Hate the sin, love the sinner.
A common phrase which is extremely popular in Christian circles.
And one with which I agree…almost…wholeheartedly.
We must remember that the Bible does not expressly state “Hate the sin, love the sinner”, but rather Scripture supports this idea in many verses, including Psalm 97:10, Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 4:8, Ephesians 5:2.
Scripture also clearly states in Leviticus 20:23:
And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them.
And again in Psalm 5:5-6:
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
And once again in Psalm 26:5:
I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked.
And in Proverbs 6:16-19:
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.
And yet again in Hosea 9:15:
“All their wickedness is in Gilgal,
For there I hated them.
Because of the evil of their deeds
I will drive them from My house;
I will love them no more.
All their princes are rebellious.”
And finally in Romans 9:13:
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
If you were reading carefully, you should have realized that I put in bold pairs of words in each verse.
Hate/Abhor paired with Sinner/Evildoer (etc.)
Now, all the verses listed above create a conundrum for Christians. Do they not?
How can a believer love the sinner as Christ commands us and yet hate the wicked as the Heavenly Father does? Should a believer hate the sinner and not just the sin? If so, when?
The answer is not easy, nor is it clear-cut.
Love and hate are two of the greatest emotions a human being can experience, and both come from the Lord.
God is love. (1 John 4:8)
God also hates. (see verses above)
He hates sin, yes. And many times believers and unbelievers would like to stop there and forget what the Lord thinks of those who sin against Him – those who blatantly disobey Him and who, in doing so, choose to be His enemy.
We must realize that the sin is not the only abomination to the Lord.
The sinner is, as well.
Before we start, let me clarify what I mean by “hate”. “Hate” (as used in the Scripture passages outlined above) comes from the Greek and Hebrew words meaning “grieved by, distressed by, disgusted, detested”. So, when I say that God “hates” sin, I am, in essence, saying that sin grieves, distresses, and disgusts Him.
When God “hates” the sinner, He is disgusted by him and grieved and distressed because what man has become (a sinful, fallen, and depraved creature) was not what He intended His creation to be (loving and faithful servants and children created in His perfect image).
Now that we have this definition all squared away, let’s begin.
Let’s First Establish This: The sinner is an abomination, not just the sin.
If the sin was the only abomination, then animal sacrifices would have been enough. However, Christ came, so the animal sacrifices must not have been enough, sine He was the only sacrifice able to atone – not just for the sin, but for the sinner as well.
You see, you cannot truly be rid of your sin and forgiven of it, until you become a born-again believer, as Christ explains to Nichodemus in John 3.
I ask you now, if the sinner was not an abomination to God in His sinful state (but only the sin was the abomination), what need was there for a rebirth in the Spirit once Christ had washed the sin away?
This brings us back to a couple basic aspects of Salvation:
1.) The justification in which Christ’s perfection is imputed onto us and our sin onto Him. (where the sin is removed)
2.) The sanctification in which the born-again believer grows to be more holy in the eyes of the Father. (where the sinner becomes a new creation ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17)
A new creation signifies that the old was not as good as originally intended, that the new will be better and closer to perfection.
Therefore, the sinner is, indeed an abomination.
The sin is a abomination to the Lord, so the Lord hates it (i.e. “is grieved” or “is distressed” or “is disgusted” by it).
The sinner is an abomination to the Lord, so the Lord hates him (i.e. “is grieved” or “is distressed” or “is disgusted” by what the sinful being he has become).
Only when the sinner is justified and made holy by the perfect blood of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, is the sinner no longer a grievous abomination to but a beloved child of God.
Let’s Next Understand This: The Lord does not hate beyond salvation.
We were all an abomination and a hateful spectacle to the Lord in our unregenerate, unrepentant, and unredeemed state, because we grieve Him beyond physical pain and words.
However, Romans 5:8 tells us that God loved us and saved us while we were yet sinners. This shows that God loved us
Believers, however, are not omniscient like God. So, how can a believer know whom to love and whom to hate (i.e. find grievous)?
Many would say, forget the difference and love all.
I say, draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
When you are in an intimate and constantly communing relationship with the Lord, you will learn that all sinners grieve the Lord. However, He is merciful and chooses to love some more despite their disgusting sin (Romans 9:13).
Point One: Believers ought to love one another, unconditionally, as Christ loved them (John 14:34-35).
Point Two: Believers ought to love the sinner by sharing the gospel with him despite his grievous and abominable sin and state.
Point Three: The loving believer, however, ought still to be grieved by the sin and distressed by the sinner. In this way, the believer will both love the sinner, as Christ commanded – by fulfilling the Great Commission – and hate (i.e. be grieved) by the sinner as the Heavenly Father is.
You should never “love” someone so much that
their sinful state fails to grieve you,
and you fail to share the Truth of the gospel with them.
Have you ever struggled with
being apathetic about someone’s sin life,
just because you thought you were
supposed to love them no matter what?