Hating Sin, Loving Sinners

Some Christians detest the phrase “hate the sin but love the sinner” (or variations of it) claiming it’s unscriptural. While it may not appear verbatim in the Bible, many verses support that idea. One of the most obvious is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Another one is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are a few Scriptures about God hating certain individuals. Psalm 5:5 says, “You hate all workers of iniquity.” Proverbs 6:19 mentions the Lord hating “a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” I believe it’s more accurate to say God hates the actions of unbelievers. 

Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Does God really want us hating our relatives? Of course not. The word “hate” in this verse would be better rendered as “love less.” What the Lord is saying is we cannot put a family member’s interests ahead of God’s. We should also be praying for our lost loved ones until they hopefully “come to themselves.” Christians shouldn’t have a condescending attitude like the prodigal son’s older brother in Luke 15 or the Pharisees who caught the woman in adultery in John 8. 

Look how the Lord responded to the rich young ruler who approached Him in Mark 10:21, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ Jesus loved this man even though he valued his possessions more that following the Son of God.

God doesn’t love the world system that condones and encourages sin but certainly the people in it. That’s why He gave us Jesus. Therefore, Christians should love sinners not by condoning their sinful actions but by sharing the gospel with them.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” - 1 John 4:10-11

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