The short answer to the question of “does God hate me?” is “no.” If you are a human being, then you have been designed by your Creator to reflect His own image (Genesis 1:27). God loves what He created, and He especially loves human beings because we are the most like Him. So why do some people assume God hates them?
There are three key reasons that cause some people to believe that their Creator hates them:
1. Sin. The first and most obvious problem is the fact that God is perfect and we are not (Romans 3:23). Our sin mars the image of God so that His goodness and likeness cannot be readily seen in us. Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, human beings are predisposed to want to be our own gods (Genesis 3:1–6). We don’t want a Supreme Ruler to tell us what to do. That rebellion against our Creator is the essence of sin. Sin is a matter of the heart. It may manifest itself in obvious ways, such as murder. Or it may manifest in more socially acceptable ways, such as ambition, lust, or greed. But in the heart sin is sin, and it puts distance between us and God.
If God hated us because of our sin, He would have wiped out Adam and Eve when they disobeyed Him. But, because God had already created them with an eternal spirit such as He has, He wanted them to be with Him forever. So God entered their world and did for them what they could not do for themselves—He covered their sin (Genesis 3:21). He’s still doing that. When He took on human flesh and entered our world as Jesus Christ, He was demonstrating how much He loves us (John 3:16–18; Philippians 2:5–11). Jesus shed His own blood to cover our sin so that “whosoever believes in Him will not perish” (John 3:16, 36). This believing means that we acknowledge His right to rule over us. We voluntarily relinquish our insistence upon being our own gods and call Him Lord of our lives (Romans 10:8–10). God then adopts us as His own beloved children (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1). As His children, we have the freedom to come to Him anytime (Hebrews 4:16), find forgiveness when we mess up (1 John 1:9), and live in joyful anticipation of an eternal life in heaven with Him (1 John 5:13).
2. Flawed understanding of God. Another reason people develop the idea that God hates them is that they have formed a twisted idea of who He is. The world is drowning in twisted ideas. Every manmade religion has its own definition of an almighty Being or supreme force, most of which is human invention. Those who have been raised in such a religious climate can find it difficult to shed the false teachings about God and embrace truth. Even some Christian denominations start with the God of the Bible but emphasize certain traits to the exclusion of others and present a warped view of God’s nature. Some people have been taught that He is angry with them, that they can never please Him, or that He has favorites and they’re not it. This kind of erroneous teaching can set them up for a lifetime of believing that there is no way God would ever want to draw near to them.
This false theology contradicts the true teachings of God’s Word. James 4:7–10 gives us a snapshot of what it takes to be accepted into God’s presence: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
This passage lists several action words that reveal a God who longs for us to know Him. We are told to do these things:
• submit to God,
• resist Satan,
• draw near to God,
• cleanse our lives of evil actions,
• let Jesus purify our hearts,
• and humble ourselves before God.
We cannot draw near to God if we won’t submit to Him. We submit to Him by obeying His Word and resisting Satan’s traps, lies, and temptations. When we recognize and avoid the traps of the devil, we can cleanse our lives of the actions that followed those lies. Once we recognize our sin, we ask Jesus to forgive and purify us. Of course, none of this is possible unless we are willing to humble ourselves before the Lord.
3. Pride. The lack of humility is another reason people decide God hates them. When they ask, “Does God hate me,” what they often mean is, “Will God accept me and this pet sin of mine that I do not intend to change?” The clear answer from Scripture is “no.” When we define ourselves by a certain sin, that means we are unwilling to allow Jesus to give us His identity (Romans 8:29). Repentance is part of salvation, and we cannot accept the new nature He provides (2 Corinthians 5:17) if we will not let go of the old one (Luke 9:23). Pride insists that God must do it our way—and when He refuses to bend for us, we decide He hates us. But He refuses to bend for us because He loves us (John 3:16–18). If His way is the right way, then the only loving thing He can do is to insist that we do things His way. To allow anything less is not loving at all.
Pride was the first sin (Isaiah 14:12–14) and the sin that corrupted humanity (Genesis 3:5–6; 1 John 2:15–16). Pride will go along with God on some things but insists on having the final vote. When we exalt ourselves as God’s judge and jury, we are living in pride. When we pass judgment on His Word rather than allowing it to judge us, we are walking in pride (Psalm 119:105). Pride convinces us that God’s unchanging standard is proof that He hates us. So, many times, people who declare that God hates them are defining themselves by a sin and demanding that God accept that sin. He will accept people, but they must cast off pride and confess their sin, agreeing with Him about the sin they are defending (John 6:37; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11).
God does not hate anyone. However, those who, by their life choices, set themselves against Him cannot expect His blessing and protection (1 Samuel 2:30; Malachi 2:2). Those who choose rebellion against God’s plan for their lives will experience the consequences of their choices (Matthew 7:13–14; 25:41; John 3:36). They will spend an eternity recognizing the rightness of their punishment for rejecting the sacrifice God’s Son made on their behalf (Luke 16:19–31; Hebrews 10:29). The good news is that we never have to experience God’s righteous wrath upon our sin if we accept Jesus as our substitute (Romans 1:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He took our punishment so that God’s love, not His wrath, could define our lives. If we reject all His attempts to bring us to Himself, He rejects us in the end and allows us to suffer the consequences (Psalm 119:118). As Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”