God “hates the sin but loves the sinner.” Agree or disagree?
Well, God surely hates sin. No question about the attitude of a holy God towards sin.
God also surely loves sinners. After all, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…”
So we agree with the two statements, while at the same time we feel we need to add a third statement: “God hates the sin and hates the sinner and loves the sinner.”
Does God hate sinners, as opposed to just hating sin? On the basis of the clear words of Scripture, the answer has to be yes.
Consider these passages:
· Psalm 5:5, “The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity.”
· Psalm 11:5, “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”
· Leviticus 20:23, “Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I shall drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.”
· Isaiah 63:10, “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.”
· Jeremiah 12:7-8, “I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of her enemies. My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest. She roars at me; therefore I hate her.”
· Proverbs 6:16-19, “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”
· Hosea 9:15, “All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels.”
Sin is a terrible thing. It separates a person from God. God hates sin. But there’s more to it than that. Sin cannot be separated or dealt with apart from the sinner. We are moral beings ― what we do affects who we are. The passages above make no distinction between the sin and the sinner; God hates them both. It seems like some pretty tight philosophical hair-splitting to try to separate what we do from who we are.
God doesn’t send sin to hell, He sends sinners to hell. God didn’t punish the sins of the world on the cross. He punished Jesus. Look to God’s Word and read how serious He is about sin. Look at the cross of Christ and see how serious He is about sin.
At the same time, however, countless passages in the Bible teach us that God dearly loves the world of sinners, and every individual sinner too. He has provided full and free, unconditional and seriously-offered pardon and salvation for each sinner and for all sinners. The promises of God in the Gospel are for everyone at any time.
God loves sinners enough to send his only Son for them. He shows his love for sinners in that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. That is his word of Gospel for all of us sinners, which is never to be treated lightly or dismissed but only trusted in Spirit-wrought faith.
The reconciliation of God’s Law and Gospel, God’s hatred of sinners and His love for them, may be found in only one place: at the foot of the cross of Christ. Jesus Christ bore the divine hatred for a world of sinners and Jesus Christ perfectly displayed the divine love for all sinners. See in the cross the justice and mercy of God.
How can this be? How can such two contradictory feelings exist in the heart of God at one and the same time? I have no idea. But I rejoice that God’s Law calls me to repentance and faith when I begin to think of myself more highly than I ought, and I rejoice that God’s Gospel in Christ graciously promises me complete forgiveness when I begin to despair of my own sinfulness.
How can this be? How can such two contradictory feelings exist in the heart of God at one and the same time? I have no idea. But I read in God’s Word that it is so, and I take God at His Word.
“Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
(thanks to Deb for asking the question, and several random websites for their guidance in answering it.)