Theme: Loving God and Hating Sin
From this psalm, we are reminded that because God is sovereign and righteous, we are to hate sin and rejoice in him.
Scripture: Psalm 97:1-12
We do not naturally hate evil. In fact, the opposite is the case. We naturally love sin. We are intrigued by wrong in other people, and we do not want to part with the sins we ourselves are practicing. We must learn to hate sin, and we will, if we are getting to know God. If we do not, we will increasingly hate God. We see an illustration of this in the way the masses reacted to Jesus Christ during his time on earth. Some people saw his holiness, learned to hate sin and became his disciples. Others saw him, hated him for exposing their sin as sin and eventually crucified him. If you love God and are coming to know him, you will hate sin simply because it is contrary to the character of the one you now love.
How do you know if you are really coming to hate evil? That is a good question and one well worth pondering, since we are prone to think better of ourselves than we should and deceive ourselves. Richard Sibbes was one of the great Puritan divines, and like many of them he often thought about the nature of human personality and how we can examine ourselves profitably. When he turned to this question he observed that since hating sin is a proof of our conversion, it is important that we know if we truly hate it. The way to know that we hate evil is:
1. If our hatred of sin is universal. That is, the one who hates sin truly, hates all kinds of sin.
2. If our hatred of sin is fixed. There should be no appeasing of sin but rather an abolishing of the thing hated.
3. If our hatred of sin is a more rooted affection than anger. Anger may be appeased, but hatred remains and opposes the hated object.
4. If we hate sin wherever it is found. We must hate sin in others but especially in ourselves. “He that hates a toad would hate it most in his own bosom,” said Sibbes. “Many, like Judah, are severe in censuring others (Gen. 38:24) but partial to themselves.”
5. If we hate the greatest sin in the greatest measure. That is, if we hate all sins in a just proportion, not being offended by the slight flaw in another while overlooking a much greater offense in ourselves.
6. If we can be reproved for sin, and not get angry. If we truly hate sin, we will welcome whatever help we may get in dealing with it and driving it from our lives. “Those that swell against reproof do not appear to hate sin,” wrote this great Puritan.1
“Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.” This is where the psalm ends. It began by calling upon the people of the whole earth to rejoice in God’s rule (v. 1). It ends by calling upon us to lead the way in this worship. Shall we not do it? If we do not praise God joyfully, who will? If we do not praise him now, when will we?
1Cited by Charles Haddon Spurgeon in The Treasury of David, vol. 2b, Psalms 88-110 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), p. 205.
Why does one who loves God hate sin?
Review the six ways of determining if we hate evil. Meditate on each idea and ask the Lord to help you hate sin and rejoice in him.
Reflection: Are you quick to point out other people’s sins and ignore or try to excuse your own sins?
Application: How have you changed since becoming a Christian? List sins you used to love and now hate.
For Further Study: From a study of the Psalms, we can learn more of who God is and what he expects from us as his people. Pick up your copy of James Boice’s careful and practical study of the entire 150 psalms, and take 25% off the regular price.