Perhaps the most distinguishing mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ is an active and consistent quest for holiness in every area of their life. Thus the true child of God possesses an observable desire for moral purity, for holiness and for righteousness. The other side of that coin is that the true disciple of Jesus hates and attacks all remaining, indwelling sin. The disciple actively seeks to have less and less sin in their life, and when sin is discovered, the disciple repents and seeks to drive out the sin.
The psalmist says, “Hate evil, you who love the LORD.” Psalm 97:10
This instruction is given as a command. This hatred of evil is not optional. “You who love the LORD” is an Old Testament expression for a true follower of YHWH. If you love the LORD, then you are to hate evil. And if you do not hate evil, but continue to cherish and to indulge and to tolerate evil, it is evidence that you do not love the LORD, regardless of what you may say. This was true in the Old Testament before Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh, and it is more emphatically true now that Jesus Christ has come and died on the cross. “Hate evil, you who love the LORD.”
A number of Scriptures come to mind, which I will briefly cite and give comment.
2 Timothy 2:19 – “The Lord knows those who are His and let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.” While the Lord will never be confused or fooled about those who are true believers, the human is to give evidence, is to bear fruit of their conversion and of their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Here Paul tells us that the one who names the name of the Lord in truth is the one who actively and intentionally abstains from wickedness. In other words, the disciple hates evil.
Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The one who would be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven should thirst for righteousness. Jesus is here speaking of a burning desire, as of a man dying of thirst longing for a drink of water. There is nothing casual about this hunger and thirst. Just so the true disciple of Jesus longs to be righteous.
Matthew 5:29-30 – Jesus says that the one who would enter life (heaven) must be willing to forsake all known sin so that nothing will prevent them from entering. If your hand is evil, cut it off and throw it away. Another way of saying this is for you to hate evil.
Colossians 3:5 – “Put to death, therefore, whatever is in the members of your earthly body of immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” This is the old idea of mortification. Put to death any evil discovered in yourself. Slay it without mercy. There can be no tolerance for any indwelling sin, because to do so provides the devil with a foothold (Ephesians 4:27). Hate evil such that you put it to death.
The believer is holy in speech, in thought, in deeds and in actions. 1 Peter 1:15-16 (which is spoken to new believers) states: “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy.’“ Even those who are beginning their walk with Christ are called to be holy. Holiness is to begin when your walk with Christ begins.
While there may still be remaining sin, there remains no tolerance of sin in the believer.
So the disciple of Jesus Christ is not only to hunger for righteousness and to abstain from all wickedness (1 Thess. 5:22), but he or she is also to actively hate evil.
Consider Romans 7:15-25, especially 7:15. This passage is about the disciple’s ongoing and lifelong battle against the flesh and against the indwelling sin produced by the flesh. (“Flesh” is used in a technical sense here, not in the sense of the physical body.) Notice that in the passage Paul hates the evil produced by the flesh. Paul longs to be holy at all times, but because he is of flesh, sold into bondage to sin (7:14), his practice is not always holy, and he laments that shortfall. But there is more to it even than that, for in 7:15, when he is not holy, he is “doing the very thing that he hates.” The entire passage is about a man who hates the evil that he sees remaining in him and about his war to rid himself of this remaining sin. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?” (7:24) Paul hates evil and therefore longs to be set free from even his physical body, because the flesh in his body leads him into evil.
Just so, all disciples of Jesus Christ are to hate evil and to war against it.
As a result of this, the disciple of Jesus is on an ongoing seek and destroy mission, in which the disciple persistently examines his/her life to discover any remaining indwelling sin. When the hated sin (evil) is discovered, the disciple acts swiftly and decisively to eradicate the foul thing from his/her life.
“Hate evil, you who love the LORD.” Let us be holy, for He is holy. SDG rmb 2/3/2016