God is a tender, compassionate God who is rich in mercy and grace, but He is also a God of justice—One who hates and abhors sin in every form. Preachers often seem to fail in reminding people that while our God is essentially a God of love, He also has the capacity to hate.
John the Baptist’s preaching (in contrast to much of the preaching one hears today), was down-to-earth and right to the point. He cut no corners. He played no favorites. He had no reputation to defend. His delivery may not have been in line with good homiletics, but he spoke clearly and let the chips fall where they may. We will need to take the same approach as we examine the seven things that God hates, as outlined in Proverbs 6:16-19. The passage clearly declares that God hates a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. This is not a complete list of things that are an abomination to God. The word “abomination” appears 174 times in the Bible. In Proverbs 6 we are given a list of seven “specials”—seven things that are bad in the eyes of God. It is important for every Christian to take a serious look at those things which are horrible characteristics to God.
1. God Hates a Proud Look
Pride is basically an exaggerated sense of self-esteem. Pride is putting ourselves on a pedestal above others. Pride is an arrogant, almost boastful, inflated opinion of one’s own worth and ability. Pride takes many different forms:
There is a pride of intellect—an arrogance that assumes one knows more than others. We might excel in one area, but all of us are just plain stupid in other areas of knowledge.
There is a pride of power—the passion to achieve, to dominate, and to give orders.
There is a pride of nation—the deification of one’s national homeland, a false pride that results in racism and bigotry toward others.
There is a spiritual pride—the pride of those who glory in their own spiritual attainments. (If only everyone else in the church would be like we are—or think like we do!)
There is a pride of face—an unreasonable self-esteem connected with the way one appears on the outside.
Some say that it doesn’t matter how one grooms the body. They declare that pride is all in the heart. But Proverbs 6 says that God hates “a proud look”—and that’s on the outside! Surely the angels of God would shrink away from some of the fancy, fashionable, decorated church members of our day. In Heaven, such persons would not be satisfied at all. The simple white robes which the saints of God will wear in the eternal world would not suit their tastes! One of the things which God despises is “a proud look.” God’s people will focus on appearing with simplicity and modesty, and without any indication of vanity and haughtiness.
Over and over again, we are told in the Scriptures that God resists the proud. Over and over again, all of us should fall on our knees and ask God to deliver us from every trace of conceit and undue self-esteem.
2. God Hates a Lying Tongue
A “lie” is a statement that is distorted and untrue. It is a falsehood that causes an incorrect impression. A lie is any action that is intended to mislead, or to deceive another.
The Bible says that God hates every form of lying, and in fact God’s Word declares that no liar shall have any part in the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 21:8). A lying tongue is contrary to everything that is precious to God. Our God is a lover of truth (Numbers 23:19), and He loathes any activity that is contrary to the absolute truth.
There are many forms of lying, but the most common evidence of a lying tongue among some of God’s people is the activity of slander. Slander is the uttering of malicious charges which damage the reputation of others. Slander is usually done by twisting another’s words, by misquoting the statements of others, by repeating a story that reflects on the character of others, or by jumping to a quick conclusion about another person without knowing or carefully checking the facts.
Slander is often the result of gossip. Gossip is indulging in needless chatter about other people. It usually involves personal, detailed talk about unnecessary things. Gossipers do not necessarily try and deceive or twist words. They simply want to keep up to date about the details surrounding the lives of others, and so they usually have something new to tell about others. The persons who engage in idle chatter about the affairs of other people, share the information with others, and they in turn tell still others—and the final tale (after is passes through several heads) usually contains more falsehood than truth. And so the gossiper can easily become a party to passing on lies.
The early Pietists and Anabaptists were known for their modesty and reserve and quiet way of life. The Scriptures command a meek and quiet spirit. All of us need to resolve to live more quietly. He that has knowledge spares his words (Proverbs 17:27). One little proverbial saying expresses the truth this way: It is easier to learn to speak in several languages, than it is to be quiet in one. One of the most subtle ways for good well-meaning people to get caught up with lying, is to engage in passing along malicious reports about others—reports which are unkind and are frequently untrue.
3. God Hates Hands That Shed Innocent Blood
Human life is sacred to God. Death is a tremendous doorway, a doorway through which human beings pass into one of two eternal destinies. Only God has a right to open that door, and therefore the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
We all marvel at the progress made by the medical profession in securing and saving life, and yet at the same time all of us are probably shocked at how lightly the life of others is regarded in our day. In some of our big cities, more than a dozen persons are stabbed or shot and killed every weekend. Modern music, movies and television are filled with images of violence and killing. A society that allows television violence in the living room each evening, should not be surprised to find lawlessness and violence on the increase. One of our nation’s leading news magazines reported recently that by the age of 16, the average child sees 200,000 acts of violence on television. And children who watch violence on television become so insensitive to death, that when people are being killed, they sometimes giggle and crack jokes, and even applaud the one who is doing the killing. One of the most beneficial steps parents can take is to get rid of the television set, and the VCRs that go with it. God hates hands that shed innocent blood.
We must all be reminded too that killing during times of national warfare involves the shedding of innocent blood. It is the murder of the masses (by huge armies) instead of the murder of one person (by another person). It involves dropping bombs from airplanes which set on fire the bodies of many who are innocent. Killing in times of war is no different from the murder committed by gangsters and professional gunmen. In light of God’s respect for human life and His hatred for the shedding of human blood, does anyone think that God will look down on the bloody hands of a soldier on the judgment day and say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”?
Mother Teresa (winner of a Nobel Peace Prize) shared another important fact when she was speaking to a roomful of American political leaders. She tied the practice of abortion to the rising rates of violence in the streets. Mother Teresa said, “If we accept the policy that a mother may kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other?”
4. God Hates a Heart That Devises Wicked Plans
The “heart” is the seat of one’s physical, spiritual, and mental life. The word “heart” is used in Scripture to designate the whole inner person—including the motives, affections, feelings, desires, and thoughts. Proverbs 4:23 says that “out of the heart are the issues of life.”
Problems related to the heart are much discussed these days. People with high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol counts, are watching the progress of their hearts closely. But all of us have to deal with a heart disease of a different kind. Because “the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), we must guard carefully our actions and our speech, and especially our reactions to various situations that arise in life.
Someone surprises us with a question we would rather not answer, so we try to evade the truth.
Another car collides with our automobile, and we become upset and angry.
A fellow worker at our place of employment gives us a hard time, and we respond with sarcastic remarks.
These are problems of the heart. We might be able to keep calm when things go smoothly, but sudden stress reveals a heart that is not under control. Habits and actions and speech are all on the surface, and others can observe them in our daily living. But hidden at a deeper level, we have desires, thoughts, and motives—unseen and unknown by anyone until they express themselves in word or deed.
Man looks on the outward appearance, but “the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Or, as the Psalmist says, “God knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). The heart of each human being, in its unregenerate state—is a laboratory of evil, teeming with foul imaginations and often hatching out thoughts of revenge. And Christians who have not consistently cast down the imaginations of the carnal mind must keep alert, and must clean house.
Heart-keeping is much like house-keeping. There must be a continual sweeping out of dirt, and a cleaning out of rubbish. We are responsible for our thoughts, and while it is true that we cannot keep the devil from injecting evil thoughts into our minds, it is also true that we need not dwell upon such thoughts. Martin Luther’s statement is still true: “You cannot stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We are to place our thoughts into captivity and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This means that we must make deliberate efforts to censor what we read, to guard what we listen to, and to be careful what we laugh at. God hates hearts that devise wicked imaginations.
5. Feet That Are Swift in Running Into Mischief
If evil thoughts and imaginations are nurtured and fed, they eventually lead to outward acts of sin. Our feet follow where our hearts and minds and thoughts have already gone. Proverbs 23:7 says that as we think in our hearts, so are we. God hates feet that are swift to run into mischief.
The “mischief” spoken of in Proverbs 6:18 refers to evil actions of any kind. The book of synonyms (the Thesaurus) includes the following words as substitutes for “mischief”: impairment, damage, injury, harm, discord, conflict, friction, evil, destruction, etc. Mischief carries with it the idea of hurtful conduct which is often done only as a joke. It is closely related to “foolishness.” And we must remember that “foolishness” is one of the thirteen sins mentioned in Mark 7:22 where Jesus talks about theft and covetousness and blasphemy.
There is a proper place for teasing and good clean fun, but each of us must decide where the line is to be drawn between good clean humor, and what amounts to a pure waste of time and a mischievous use of words. Loud laughter and wise-cracking and foolish joking are really violations of God’s instruction in Colossians 4:5-6.
Many of the activities associated with the celebration of holidays (Christmas, New Year, Halloween, etc.) are examples of mischievous conduct. Vandalizing buildings, upsetting items of personal property, soaping windows, loud yelling, setting off fire-crackers, etc. are not in keeping with the quiet and peaceable life which we are to pray for (1 Timothy 2:2). God hates feet that run into mischief.
6. God Hates False Witnesses That Speak Lies
The lying tongue is an offense so serious that it is mentioned twice in this short series of abominable sins. In addition to gossiping, back-biting, and tale-bearing—it may in this case also refer to perjury when giving a testimony before a court of law. We are living in perilous times. A recent poll on truthfulness among Americans claims that “two out of every three Americans see nothing wrong with telling a lie.” One children’s magazine says that some lying (on the part of children) is considered normal, and in fact, the writer says that “a child’s first few lies are an important step in the development of self-confidence.”
Many who have professed faith in Christ are careful to avoid adultery and drunkenness and outright stealing—but at the same time there are some who seem to delight in assailing the character of others. They criticize and find fault and bear tales—often without knowing the reasons for the actions of those whom they criticize. Unnecessary information (gossip) is passed along to others. It would not be so bad if it would “go in one ear and out the other,” but it usually goes in one ear, gets all mixed up, and then slips out of the mouth of the person to whom it was told—and the final story has a lot of falsehood mixed with it.
God repeatedly warns against going up and down as a talebearer among the people (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 26:22). We are told in Isaiah 30:15 that “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” All of us need to pledge today to do less talking and more praying; to give less criticism and more affirmation; to be more strict with ourselves and more gracious toward others.
One little poem says, “There is a little door, that everyone can close, and that’s the little door, just underneath your nose.” If we do that, there will be less talebearing, and as a result, there will be less bearing false witness. God hates false witnesses who speak lies.
7. Those Who Sow Discord Among Brethren
God is pleased when He sees His children living together in harmony and peace. He is deeply troubled when discord and strife surface in the church.
The Thesaurus gives a whole list of words that can be substituted for “discord.” They are disagreement, disunity, disharmony, variance, conflict, noncooperation, friction, tension, enmity, etc. Some who profess faith in Christ are absolute experts at sowing discord. They thrive on tension and sarcasm. They put up roadblocks within the fellowship. They seem unaware of the fact that God says, “I hate discord.”
God has commissioned the church to spread the Gospel to a dying world, but many times we sit in our comfortable pews and shoot at the saints. But one who “speaks evil” of an absent person is giving evidence of a lack of love. There are probably no other sins named in the Bible that are condemned more severely than the sin of needlessly repeating the faults of other people. There is perhaps nothing that God hates more. Titus 3:2 says, “Speak evil of no man.” Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all evil speaking be put away from you.” James 4:11 says, “Speak not evil one of another.” If we see something in another person that needs correction, we should follow the instructions which Jesus gave as recorded in Matthew 18:15-17, and go and speak directly with the offending person. If the issue is not important enough to use that approach, then we need to pray for the brother or sister, and hope that God will bring change for the better. There is nothing the devil would rather do than disrupt the unity that should exist among God’s people in a local assembly. We must guard against getting caught up in a spirit of fault-finding and in this way sow discord among the brethren. God hates the sowing of discord and unrest among fellow believers.
We need to cooperate with God and seek more and more to sanctify our natures, so that gossiping and slandering and maligning others will increasingly disappear. God will not hold him guiltless who drives wedges between friends and family members and brothers and sisters in Christ.
These have been things which God hates. We must strive to increasingly love the things that God loves, and to hate those things that God hates.
Maybe someone who is reading this article is a member of the Christian church. You have been baptized and received into the fellowship of God’s people, but you have just been play-acting. Your heart has not been in it. You have not been trying to walk close to the Lord. If you have been straying and backsliding, there is no better time than today to start over. Remember one of the beautiful promises of the twenty-third Psalm: “He restoreth my soul.” If you will turn to the Lord in faith and repentance, and with a set-of-mind that is determined by the grace of God to walk according to His Word, there will be new power to move ahead victoriously.