Psalms 5:4-5 – For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Now here is a verse of Holy Scripture that I have rarely heard preached, and when I have, I’ve scarcely heard it preached rightly. Usually, it’s preached by over-zealous young people who hold to Reformed theology but run with it to the extreme, and when they preach it, they preach it on the streets to various people walking by and tell them that God hates them because they are workers of iniquity. As people respond in anger, a debate is started and the sole object of the believer with the Bible in his hand is to bash the unbeliever with a revelation that God hates them as he explains that God only loves the elect but hates everyone else. Then, perhaps the worst part of it all, is that they think this is evangelism!
I do not accept such as evangelism. I may actually even lean more toward their theological understanding than I do toward the “free-will God loves everybody” camp, but I am ashamed to see such conduct. I believe the Gospel is “Good News”. If you never preach glad tidings of peace then you’re not preaching the Gospel and you’re not evangelizing.
Of course, we do have to share the “bad news” with people as well; the fact of God’s holy hatred against all sin, the fact that His Law is holy and just and good and that He has pronounced forth the sentence of wrath and eternal condemnation on all who violate His Law, the fact of His unbending justice and His obligation to punish all sin because of His holy nature, the fact that God is infinitely holy and man is utterly sinful, and that not even an eternity in the flames of eternal torment can even purge sin from the heart of man, hence the necessity of Hell’s eternal duration.
But we can’t stop there! The reason we share the bad news is so we can most MAGNIFY and EXALT and GLORIFY the Good News! The only begotten Son of God came down to die for sinners because of His great love, and rose again to give them new life, and ascended on high to give them of His glorious Spirit, and now intercedes for them at God’s right hand! He crushed death and hell and the serpent under His feet, and He cast the sins of all who believe into the depths of the ocean never to be seen or felt again! The sinless One became sin for us so that we can become the righteousness of God in Him! It was on the cross that He bore the stroke of God’s fierce anger and wrath against sin as He was crushed for our iniquities as our Substitute! He satisfied eternal justice on behalf of all who would believe, so that God may be just, and the justifier of Him who believes on Jesus! And He bestows His infinite riches and eternal grace and free mercy upon those who least deserve it! His love cannot even be described with words, for it is much better experienced than described! Hallelujah!
So what I’m saying is that there’s a precious balance here. We have to preach the whole counsel of God. We can’t just go around condemning everybody by telling them that God hates them because they are workers of iniquity. But at the same time, we can’t fail to tell them that God hates iniquity, and that there is a sense in which He utterly hates them if they are practicing it. We have to preach God’s holy hatred of sin and sinners who practice sin. We can’t only preach about the love of God and mercy of God and the pleasant things of God. We need to have the same balance that the Bible itself has. So don’t get me wrong, I am neither saying that we shouldn’t tell people of Psalm 5:5, nor am I saying that all we should preach is the things which are pleasant to the ears of the sons of men.
In fact, one of my favorite preachers to read and study is the late Jonathan Edwards. He is famous for his sermon, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”, and is very well known for his severe sermons against the ungodly and terrifying expositions on the doctrines of God’s wrath and Hell. But while almost everyone knows him for that, did you know, dear brethren, that Mr. Edwards also has some of the most beautiful sermons about the blessings and comforts of the saints and of the love of God toward His people, about the sweet refreshing presence of God and the joy and peace of the Holy Ghost?
So what I’m pleading for here is a return to the whole counsel of God. Brethren, don’t be ashamed of His words in Psalm 5:5. You don’t need to be ashamed for God, and you don’t need to apologize for Him. Everything in the Bible, and I mean EVERY THING that it lays an emphasis on in instructing us, is good for preaching. “ALL Scripture is… profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16). And I will even go so far to say that the holy hatred of God, explained rightly, needs to be preached today more than ever in our day of cotton candy ‘gospels’ of watered-down half-truths and sugarcoated soul stimulates. Multitudes have been inoculated against the true Gospel because they’ve been given a little shot of truth -now they are immune to the real counsel of God and it’s very unlikely that they ever catch the full blown “Gospel disease” of being infatuated with pure love for Jesus Christ. The only thing that’s going to reverse the effects of all the damage that’s been done is to once again exalt the majesty and holiness of God in His justice and wrath against sin in the hope that the Holy Spirit will show to such ones their truly undone and wretched condition so that they will once against hunger and thirst for righteousness and cry out for the real salvation of the Lord.
Psalm 5:5 here presents to us an attribute of God, the true God, that we rarely hear about. He has no pleasure in wickedness, and He cannot wink upon willful sin. No evil will dwell with Him, for He is holy. He is entirely separate from sin and sinners. The foolish who scorn the weight of His commands and reject the fear of the Lord shall not stand in His sight, they shall be cut down with the sword of His vengeance and hacked in pieces like Agag was by the sword of Samuel (1 Sam. 15:33). And the God of Israel, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, hates those who practice iniquity with an intense, holy hatred against them. Notice it doesn’t say that He just hates their sin, but that He hates them because of their sin. He won’t just cast their sin into Hell, but He will throw the persons into Hell because of their sin. This is what the text says, and I cannot change it, nor would I dare to try!
God loves the world, certainly. He loves the world so much, with such a great, grand love, that He gave His only begotten Son to save those who will believe (John 3:16). In the sense of our salvation, brethren, we know that His love triumphed over His hatred and that this was possible because mercy and justice kissed at the cross. God’s justice can be fulfilled, and He can show mercy to sinners for Christ’s sake. And yet we must hold true to the whole counsel of God. In the case of the saints, they are saved to the praise of the glory of His grace. Yet in the case of the wicked, they are damned to the praise of the glory of His justice and wrath.
There is no contradiction here. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. This God is beyond our comprehension. His thoughts are high above ours. We may not understand Him completely, no more than Job did throughout the book which bears his name, but we are not told to fit the infinite God into our finite minds. Rather we are told to forsake the reasoning of our own thoughts and to renew our minds with the thoughts which God has revealed about Himself in His Word. Though we cannot understand Him completely, we have to accept what is revealed of Him, and we dare not push the knowledge of God in any of His attributes from our puny minds just because we’re not able to scale and conquer the Himalayas of His infinite truth. There may be something of a divine paradox displayed before our eyes between Psalm 5:5 and John 3:16, but there is certainly no contradiction in the mind of the Lord. It all flows together as a beautifully woven garment in the tapestry of God’s counsel and revelation.
Let us fear this God of love, because He loves holiness, truth, and His own glory. But thanks be to Him, He also loves sinners who He chose to become the objects of His grace to bestow His great riches and mercy upon for all of eternity. We are all at His mercy.