The reality of being human includes making mistakes, often choosing destructive patterns over God’s best for us, and sometimes acting in ways that harm others. The good news of the Gospel is that those mistakes do not define us. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are defined by redemption—not our sins. While we might hate what we do sometimes, that is a separate thing from hating who we are. So let’s talk a little about who we are!
Let’s start by orienting ourselves around what God says about us to help us see if thoughts of self-hatred line up with His heart. In the Bible, we learn that:
When we look at those collected statements from the Bible about how God sees us, it’s hard to imagine that there is any room for self-hatred. God certainly does not hate us—in fact, the opposite is true. To hate ourselves is not in alignment with how HE feels about us.
Self-hatred does not align with what God says about us, but it does align with what Satan says. Did you know that in Hebrew, the name “Satan” actually means “The Accuser"? When Revelation 12:10 talks about Satan’s downfall, it quite plainly identifies him as the “accuser of the brethren.”
I am not suggesting that all thoughts of self-hatred are planted in your head by Satan—only that they mirror the kinds of things he says about us. Thoughts of self-hatred are a natural result of a broken world in which we sometimes do terrible things, and terrible things are sometimes done to us. We also might hate ourselves when there are parts of our life where we are still afraid to fully accept God’s grace, or when someone has abused us and taught us to see ourselves as worthless.
Keeping in mind the kinds of things that God says versus the kinds of things that Satan says can help you identify what’s true when those moments come. If there is a thought of accusation or worthlessness that aligns much more closely to what evil says about you, then you can be sure that is not what God says.
If you’ve been going to church for a while, you might have heard people talking about being “convicted” of things that they are doing wrong. They likely say that they feel God is directing them to change. It can be easy to confuse self-hatred with that gentle Holy Spirit nudge of conviction.
One of my favorite places that the Bible separates the two is in 2 Corinthians 7:8-12. In verse 10, Paul writes, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” So if you’re wondering whether what you’re experiencing is conviction (“godly sorrow”) or self-hatred (“worldly sorrow”), ask yourself, “What is this feeling pushing me to do?”
If the feeling is spurring you on towards changing your behavior to healthier, more God-honoring habits, then it’s conviction. But if the feeling is pressing you into paralyzing shame, depression, coping through addictive or unhealthy behaviors, or lashing out at others, chances are that’s self-hatred.
Put simply: conviction gets us moving; self-hatred keeps us stuck.
If we’re not supposed to hate ourselves, no matter how many times we make mistakes, how should we view ourselves?
There’s a lot of talk in pop culture right now about self-love. This is a case where culture’s idea is an echo of the truth: valuing yourself and your well-being radically is a form of worshipping God (Romans 12:1-2). It’s a way of acknowledging that when God created humanity and “saw that it was good” (as we see in Genesis 1), He meant it. To take care of yourself is to say, “Yes God, when You say that I matter, I believe You. I want to affirm that with my actions.” There are a lot of practical benefits to that mindset too; for more on this, we’ve got an article about when you should put yourself before others.
Remember that loving yourself does not look like some vague, warm and fuzzy idea of just "being nice." Loving yourself the way God loves you means seeking the absolute best, most whole, most Christlike version of yourself. Sometimes, loving yourself also means making sacrifices and walking in humility.
Hopefully this has been a good start at helping you understand that if you struggle with self-hatred, those thoughts are not the things God thinks of you. And if you find yourself beating yourself up for feeling self-hatred because it’s not biblical, please be encouraged that there is good news: there’s grace for that too! God’s love is patient, and He’ll stay with you no matter how long it takes for you to see yourself the way He does.
Self-hatred does not align with how the Bible shows that God views us. He sees us as wonderfully made masterpieces (Psalm 139:14; Ephesians 2:10) who He has adopted as His children (1 John 3:1). If you are often paralyzed by self-hatred because of mistakes you’ve made, know that what you DO is not who you ARE, and God’s love is patient in teaching you how to see yourself the way He does.
Mary is a fan of stories about grace—whether they show up in writing, music, or photography form. She's been listening to and telling those stories as a professional writer for over 10 years. Mary is the founder and editor of Rock on Purpose, where she talks about rock music centered around truth and redemptive justice.