Does God Hate The Sin But Love The Sinner?
“God hates the sin but loves the sinner…” So say many evangelicals. But is this Biblical?
Does God Hate The Sin But Love The Sinner?
“A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; and because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner (Psa. 7:11). The wrath of God is a perfection of the divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate that our hearts may be duly impressed by God's detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God's abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely are we to realize its heinousness.” ~ A.W. Pink
How many times have you heard someone say “God hates the sin but loves the sinner”? Usually people say this when someone confronts them of their sins. They will probably accompany the statement with “God knows my heart” or “who are you to judge?”. Most people don't have a problem with this statement, I mean, how can a God of love hate people.
Before we go too far, let's get one thing straight. God does hate. Even the statement itself acknowledges that “God hates the sin…” And yes God does love, or rather God is love (1 John 4:8). But all of God's attributes are perfect and holy. God loves with a perfect and holy love. He has holy wrath and perfect justice. He has perfect and holy hatred. If God says He hates something, then He hates it perfectly. If He says He loves something, He loves it perfectly.
God's attributes also work hand in hand. None of God's attributes is overshadowed by the other. His love cannot remove His hatred. His mercy cannot overshadow His justice. If you love babies you must hate abortion. And if God loves righteousness He must hate sin. If God is light, He must hate darkness. If He loves His glory, then He must hate being robbed of it and consequently the one who robs Him of His glory.
Does God hate sinners?
In a politically correct culture like ours, it sounds like blasphemy to even ask a question like that. How can a God of love hate? Here's the scenario:
God created all things for His pleasure and glory. Then man sinned in the garden of Eden. Why did man sin by the way? Because he wanted to be like God, he wanted to rob God of His glory. Then God cursed man. From that moment man has been trying to elevate himself and robbing God of His glory. We don't want to give God all the worship He deserves. It's all about us. When we sin, we are in a way saying to God that “we don't need You, we will rather worship and please ourselves instead!”
But that doesn't prove that God hates sinners, does it? Well, it might not, but if He does, then He has every right to be. If God does hate sinners, then He is perfectly just in doing so. So since the Bible is our only source of truth, we have to hear what God says Himself and not put words into His mouth.
“The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.” (Psalms 5:5)
“You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” (Psalms 5:6)
“God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalms 7:11)
“The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalms 11:5)
“These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 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.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8)
The passages above clearly show that God does not only hate the sinners, but He is angry with them every day. We also learn that we are enemies of God. That should make us tremble. Our lives are in the hands of our Enemy. We should weep and be in awe that we are still alive and not burning in hell for our sins at this moment.
Does God love sinners?
This next point is what distinguishes God's love from ours.
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)
Man sinned and was destined to suffer the wrath of God for eternity in hell. But God (oh how I love those words), took on the nature of a man and suffered for His enemies. That's how God's love is different from ours, He dies for His foes. God's wrath gets poured out on Jesus Christ so that He can forgive us and punish sin in Him and not in us. But Jesus wasn't a sinner, yes, but on the cross God the Father treated Him as one. He suffered to reconcile us to Himself, so God's hatred for sinners was manifested on the cross, as well as His love.
So is there a contradiction?
No, there is no contradiction. God hates the sin and the sinner. He also shows His love for sinners in that He died for them so that they can repent and be reconciled to Him. In the end God gets the glory, whether in damning the sinner to hell or in saving the sinner. And again God hates with a holy hatred so His hatred isn't like ours.
“God doesn't send sin to hell, He sends the sinner.” R.C. Sproul
What's our response?
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:8-10)
Our response should be that of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus showed His love for us in that He died for us. So that if we repent and turn to Christ, our sins can be forgiven and Christ's righteousness imputed to us (see the doctrine of imputation). And He can give us a new life. A life that gives glory to Him. But if we don't turn to Christ, God's wrath will remain in us and we will be damned forever in hell.
God hates both the sin and the sinners. But He has also manifested His love towards the sinners in that He died for the sinners so that they can turn to Him and be reconciled to Him.
Soli Deo Gloria