On Hatred

John David Clark, Sr. - January, 1997

"I hate every false way." Psalm 119:104

Hatred is not necessarily an evil thing; but, thinking so, many among God's own people struggle constantly with feelings of hatred which, unknown to them, spring from the Spirit of God. Jesus warned the Pastor at Ephesus that he was drifting away from his "first love", but then praised him for hating something that God hated (Rev.2:4-6). The principle reason that carnal men assume that all hatred is evil is that their kind of hatred is evil. It is a work of the flesh (Gal.5:20), and it is the only kind of hatred that carnal men know; but, the hatred that one feels in the Spirit of God is perfectly loving and clean and altogether desirable.

Jesus said, "If a man come unto me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Lk.14:26). By this, Jesus did not mean that we should hate our relatives as men think of hatred. It is evil to hate anyone, as ordinary people understand hatred to be. By saying that all who follow him must hate their dearest of kin, Jesus meant that in comparison to devotion to him, our devotion to others must become as hatred. There is no "second opinion" necessary in God's kingdom. His counsel is always the only counsel; His word is the only law.

Men who have not been given the grace to hear the call of Christ cannot understand. They do not interpret our love for God as being love for God; they see it only as hatred of them. And until God touches them with His love and righteousness, they cannot imagine what we have experienced. Such an exclusive devotion makes no sense to them. It seems unreasonable.

"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

Yes, those who have experienced God's touch are ofttimes transfixed upon Him, and are driven by an unseen force to pursue relentlessly His ways, to know and to please Him above all else. Such an humble dedication is mistaken by men for hatred, basically because it leaves them - their opinions and their wills - out. They sense that we have consigned them to an position of inconsequential influence and - especially if they are close relatives - it hurts them. What they cannot comprehend is that not only are their wills and opinions left out but ours are, too! Our own opinions and will are as inconsequential to us as theirs are.

When one man despises another in this world, he refuses to respect his will; and when you dearly love God, you do generally the same thing: you refuse the will of man, including your own. Nothing of man is allowed in God's way of holiness. Remember, Jesus said the one who followed him must hate "his own life, also." So, in comparison to our love for Jesus, our love for self and others must become as hatred.

An essential element of righteous hatred is that one must be set free to feel it. It is not a hatred that is bitter; it is a hatred that is clean and sweet. I love to feel the hatred of God. There is safety in it. There is love in it. Perfect hatred and perfect love are two sides of the same coin. They always go together. Perfect hatred will inspire a man to do precisely what perfect love will inspire him to do.

It is not possible for any man to understand these words unless God has already touched his heart. This simple truth will seem no more than foolish, religious babble to any man's natural mind. When we understand that, we can sympathize and have patience with those who think we have "gone off the deep end" with our pursuit of the things of God. They can think nothing else unless God helps them.


When God said "I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau" (Mal.1:2-3), the emphasis was on God's choosing Jacob over his elder brother Esau. Similarly, when Jesus told his followers that they must hate their relatives, he was emphasizing that we are always to choose God's ways over theirs; indeed, we are always to choose His way over our own. God did not hate Esau with a malicious hatred ("God is not a man"); nor are we to hate others and ourselves with a malicious hatred. God was good to Esau; He made him rich and blessed him with many children. But He chose Jacob to carry on the work of faith that his grandfather Abraham had begun. Only in that regard was Esau hated and Jacob loved.

What a fearful thought it is, though, to be hated by God, the way God hates; that is, for Him to choose others to bless instead of us, and to leave us alone! When God hates, He ignores. He leaves the one He hates to go his own way. A famous singer, Frank Sinatra, in a hit record a few years back titled, "My Way", boasts of going through his entire life his way. What a cursed man! Never convicted of sin and called by God! The man who does it his way is a man who has been hated (ignored) by God.

This is in large part what the Spirit of Christ meant when, speaking through David, he said, "I hate every false way." He meant that he chooses none of the ways that are of man or of the devil. "All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them" (Prov.8:8). Jesus has no part with any false way. That is really hating evil. While here, Jesus's hatred was not expressed with ranting and raving at false doctrines and ungodly religious activity. Though he rebuked the hypocrisy of God's people, Jesus is never recorded to have "preached against" the major false religions of his time, the Mithratic worship of the Roman soldiers, the Zoroastrianism of the Persians, the Olympians of the Greeks, etc. He merely had nothing to do with those unordained religions, teaching and doing only what his Father told him to do (Jn.6:38; 8:28). That is the "perfect hatred" of evil mentioned in Psalm 139:21.

In the past, I was often frustrated in situations in which relatives or others pressured me to make decisions based more on their will than God's. I did not know how to explain my feelings. It brought me great relief finally to learn that I couldn't have explained myself even if I had clearly understood my feelings. It isn't possible to explain life in Christ to anyone who isn't feeling a deep need for it. The very best any of us can do is humbly, stubbornly, obey God and let the chips fall where they may. My wise father had a saying that went something like this: If my obeying God hurts your feelings, I'll forgive you - if you repent.

This then is an element of "perfect hatred" that one should consider; to wit, God's hatred is not a spiteful, malicious contempt of others, such as man's hatred is. It is rather a deep loving of God, a preferring Him and His ways to all else. It does not express itself through any form of violence or cruelty, as man's hatred does; but expresses its love of God through choices. Sometimes those choices are tough ones, and certain to be misunderstood by anyone who does not "hate his own life also", but the love of God enables us to make those choices regardless of the earthly consequences.

Who Does Hate Evil?

Does a person hate a false way in which he is still participating? If God has hated sin enough to provide a way out of it, do we hate sin (as God hates it) if we remain in it? I think not. I am speaking now to those who know the truth. Can we be certain that we hate every false way, unless we have the knowledge of God concerning what is false and what is true? We have seen and lamented the foolish confidence of many who cling to dead works and doctrines of devils, even as they boast of being servants of God. Those false ways we know and have rejected, but are those false ways the only false ways that exist?

It was not in vain that Christ warned us to "serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling" (Ps.2:11). You remember very well the years you confidently worshipped God with singing and praise, only to learn that some of what you were thinking about God had been wrong all along. God did not condemn you during that time for your ignorance; He accepted your worship and fed you until you were able to receive purer doctrine. And when He did show you that purer way, He expected you then to hate the false doctrine you held before, as He had hated it all along. He expected you to hate the erroneous ways that you spoke and worshipped before, as He had hated them all along. He expected you to forsake them and choose His revealed ways.

It was at this point that the famed "Charismatic movement" of the 60's and 70's miserably failed. During that brief and pleasant revival of spiritual life, those who received the baptism of the Spirit were taught to return to the dead denominations from which they had come, when they should have been taught to flee from those spiritual cesspools. They had to hate (ignore) their various brands of Christianity to receive the holy Ghost, but then they were commanded by leaders of the movement to return to those places: in effect, stop hating as God hates, and return to those deathtraps. As a result, the whole movement withered and became nothing more than a confused, contemptible mass of contradictory teaching.

God began that time of wonderful refreshing when He by-passed the dried-up pentecostal denominations, who since the Azusa Street revival at the turn of the century seemed to have a virtual lock on who received the Spirit. It appeared that if a person became hungry for God, that person had to leave his denomination and find a pentecostal meeting to be filled with the Spirit, because anyone filled with the Spirit was persona non grata in the established churches of Christianity. And those people were rightly expected by leaders of the pentecostal groups to remain with those who were of like faith. That is why pentecostal denominations survived longer than the "charismatic movement" did. But as those pentecostal groups returned, step by step, to Christianity's ways of worship, as their hatred of man's ways died, they became just another deadened part of Christianity, and God by-passed them altogether to reach hungry souls, resulting in the "charismatic movement": people from all parts of Christianity - and from outside it - receiving His new-birth baptism without attending established pentecostal steeplehouses.

If they could only have understood it! Pentecostals were being told by God, "You have become just something else for my people to hate (come out of and ignore), just as your fathers had to hate (come out of) the old-line denominations in their day to receive My blessing." You see, the call of God to come out of Christianity is a call to hate it as He hates it, not with sarcasm and ill-will, but by ignoring it and choosing Him. Nearly all Christians and non-Christians alike misunderstand the choice we have made, and they suspect that we who have chosen God's way hate them. And in a way, God's loving way, they are right.

The ones who love God are put in a difficult position in this wicked world. Being constantly misunderstood, we regularly have to make difficult decisions. If we choose one way, men will hate us with their brand of hatred but God will love us; if we chose the other, God will hate us (choose others for His blessing) but men will love us. Faced with this challenge, the wise virgin prefers to exercise the hatred of God rather than the hatred of men, and to receive the hatred of men rather than the hatred of God.

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