Hate—Sin or the Sinner?
Prof. Dekker, in order to maintain that God loves all men, as he once more emphasizes in his article on “Telling the News to All Men,” attempts to base this heretical view on Scripture.
First of all, he tries to prove that God hates sin but loves the sinner. Writes he: “Among passages which speak unmistakably of hating sin rather than the sinner are the following”; here follow several references which we must briefly examine.
1. Psalm 101:3. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them: that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” On this I make the following remarks:
a. First of all, the psalmist speaks of himself, not of God. But the question is not whether the author of Ps. 101loves the wicked (which he does not; see below), but whether God loves him, for God loves all men! I challenge Prof. Dekker to quote one passage from Scripture in which it is shown that God hates the sin of the wicked, but loves his person. To my mind, Scripture teaches the very opposite. Read, for instance, Prov. 3:31-35: “Envy not thou the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the Lord, but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the Lord is in the house, of the wicked; but he blesseth the habitation of the just. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace to the lowly. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” Surely, Dekker must admit that these verses do not teach that God hates the sin of the wicked but that he loves his person.
b. But even apart from the fact that the psalmist in Ps. 101:3 does not speak of God but of himself, the context clearly shows that the poet does not only hate the sin of the ungodly but also his person. For there we read: “A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off: him that hath a high look and a proud heart will not I suffer . . . . He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry within my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land: that I may cut off all the wicked doers from the city of the Lord.”
I am really ashamed that a professor in Calvin Seminary can so quote at random, without any regard to the context, to prove his heretical proposition that God loves all men!
2. The next text to which Dekker refers is Psalm 119:104, which reads as follows: “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” And this is supposed to prove that God loves all men, even the though He hates their sin? Again I make the following remarks:
a. The text does not say one word about the attitude of God to the wicked. The poet speaks of his own attitude to the way of the wicked: he hates every false way. It goes without saying, of course, that God, too, hates every false way. But this is not the question and is not the point at issue. What Dekker must prove is that God, although He hates every false way, yet He loves the wicked that walks in this way. And this the text does not prove at all.
b. Again I say that, according to this same psalm, the very opposite is true. Thus, for instance in vs. 21 we read: “Thou hast rebuked the proud (not their pride, but the persons of the proud, H.H.), which are cursed (does God curse those whom He loves? H.H.), which do err from thy commandments.” In vss. 84, 85 the poet invokes God’s judgment on the wicked that persecute him: “When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.” Would Dekker also be able to utter this prayer? Or would he, perhaps say that this is a wicked prayer, seeing that God loves all men. Again, in vss. 118, 119 we read: “Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross.” Would Dekker, perhaps, claim that this must be interpreted as belonging to the Old Testament and in the light of progressive revelation.” But, then, how about the cry of the saints under the altar that was heard when the fifth seal was opened: “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Moreover, the Lord answered their prayer, “And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also, and their brethren, that should be killed even as they were, should be fulfilled.”
Again, I say that Prof. Dekker should not quote from Scripture at random, but should quote and explain any passage in the light of its context, and in the light of all Scripture.
3. The next passage to which Dekker refers is Proverbs 8:13. There we read: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”
a: Wisdom is speaking here.
b. I cannot possibly understand how Dekker can possibly explain .this text as meaning that God hates sin but loves the sinner. The text does not speak of this at all. The theory of Dekker rests really on the presupposition that God loves all men even though He hates their wickedness. But this is exactly what Dekker is supposed to prove. The text does not say anything like it. On the contrary, the text speaks of the froward mouth which, to my mind means the same thing as the froward speaker or the one that speaks frowardly.
c. Moreover, at the end of the chapter we read: “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all that hate me love death.” Still more, the whole book of Proverbs is full of the antithesis, as is well known. For this I can quote at random. God hates sin, but He loves the wicked? Certainly not according to the book of Proverbs. Take, for instance, Proverbs 10:3: “The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.” In vs. 6: “Blessings are upon the head of the righteous: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.” Or inProverbs 12:2: “A good man obtaineth favor of the Lord: but a man of wicked ,devices will he condemn.” But why quote more? It is simply not true that God hates sin but loves the sinner or the wicked.
4. Isaiah 61:8 we may omit, for it is addressed, not to the wicked, but to the people of God.
5. In Jeremiah 44:4, to which Dekker also refers to prove that God hates sin but loves the sinner, we read: “Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate.” Here, too, the implied interpretation which Dekker would give to this text is that God hates this “thing,” or this sin, but that He, nevertheless, loves those that commit it: I say, “the implied interpretation,” for, in the first place, the text itself does not speak of it; and, in the second place, Dekker does not offer any interpretation. If he had offered an explanation, he would needs have to have referred to the context that follows vs. 4. For there we read:
“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn incense unto other gods. Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled against the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day. Therefore now thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore do ye commit this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling out of Judah, to leave you none to remain, In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? . . . Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah.”
Does this sound as if the Lord hates the sin and wickedness of the apostate children of Israel, but loves their persons?
Far from it.
6. The same is true of the text in Amos 5:21: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.”
Again I remark that the presupposition of Dekker’s exegesis of this passage (although he never offers any explanation, but simply points. to the reference) would be that, although the Lord hates these solemn assemblies, He loves those that gather in those assemblies. But again, I remark that the text does not say one word about this. And I maintain that the very opposite supposition is much more to the point. Is it even possible that the Lord would hate and despise those assemblies and, therefore would refuse to be in their midst and even abhor the smell of them, but love them that are thus assembled?
O, to be sure, a remnant of the people of God always remains, but we may be sure that they are not found in the feasts and assemblies which, according to the text in Amos 5:21, the Lord hates.
7. The next passage to which Dekker refers is Zechariah 8:7. The text reads as follows: “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.”
The words are things do not occur in the original. We may better translate: “for all these I hate.” But this really makes no difference as to the meaning of the text. The only thing that matters here is that when the Lord says the Lord hates evil in the hearts of Israel and Judah and also the false oath, He also hates those that imagine evil in their hearts against the neighbor and that swear a false oath. It is this that Dekker denies; and he would maintain that, although He hates the things mentioned in the text, He nevertheless loves them that commit them. And again I say that there is nothing at all in the text that even suggests this. The Lord does not merely hate the evil which the sinner commits, but also the evil-doer unless, by the grace of God, he repents. The penitent sinner God, indeed, loves, not the impenitent.
God does not love all men!
8. It is somewhat difficult for me to understand why Dekker refers to the next passage, which is Romans 7:15. The text reads as follows: “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do.”
Now, it is very evident that the apostle here is not speaking of God and of His hatred, but of himself and of his own hatred. This is strongly expressed in the following context which is as follows: “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dweheth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil that I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” From all this it is very plain:
a. That the apostle is speaking, not of God, but of himself.
b. That he is speaking of his own hatred of his own sinful nature, not of the hatred of God against sin and the sinner.
c. That it ought to be very evident that Paul is speaking here of himself as a regenerated child of God and not, as some would have it, as a natural man. The natural man could never use such language.
But I say once more that I cannot understand why Dekker refers to this text to prove that God hates the sin of man but loves the sinner.
9. The final passage to which Dekker refers is Revelation 2:6: “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.”
As to these Nicolaitanes we can be brief. It seems that they were a sect characterized by living a sinful life. Hence “the deeds of the Nicolaitanes.” It is possible that vs. 2 also refers to them or that they are, at least, included in the statement: “thou canst not bear them that are evil.”
But the point which Dekker wants to emphasize is, of course, that the Lord speaks of the deeds of these evil men and not of their persons.
But this, in the first place, is nothing but a supposition: the Lord surely does not say that He hates the deeds of the Nicolaitanes but loves their persons. And, in the second place, is this even conceivable? The deeds of any person are inseparable from his person. They proceed from the heart and the heart is, from a spiritual ethical point of view the same as his person.
I claim, therefore, that, although the text speaks merely of God’s hating the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, He hates them, too, unless they repent of their evil deeds.
More next time, D.V.