This question was asked via our chat service, a short question with a long answer. How do you get rid of hatred? As with all others sins, first of all . . .
Identify the root of your hatred
Set some time aside, go into a quiet room, or find a quiet place where you can sit and think through the situation and figure out why you hate this person. What is it about this person what causes you to have such negative emotions? You may say, “this person has done me wrong”. I understand. The question that you need to ask yourself is, “why can I not forgive this person and why do I continue to treat this person the way that I do?”.
If you are a child of God then you have the power to forgive
Always remind yourself of the challenge that God gives to us in His Word, that we as believers are to treat others with gentleness.
3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3)
If you are a child of God then you realize the sinful lifestyle that you lived before becoming a child of God and experiencing God’s mercy, grace, and especially His forgiveness. Once you realize how much God has forgiven you then it is not difficult for you to forgive others, extending that same forgiveness that you received to others.
You cannot overcome hate if you live in darkness
In John’s first epistle we find the following:
9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (I John 2)
The apostle John uses symbolism here to explain that those who live in the darkness live in the old way of life of sin and disobedience to God while those who live in the light live in the new way of life, a righteous lifestyle seen through obedience to God. People who do not know God, that is, they have not entered into the New Covenant and they have not been born again, they do not know where they are going because the darkness (sin) has blinded them. Therefore . . .
You must be born again in order to be free from hatred
Being born again takes place when a person chooses to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart and enters into the New Covenant with Him. He chooses to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ faithfully dedicated to obeying Him according to His Word from now on. At this moment, the person becomes a true Christian and receives the Holy Spirit into his life which gives him the power to overcome any sin, including hate. As you can see, hatred is a way of life for a nonbeliever but not for the believer. The new birth in Jesus Christ gives us the power to overcome the power of sin, sins that nonbelievers greedily practice and cannot overcome even when they want to because this freedom and victory over sin only comes through God’s power delivered through the Holy Spirit when a person is born again as it is written:
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments ; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world ; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God ? (I John 5)
But someone may ask . . .
Why are some people enslaved by hatred yet claim to be children of God?
One response to this question has already been stated, they may not be children of God even though they claim to be with their mouths, their actions demonstrate that they are controlled by hatred (sin) and are not children of God. The Apostle John shares the following on this topic:
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous ; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil ; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious : anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (I John 3)
If you cannot overcome hate, if you cannot forgive and you remain in this state of hatred then you need to evaluate yourself and your so called relationship with God to make sure that you really are a true child of God. Maybe you have been deceived or you have been deceiving yourself by claiming to be a child of God. Are you sure that you have been born again or are you trying to overcome the power of sin using the power of your sinful flesh? If that is the case then do not waste your time trying. Hatred is part of the flesh and it cannot be overcome without the power of the Holy Spirit, just like any other form of sin. You must understand that if you do not have the Holy Spirit and have never been born again then you will never be successful in your battle with sin, hatred or any other sin. The only way that you are able to victorious is through being born again.
The moment that you are born again you receive the love of God
When a person decides to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ and follow Him fully, then that person not only receives the power of God to overcome sin but he also receives the love of God which he is not able to show toward those whom he hated before.
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5)
We are now able to love those whom we hated before. We hated with our fleshly hatred but now we love with God’s heavenly love which is much greater than any form of earthly love.
But you may say . . .
Even as a child of God, I have become obsessed with hatred
Yes, this is also possible. When we are born again, we receive a new nature but we still live in a fleshly body with its sin nature. Before coming to Christ, we are enslaved by our master, the flesh but once we come to Christ, all things change. Now the Holy Spirit has power over the flesh and we have to be obedient to Him. Now we must constantly choose between being lead by the Holy Spirit or giving into the desires of the flesh. The Christian lifestyle is one of constant sanctification (being made better and better, more and more obedient) and that is why every child of God must be disciplined in his spiritual walk. He will learn day by day how to be victorious over the flesh. That is why God challenges us to live by the Spirit’s leading:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh ; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control ; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5)
The lifestyle that we lived before coming to Christ (our actions) are called “the old self” in this passage. The Christian is constantly setting aside the “old self” and putting on the deeds of righteousness.
22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4)
A person who is a child of God yet cannot overcome hatred needs to make a firm decision in his heart to obey the Spirit’s leading and take off the old self and its destructive and deceptive desires. He needs to renew his mind daily and this comes through daily Bible study. He needs to set aside time for prayer and fasting specifically for overcoming hatred.
Do not allow the evil one the chance to raise speculations in your mind
A true Christian knows that he faces spiritual warfare on a daily basis. Like in the battles of all wars, the enemy, Satan, wants to gain ground that does not belong to him, our minds. He wants to gain ground little by little until he is able to be in control of the territory of our minds. Hatred is a stronghold that Satan wants to raise in a Christian’s mind. The Apostle Paul understood this concept and tactic and that is why he wrote the following:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (II Corinthians 10)
Hatred is a stronghold that Satan raises little by little until he gets it where he wants it and then he uses it to hold you captive and beat you down with it. How does it happen? How does it begin? It starts with small conflicts that grow, that you do not resolve and over a period of time the seeds of hatred are planted, watered, fertilized, and grow until you become obsessed with hatred and enslaved. Do not allow Satan to gain ground because he will rob you of your joy. Follow God’s advice which is:
26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN ; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4)
If you have experienced conflict and do not quickly seek to resolve it then you give the Devil an opportunity to raise up a stronghold of hatred in your mind which will overtake you causing obsession with hatred. Maybe while reading this article you have realized that this is your situation. You are obsessed with hated and controlled by it but you do not know . . .
How to find relief from this hatred which controls you
You need to repent. This is God’s solution and there is no other. You must confess your sin to God and to the person against whom you harbor this hatred. You must ask for forgiveness and leave the hatred behind. In fact, you need to do good for the person whom you have hated, according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven ; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have ? Do not even the tax collectors do the same ? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same ? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5)
If you are a born again Christian, then think about specific good things that you can do for the person whom you have hated and then pray for that person and the opportunity to perform those good things. If you are not a child of God then you need to enter the New Covenant as soon as possible. Make the decision to follow Jesus, choosing to be a true disciple. Find a good church that teaches the Scriptures and begin attending that church on a regular basis so that you can become a member of Jesus Christ’s church. May God help us and bless us.
Translation by: Erik Brewer