quoted within the walls of a church building.
Today my heart is grieving over the lack of disciples. Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples. But that is too difficult. So now we settle for something less. We just go into all the world and get "decisions for Christ." It is too much work to make a disciple. I just talked to a pastor friend of mine who started leadership training with a small group in his church. As he laid out the program someone complained, "But this is going to take a lot of discipline." Now, this is one of the people supposed to be a leader, complaining about having to become disciplined. Their idea of discipleship is sitting in church on Sunday morning listening to the pastor preach.
On the one hand, I believe religion makes Jesus too complicated. On the other hand, I believe religion makes discipleship too easy. Imagine Jesus standing at the altar of a church on Sunday morning as people come forward to "make a decision" for Christ. Jesus looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, you cannot be my disciple." They would be shocked. The church staff would be horrified. The congregation would be aghast. But that is exactly what Luke 14:26 describes. Someone comes to Jesus. Hallelujah! Do we have a disciple? Maybe we do, or maybe we do not. Because in addition to coming to Jesus, that person must hate their parents, spouse, brothers and sisters. They must hate their own life, and they must take up their Cross and die so they can live. Do you want to know the real problem? We do not want to be disciples at all, we just want to be saved. We just want to get to Heaven with as little discomfort as possible. That is why we call it "getting saved" instead of "getting discipled." We have made an artificial distinction between the two, as if the first is mandatory and the second is only optional. Can you really be saved and go to heaven and not actually be a disciple? Millions of people are betting that they can.
I have seen a lot of altar calls, but never in my life have I ever seen an altar call based on Luke 14:26. Why not? Because no one would respond! What is Jesus talking about? He is talking about a holy hatred. Becoming a disciple means Jesus will have the preeminence in my life from this moment forward. "Preeminence" means the first, the highest, the best, the supreme, the most favored place. It means putting Him before everyone and everything else, even those most dearest to me. It means giving up all my rights and demands, hating my own life and giving it over to Him. It is the death of Self. Jesus will not be thrust in a corner, or relegated to a couple of hours on Sunday morning, while we live any way we please under the delusion that we are "saved." Either He is Lord OF all, or He is not Lord AT all.
HATE SELF AND LIVE FOREVER
"He that loves his life will lose it; and he that hates his life in this world will keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25).
One important characteristic of the "last days" is that "men will be lovers of their own selves" (II Timothy 3:2a). This seems to be the thing that lies at the root of every problem. Indeed, it is the explanation for why evil exists in the world. Evil exists because people who are blinded by love for Self want to control and manipulate everything for their own selfish purposes; and if they cannot control it, they seek to destroy it. The cure for Evil is a holy hatred of Self, and that is precisely what the Cross, practically applied, produces in a disciple of Jesus.
The problem is getting people to embrace the Cross. Even in his happiest letter, a frustrated Paul laments that "all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (Philippians 2:21). In the same letter, a weeping Paul cries that "many walk" as "the enemies of the Cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:18,19). We do not have to curse Christ to be an enemy of His Cross: all we have to do is love ourselves and care more about earthly things than heavenly things. Ultimately, self-preservation, self-love, self-will, and self-righteousness at the expense of everything else becomes self-destruction. You get the opposite of what you hoped to receive. That is what Jesus is telling us. If you love your life you will lose it altogether.
There comes a day when we are so sick of our own way that we beg God to show us another way. Paul says the thing he wants to do he does not do, and the thing he hates is what he finds himself doing (cf. Romans 7:15). We may think the solution is to focus on the problem, to stop doing the thing we hate, to clean up our act. But we eventually discover, like Paul, that the real problem is not what we DO, but what we ARE. We can confess the same sins over and over again, or we can take up the Cross and die to them all. The first approach deals with sins committed, while the second approach deals with the sinner. Which do you think is more effective? Well, if the one who sins is dead then the issue of continued sinning becomes irrelevant. Hating sin is good; hating Self is better, and far more effective. For the strength of Sin is Self. If you take the ax to the root of a bad tree, then it will stop producing bad fruit, and the issue is settled once and for all. If Self is denied then Sin becomes superfluous, and the problem of Evil is solved.
THE GOD OF HOLY LOVE AND HOLY HATRED
But holy hatred is not just for disciples. The Lord is quite capable of holy hatred, too. For so long people have assumed that since God loves you no matter what you do, then God also loves everything you do. That is simply untrue. God is love, and as we have already pointed out, holy love produces holy hatred. The Lord loves us. And because He loves us so passionately, His holy hatred can be quite searing:
"I am sick of your sacrifices. Don't bring Me any more of them. I don't want your fat rams; I don't want to see the blood from your offerings. Who wants your sacrifices when you have no sorrow for your sins? The incense you bring Me is a stench in My nostrils. Your holy celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath, and your special days of fasting - even your most pious meetings - are all frauds! I want nothing more to do with them. I hate them all; I can't stand the sight of them. From now on, when you pray with your hands stretched out to heaven, I won't look or listen. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear..." (Isaiah 1:11-15a, Living Bible).
"I hate your show and pretense - your hypocrisy of 'honoring' Me with your religious feasts and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and thank offerings. I will not look at your offerings of peace. Away with your hymns of praise - they are mere noise to My ears. I will not listen to Your music, no matter how lovely it is" (Amos 5:21-23, Ibid).
I want to be a blessing and a delight to the Lord. I do not want to grieve Him. What about you? Friends, we need to find out what the Lord loves and what the Lord hates. It would be better for us to cancel everything and just lay face-down in the dirt than to shuffle through yet another church "service" and run the risk of grieving God yet again. We have a responsibility to find out what the Lord loves and what the Lord hates; what is acceptable to Him, and what is unacceptable. It is vain to continually ask Him to bless the thing He is disgusted by. It is a waste of time. Are we offering acceptable sacrifices to the Lord? Sacrifices of humility? Brokenness? Spirit and truth worship? Or are we just going through the motions of Churchianity every week? We know how to put together a music program (three praise songs, three worship songs). We know how to take up offerings. We know how to preach and give an altar call. We know how to do all these things: but are we giving God what He wants? It is a sad, but real fact: if God removed His presence from our church services, 99% of the activity would continue on as before, without interruption. We do not need God's Spirit to worship in the flesh: we can do that all by ourselves. But God will not accept this "worship." He looks the other way. For...
"...There are six things the Lord hates - no, seven: Haughtiness, lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, sowing discord among brothers" (Proverbs 6:16-19, Ibid.).
It is a difficult thing for us to grasp, but the Scriptures make it clear. The Lord puts pride, lying, and gossiping in the same class as murdering and plotting evil. If we want to be a blessing to the Lord then we have to hate the things that He hates. We cannot afford to gloss over these things. The Lord does not change. If He hated something 4,000 years ago then He hates it every bit as much today. We cannot afford to become careless. Daily we grieve the Lord and we grieve one another with thoughtless words and actions.
All of us hate murder - but do we hate pretense and hypocrisy with the same passion? Do we hate gossip and lying? We are quick to condemn others for their acts of terrorism and violence, because it is an obvious sin. But are we so quick to judge ourselves when we are guilty of stirring up strife and sowing discord among brothers? "Lord, allow me to hate the things that you hate." This should be our prayer, and the Lord will answer it by revealing Himself to us in a powerful way. We will learn to stay away from the things that grieve and offend the Lord. We will be attracted to the things that please Him. This is holiness.
Some brothers and sisters have no fear at all of sowing discord. In the name of "sharing" we so often bite and devour one another. Of course, gossip is usually packaged with spiritual phraseology. I read something online once that said, "Pray for Chip Brogden, because he..." and it went on to list specific ways in which I had failed to live up to this person's expectations. "Pray for sister so-and-so, you know I saw her down at the liquor store the other day and..." With prayer partners like that, who needs prayer? This is just one example of how we fail to hate what the Lord hates. In all my years of being around church people I have seen so much strife and discord that I have learned to hate gossip with a holy hatred. I beg God to help me keep my mouth shut and my ears closed in this area. Gossip is so detestable to me that I cannot stand to be around people who are intent on sowing discord. It makes my skin crawl! It makes my blood boil! This is a gift from God. The Lord has broken me in this area. What about you?
HATING FOR JESUS
Do you love what the Lord loves? Then you must hate what the Lord hates. Jesus hated what had happened to His Father's house, and He formed a whip to drive the merchants out of the Temple (cf. John 2:13-17). Pay attention to the things that make you angry, the things that grieve you, the things that make you passionate and zealous - they are clues to something you may be called to confront and change: first in yourself and then in others.
"[To Pergamos:] You have among you those who hold to the teachings of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate" (Revelation 2:15).
"[To Ephesus:] In your favor, you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate" (Revelation 2:6).
In the book of Revelation we find seven letters to seven churches. We also find the importance of hating what the Lord hates. Two churches are singled out with reference to the Nicolaitans. We have no intention of debating what the Nicolaitans represent: that would be the subject of another article. Right now, we are merely addressing the issue of holy hatred.
Pergamos was faithful to the Lord's Testimony. Jesus says they held fast to His Name and had not denied the faith even when threatened with martyrdom. But they had allowed false doctrine to creep into their assembly. Their faithfulness to everything else notwithstanding, the Lord had an issue with them because they permitted something that the Lord hated. Now, I know of many Pergamum assemblies. Many of them are denominational churches, many of them are house churches. They hear me talk about the preeminence of Christ but they go along just as before. They permit things that are detestable to the Lord. They say they love the Lord, but they do not hate what He hates. They hold to the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. What is going to happen? "Repent; or else I will come to you suddenly, and will fight against you with the sword of My Mouth" (Revelation 2:16).
On the other hand, look at Ephesus. They labored patiently, were intolerant of evil, and exercised remarkable discernment against false apostles. Unfortunately the work of the Lord became more important than the Lord of the work, and they lost their first love. They are commanded to repent and do the first works over again. Yet in an interesting postscript, the Lord adds, "But in your favor, you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Zeal does count for something. Holy hatred is important. The Ephesian church hated what the Lord hated. All they had to do now was to make Jesus the first priority and they would be a powerful testimony for the Lord.
The Bible says that Jesus "loved righteousness, and hated iniquity" (Hebrews 1:9a). Jesus has not changed. He passionately loves what His Father loves, and He passionately hates what His Father hates. And this is the One Who lives in us, the One Who is making us in His image. To touch the Lord Jesus is to touch what He loves and what He hates. It is to have compassion on the multitudes and be angry at their oppressors. We cannot know the Lord to any depth and remain passionless. The measure of our love for righteousness is determined by our hatred for iniquity, and the measure of our hatred for iniquity is determined by our love for righteousness. Holy love and holy hatred go hand-in-hand. Both are gifts from God. Both are powerful motivators, each one being fueled by the other.
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and perverse speech, do I hate" (Proverbs 8:13).
It is universally accepted that the one called "Wisdom" in Proverbs 8 is the preexistent Christ. We would all like a revelation of Christ that tells us something of His love, or power, or healing, or grace. Certainly that is all included in Christ. Yet this revelation of Christ - as the One Who hates evil, pride, and arrogance - is just as valid. Of course, such a disclosure may not be congruent with our idea of Jesus as meek, mild, and passive. But the purpose of revelation is not to substantiate our illusions, but to eliminate them; to show us the truth, and then to conform us to the truth we have been shown.
To repeat: in your life you will always love something and hate something else. No one can serve two masters. The question is whether or not you will love what God loves and hate what God hates, or whether you will love what God hates and hate what God loves.
Father, conform us to the image of Jesus Christ - and destroy all our illusions about what that means. He must increase, but we must decrease. Show us the things that please you; show us the things that grieve you. Give us wisdom and discernment to know the difference. Give us a holy hatred of anything and everything that fails to give Christ the preeminence. We ask it for Your Will and Your Kingdom. Amen.
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