Reasons why we must “Hate What is Evil”
by Bishop Jacob Afolabi
What most ordinary Christians need to do is go deep with the Bible and believe and absorb and teach what it means and what it implies in its straight forward statements. If you do that—if you think your way down deep into the Bible, and let it shape your mind and heart–you will be spared many trendy detours that sound so up-to-date, but end in the destruction of lives.
Let our meditation today be on some parts of Romans 12:9 which says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is evil. Hold tightly to what is good.” (NLT). Today we focus on the words, “Abhor (hate) what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” If you will think and pray and obey your way down into this exhortation, you (and your children) will be liberated from many of the errors of this age—and of every age.
I see a few things to point out.
Firstly, when Apostle Paul says, “Hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good,” he is rejecting the notion that evil is defined by what I hate; and he is rejecting the notion that good is defined by what I hold tightly to. This is so simple and so obvious. If you teach your children verses like this often enough and deeply enough, they will absorb a whole biblical worldview for their great good.
They will absorb the view that good and evil are realities outside of them. The good and the evil don’t depend on us or our children to become good or evil. They are good or evil objectively. Good is not what you want to be good. And evil is not what you want to be evil. You don’t make it good or evil. In other words, good and evil don’t change, but we change. Our hearts can cling to things because we desire them, and our hearts can reject things intensely because we don’t desire them.
Paul says, here is good, and here is evil. Now bring your emotions and your will into conformity to what is objectively there. When you face the objective evil hate it. And when you face the objective good, embrace it.
Secondly, what makes good, good? And what makes evil, evil? In other words, how does it come about that there is such a thing as objective good and evil? Well, this verse doesn’t say. But we don’t have to look too far for the answer. In the previous verse 2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT).
The reason there is such a thing as objective good is that there is such a thing as “the will of God.” Or most simply, and most profoundly, the reason there is such a thing as objective good outside ourselves is that there is God outside of ourselves. And now, most specifically, God has made himself known objectively and historically in Jesus Christ in the Bible.
If there were no God then the good would be subjective, not objective. Good would be in the eye of the beholder, especially the strong beholder. Might would make right. But God does exist. And therefore might does not make right. The good and true and right and beautiful have objective foundation in God, and in his self-revelation through Jesus Christ.
Which means that the simplest people anywhere can say to the most powerful person anywhere, “No sir, this is wrong. And all your power does not make it right. There is God above you. And therefore right and wrong have objective reality apart from you.”
Oh, what a gift we give to our children when we teach them the simple, straightforward teachings of the Bible. Their implications are vast beyond our knowledge. In this one phrase there is a world of precious truth.
If there were a universe in which there was no evil that hurt people, there would be only love and no hate. There would be nothing to hate. But in a world like ours it is necessary not only that we love and hate, but that our love of something include also hate of something else.
God decides what is good and what is bad. Everyone agrees that love means, at least, doing things for people that are good for them, not bad for them. Which means that what God calls evil must be bad for people, and what God calls good must be good for people. (Romans 12:9).
About the writer
Nigerian-born Bishop Jacob Afolabi is Senior Pastor at the Christ Chapel Bible Church in Ottawa. He received the 2017 Black History Ottawa Community Builder award for his many years of community work, including founding the Ottawa Pastors’ forum, contributing inspiring articles in community newspapers and commentary on community radio stations, as well training a new generation of pastors. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.