Welcome back to the Ask Pastor John podcast with John Piper. Yesterday we talked about where Satan’s very first impulse for sin originated. Today, Josh in Australia, writes in with a short and simple, but pretty profound, question: “Pastor John, should I hate Satan? And does God himself hate Satan? Is hatred too strong?”
What Is Hate?
Let’s begin, as we do so often, with a definition. I can’t get anywhere without a definition. What exactly is “hate” or “hatred”? When we are considering love — this is the flip side of hate — we need to remember that both of them are used in two fairly distinct ways.
“I think it is right to say that we should hate Satan, and that God himself hates Satan.”
For example, love may mean being pleased with the loveliness and the beauty of something. So I might say, “Oh, I love that painting.” Or, “I love it when you treat your little brother that way.” But there is the other kind of love which, regardless of whether the object is lovely or pleasing, chooses, desires to seek the benefit of the person or the thing that is loved. So Jesus requires that we love our enemies, and these enemies may be very unlovely and morally corrupt and extremely displeasing to us.
The second kind of love still holds. We treat them better than they deserve. We seek their good. It is the same way, flip it around, with hatred. It can mean intense disapproval or dislike for what is evil or ugly or distasteful, as when I say, “I hate mushrooms” or “I hate abortion.” But on the other hand, as with love, hatred can refer to an intense desire or choice that someone would suffer, would be judged, or that they be ruined or destroyed.
So when we talk about hating Satan, I think it is right to say that we should hate Satan in both of these senses and that God himself hates Satan in both of these senses. There are at least two reasons why I say this:
1. The Scriptures teach that God hates the wicked and the impenitent people in both senses. And the Bible also shows that there comes a point where we should properly join him in at least some sense of hating the wicked, as God is hating them in that way. Not only strongly, being strongly displeased, but also in rare cases willing their judgment. That is the first reason.
2. I think he hates Satan in both those senses, and we should too, because Satan is beyond repentance. The desire for his conversion is never considered virtuous or even present in the Bible.
Abhor What Is Evil
Let me illustrate the point that is really controversial, I am sure — that I am arguing from God’s hatred of people to his hatred of Satan. Because the Bible never says, “God hates Satan.” But it clearly implies it, I think.
Hebrews 1:8–9 says this about the Son of God: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” So we know that God and his Son hate wickedness.
“As those who fear God, we should join him in the hatred of what is evil.”
Similarly, we as those who fear God join him in the hatred of what is evil. This is Proverbs 8:13: “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” And Romans 12:9 says, “Abhor what is evil.” And so it is with wicked and impenitent people, not just actions.
So we have just seen that we are supposed to hate actions. Nobody would disagree with that, probably. The Lord may choose to set his face against evildoers temporarily or eternally and do them no injustice.
He owes us nothing. We deserve only punishment because of the universal sinfulness of the human race. So we read, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13). Or Psalm 5:4–5, “You are not a God who delights in wickedness; . . . You hate all evildoers.” Or Psalm 11:5, “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked.” Or Psalm 2:4, “He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord holds them in derision.”
Hating Wicked People
So the Bible gives examples of not only God hating the wicked, but the psalmists themselves, the human writers under God’s inspiration, expressing the same hate of evildoers. These are sometimes called imprecatory psalms.
Some Bible teachers say, “They are really not part of God’s inspired word, and they were used and loved by people who didn’t understand.” But I say, “Whoa, wait a minute. They were used and loved by Jesus and by Paul, especially Psalm 69, one of the most severe imprecatory psalms. And both Jesus and Paul cited it as exemplary and embraced it as part of what they thought.”
We have, for example, Psalm 31:6, “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.” Or Psalm 119:113, “I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.” Or Psalm 139:21–22, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred.”
Now some of these psalms may be expressions of God himself or the Messiah speaking through the psalmist. So these are like messianic psalms with the psalmist assuming the role of God or of the Messiah as he speaks. So we have to be very careful how to apply the right to pronounce judgment ourselves. That aspect may be fitting for them and not always fitting for ourselves.
Commanded to Hate
So in the light of all these texts and others, I say: Since Satan is the source and embodiment of all wickedness, God and the godly should, indeed, hate him, meaning both in a sense of intense disapproval and in the sense of intense desire for his judgment and dispatching out of history and out of influence into the lake of fire.
“Since Satan is the source and embodiment of all wickedness, God and the godly should, indeed, hate him.”
I think this is confirmed by the fact that Satan is beyond repentance, and never in the Bible is any thought of praying for Satan or wishing for Satan’s conversion mentioned or considered virtuous.
One of the reasons I think we are commanded in Romans 12:9 to “abhor what is evil [and] hold fast to what is good” is that you really can’t love the good without hating evil. In order to hold fast to what is good and cherish the good and want the good to prevail and want people to experience good, you must hate what is evil and you must hate the one whose heart is impenitent and the fountain of all evil. Not to hate an impenitent fountain of evil is not to love the good. So yes, I think God hates Satan in both of those senses and I think we should, too.