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.”