Getting Clear about Hatred and Evil


A sermon preached on September 6, 2020 based upon Romans

12:9 – 21 entitled “Getting Clear about Hatred and Evil.”

In Paul’s letters, he typically spends the early parts describing the Gospel

as he has come to know it – that we are saved by a grace that transforms

us and not by works of the law. In the latter parts of his letters Paul

proceeds to get down to brass tacks regarding what the new life in Christ

looks like on a practical level, and that is what we have before us today.

(There is a video of 14 members of our church reading this passage on our

Facebook page.) There is much to ponder here. My attention was caught

What caught by the first and last verses:

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.”

“Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

All told, the word “evil” appears five times in our reading.

Everybody seems to agree that there is a whole lot of evil in the world

these days. There is, however great disagreement regarding where evil is

most prominently on display.

For me the easiest way to think of the nature of evil is found in the odd

fact that “evil” is “live” spelled backwards. Evil is that power at work in the

world that diminishes and destroys life. It comes in a multitude of forms.

I was also struck by Paul’s use of the word “hate.” “Hate what is evil,” he


And we should. We should passionately hate “racism”, we should

passionately “hate” violence in all its forms, including the destructive

violence presently being committed in the rioting in certain cities.

But here’s the distinction that gets lost. We are to hate evil, but we are

not permitted to hate people. People at their core cannot be evil. We are

all made good by God — in “God’s image and likeness.”