Why is Hatred Such a Serious Sin?

This week in one of the church’s Bible studies we were asked the question

“Why is hatred so serious a sin?”

And as I started to think through the answer of this I was brought to many different verses and ideas on why hate is such a serious issue in the believers life. I have outlined my findings below.

Hatred in the heart of God’s People is rebellion against God

 (Lev 19:17-18 ESV) 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

We see that as far back as the Old Testament book of Leviticus that God was concerned about hatred in the heart of His people.  In this passage God also contrasts hate with love as the mark of His people when He commands them to not harbor hate in their hearts but to Love their neighbors as themselves.

In the New Testament, Jesus confirms the love that is expected from God’s people when he explains the greatest commandment to the scribe in Mark 12: 28b-32.

(Mark 12: 28b-32 ESV) “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.

Throughout the entire Bible we are called as believers to love other people. Therefore, if we harbor hate in our hearts toward another, we are disobeying God’s direct command to love and not hate.

Hatred in the Heart is a sign of our fallen condition

(1John 3:14-15 ESV) 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John outlines hatred in our heart as a signal of our sinful nature and that the love for others is an indication of our relationship with Christ and evidence of the eternal life we have in him. We should also notice the strict condemnation of hate which results in murder and no eternal life.

(Matt 15:18-20) 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Jesus outlines that our heart is the origin of our sin; it is what defiles us as believers. As outlined in the passage above, our hearts are the source for out hate through murder and other rebellious acts. We can see that hate comes from our heart as a result of our fallen nature separated from God.

Hatred in the Heart identifies you with the world

(Luke 6:22-23 ESV)   [22] “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

(1 John 3:13 ESV)  [13] Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

Jesus and John in these passages clearly describe the reaction of hate that the world will give to Christians based on their relationship with Christ. When it comes to the believer and the world we often see the characteristic of hate displayed in everyday life. Whether we are driving down the road, negotiating a business deal or trying to get through the grocery story, we see people act in hate toward one another intentionally and unintentionally. This is because our heart is naturally hateful and worldly.

In contrast to hate, the Scripture calls us to observe love in our lives.

(1 John 3:11 ESV)  [11] For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

(John 13:35 ESV) [35] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

(John 15:12-13 ESV) [12] “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. [13] Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Over and over the Scriptures call us to unity, community and love in the name of Him who gave us grace. We are called to Love and to be Loving. This is an outward indication of our internal salvation.

If you are not practicing love but practicing hate, you are aligning with the world.

So back to the Question;   Why is hatred such a serious sin?

1.       Hatred is complete rebellion against God

Knowing the command of God to love and not practicing it is rebellion.

2.       Hatred is the mark of our fallen nature

If you are a Christian and practicing hate, you are reverting back to your old nature. You have been made new in Christ. (2Cor.5:17) Walk in the newness of life and obey Him in loving your neighbor as yourself.

3.       Hatred is not aligning with God’s will for your life but identifying with the World

As Christians we will be identified with Christ inasmuch as we have love for one another. Failing to love as Christ as loved us is contradictory to the very Spirit that He has placed within us.

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