Christian Theology, Biblical Theology

"You are no longer under law but grace; therefore, sin shall not have dominion over you" "The grace of God has appeared teaching men to say no to sin"

Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner

Hate the Sin Love the Sinner is a False TeachingHate the sin but love the sinner is a logically untenable position. This is a common saying among most Christians today; but is it biblical or even reasonable? At one time it may have been used to make a point that we are not to completely remove ourselves from the world like many separatist groups. But is this really a good and sensible way of describing how we are to be in the world and not of it? As a result of this teaching, many Christians have become worldly, lost their passion for God, and can identify with the sinners better than the church. Remember the bible often admonishes us to guard our hearts with all diligence and to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Some of these peculiar teachings often seem rooted in non-Christian circles that later become "Christianized". Be careful what you pray for was first coined by Confucius, the teaching of unconditional love was taught in many new-age circles and secular pop-psychology before it made it's way into the church; and hate the sin and love the sinner can be found in Ghandi's writings. Bu we will see that many of the great church leaders including God Himself teaches that we are to hate the sin and the sinner. This teaching seems to promote ungodly relationships instead of teaching us to guard against them. At the end of this article I will cite St. Augustine, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, J Vernon McGee and many others whose views are commensurate with this article.

How can we or God separate the sin from the sinner? We can’t, sin has no existence apart from the sinner, sin is an extension and representation of the soul and thoughts of the sinner. Sin and the sinner share a metaphysical union similar to the body and soul or the man and his heart. Jesus said that a man acts and speaks from the abundance of his heart, in other words, sin is the heart of man and the two cannot be separated in order that we love one and hate the other. The same argument can be made for righteousness as well; however, this won't be addressed in this article viz. the absurdity of imputed righteousness.

I have several unsaved family members, they are sinners, and because they are in the kingdom of Satan and I am in the kingdom of God; I no longer have the same loving relationship I once had with them. I do have a benevolence for them and desire their salvation but there is no real intimate union between myself and them. This is why Jesus said that a man's enemies will be the members of his own household. How can you share your deepest passions (serving Christ) with someone who is of the world? They don't want to hear about your "Christian stuff" anymore than you want to hear about their "sinful stuff". More often than not; sin wins out and the Christian who loves the sinner but hates the sin ends up departing from the faith and loving the same things the sinner loves. Be not deceived, bad company corrupts good morals. It's a tough pill to swallow but Jesus said "Anyone who loves father, mother, son, or daughter more than Me is not worthy of My kingdom". We all at various times in our lives are put in situations where we have to choose between taking God's side or that of our family's. It seems that every time we defend the sinner or make excuses for him, we are pleading his case against God - most of us don't consider this issue in such strong terms but we are really choosing the devil over God.

Too often Christians attempt to describe God in terms that are overly simple and in so doing, describe His love in a monolithic sense. The bible tells us in John 3:16 that "God so loved the world that He sent His Son into the world that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life". But this benevolence for mankind doesn’t begin to describe the manifold nature or love of God. Yet this is what most would use as a proof text for “unconditional love”. There are other scriptures similar to John 3:16 which say that while we were enemies of God, Christ died for the ungodly. God's love for mankind as a group does not entail that He loves each and every human being.

John 14:21 Jesus said “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love him and I will manifest Myself to him”. Here we have a counter-example to “unconditional love”, one which is conditional. Theologically and logically speaking, if we can show one proof text such as John 14:21, then we can disprove the theory of unconditional love. This and one other scripture in John are the only two verses where Jesus preached on God's love towards man. The other five scriptures where Jesus talks of love is strictly regarding how we are to love God and our neighbors. The word love is not even in the book of Acts. This is the book where we can read and know what the Apostles preached and model the ways we present the gospel to the sinner as well.

The Old Testament is a rich source of knowledge when it comes to learning about the nature of God. Psalms 5:5 speaking of God “You hate all workers of iniquity” and Psalm 7:11 “God is a just judge and God is angry with the wicked everyday”; Psalm 11:5 says this of the Lord “The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates”. And Psalm 97:10 instructs Christians how they should feel towards the sinner “You who love the Lord, hate evil (or evildoer)”. The workers of iniquity would be those who continually sin despite knowing the truth of God, they are lawless and have no respect for God and His moral law and Christian who loves God will hate sin and love righteousness.

Even Jesus hated evil. Hebrews 1:9 was speaking of Jesus “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness…” (Understand this verse could be amplified to read workers of righteousness and workers of lawlessness. Righteousness and lawlessness have no existence apart from the moral agent committing such acts.). This can also apply to the Sermon on the Mount; where Jesus says "Blessed are those who seek righteousness". What He is saying is blessed are those who seek to live and do righteous acts. Unfortunately this has been misunderstood to represent something approaching "Blessed are those who seek God's imputed righteousness - whatever that means".

I think if we take the bible in its proper context and not lift any scriptures out of context we will see that God has a general benevolence for mankind but does indeed hate the workers of iniquity as well as the iniquity – additionally the concept of “unconditional love” is not a biblical concept. God’s love and mercy are great, but not unconditional, Paul tells us to preach the full counsel of God which includes His hatred of sin and the workers of iniquity as well as His mercy and love towards those who repent and place their faith in Christ. 

We Christians are to love the righteous and hate the evildoers; while holding a benevolence towards the evildoers as we attempt to reach them for Christ. But the minute we go beyond this "benevolence" to a love that accepts the evil of the workers of iniquity we become a murky spring and polluted well (proverbs 25:26). We find ourselves as friends of the world; and we know that James said that "Any man who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God". We can have familial relations whereby we love our unsaved family members while disapproving of their sinful deeds - this is a tight line to walk and if we are not careful; we may find ourselves fighting against God because James also said "friendship with the world is enmity towards God". Remember Jesus said that "A man's enemies will be the members of his own house, I came to set father against son, daughter against mother...". There is a sense in which the members of our own households become our enemies for Christ's sake. The Christian must use great caution with their friendly and family relationships, and the bible gives us ample warning about "bad company corrupting good morals".

We need to "Re-think" this love the sinner and hate the sin in godly terms of having a general benevolence for all men that desires the highest and best for them viz. salvation, while hating the boastful and proud who flaunt their sin and hatred of God. "Open rebuke is better than secret love," we see this kind of love through the ministry of Jesus and His apostles. If we study the ministries of Jesus and the Apostles, we will come to know that preaching to the sinner that God loves them will actually hinder the work of the Holy Spirit, this is why the word love does not appear in the Acts of the Apostles  while they preached repentance and the fear of the Lord. God does desire that all men repent and come to a knowledge of the truth (loving His Son); then based on this condition He will enter a loving relationship with the repentant sinner. God cannot force you to love Him nor can He decree that you love Him because the concept of love logically entails an act of free will.

Do you want the anointing of joy and gladness, are you looking for revival fires to fall? Love the righteous ones and hate the workers of iniquity! Stand for God, find excuses why we should live holy and honor God - break from the pack that defends the enemies of God, the worldly, the sinner, or the Christians that make excuses why they can't live holy. Sadly enough, 99% of every Christian that I speak to would rather make excuses for sin rather than find ways to live holy and defend God.

While most Evangelicals complain about taking God out of the public square; they to have kicked God out of the church by removing the 10 Commandments from the church under the guise of legalism. Let us not forget that Grace (according to Romans 6 and Titus 2:12) means - the power to live above sin and therefore fulfill God's moral law.



AUGUSTINE: (354-430, Bishop of Hippo): "For it may be that GOD HATES A PERSON to the degree more mildly, as not to destroy him, but whom He destroys HE HATES THE MORE EXCEEDINGLY, by how much He punisheth more severely. Now HE HATETH ALL WHO WORK INIQUITY: but all who speak lies He also destroys." (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol.3, p.462)

JOHN WESLEY: (1703-1791, founder of Methodism): "But as for the wicked, GOD HATES THEM, and will feverishly punish them." (Explanatory Notes Upon the Old Testament, Vol.2, p.1639)

JONATHAN EDWARDS: "The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much in the same way one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, ABHORS YOU, and is dreadfully provoked: His wrath towards you burns like fire: He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire: He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight: you are ten thousand times more ABOMINABLE in His sight than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours." (Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God, July 8, 1741)

CHARLES G. FINNEY: "The very thing that God hates and disapproves is not the mere event - the thing done in distinction from the doer; but it is the doer himself. It grieves and displeases God that a rational moral agent under His government should array himself against his own God and Father, against all that is right and just in the universe. This is the thing that offends God. The sinner himself is the direct and only object of His anger." (The Guilt of Sin, pp.84-85)

F. DELITZSCH: "Of such (sinners - the foolish, and more especially the foolish boasters:)... SUCH MEN JEHOVAH HATES: for if He did not hate evil, His love would not be a holy love," ... "And His soul HATES the evildoer and him that delights in the violence of the strong against the weak. And the more intense this hatred, the more fearful will be the judgments in which it bursts forth." (Psalms, Vol.5, pp.122,189)

CHARLES H. SPURGEON: "Verse 5 - Note the singular opposition of the two sentences. GOD HATES THE WICKED, therefore in contrast He loves the righteous..." (The Treasury of David, Vol.2, pp.57-58)

AUGUSTUS HOPKINS STRONG: "There is no abstract sin that can be hated apart from the person in whom that sin is represented and embodies. It is the sinner who is punished, not the sin." (Systematic Theology, p.290f)

J. VERNON MCGEE: " If you think God is just lovey-dovey, you had better read this (Ps.11:5) and some of the other Psalms again. GOD HATES THE WICKED who hold onto their wickedness... I do not think God loves the devil, I think He hates him, and HE HATES THOSE WHO HAVE NO INTENTION OF TURNING TO GOD. Frankly, I do not like this distinction that I hear today, that 'God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.' God has loved you so much that He gave His Son to die for you, but if you persist in your sin, and continue in that sin, you are the enemy of God. And God is your enemy." (Psalms, Vol.1, p.72)

LAYMAN'S BIBLE COMMENTARY: "God's Hatred of Evildoers (Psalm 5:4-5)... God is not said to love the sinner and hate his sin; He is said to HATE BOTH THE SINNER AND HIS SIN. This sounds harsh to modern Christian ears, but there is truth here we dare not overlook."

MATTHEW HENRY'S COMMENTARY: "He is a holy God, and therefore HATES THEM (the sinner), and cannot endure to look upon them; the wicked, and him that loveth violence, HIS SOUL HATETH... Their pros-perity is far from being an evidence of God's love...their abuse of it does certainly make them objects of HIS HATRED. He hates nothing that He has made, yet HATES THOSE who have ill-made themselves."

THE INTERNATIONAL CRITICAL COMMENTARY: "But the wicked HIS SOUL DOTH HATE... Their treacherous preparations...are all observed by Yahweh, and HE HATES THEM FROM HIS VERY SOUL. The soul is the seat of the passion of anger and hatred, for God as well as for man...therefore, Yahweh is trying the righteous man, and HATING His deadly enemies..."

THE INTERPRETER'S BIBLE: "In vs. 5 the verb 'trieth' has its object both the righteous and the wicked, and means no more that the Lord watchfully observes them both and estimates them for what they are, HATING THE LATTER and ultimately pouring His destruction upon them."

BROADMAN BIBLE COMMENTARY: "Yahweh takes no pleasure in wickedness and does not dwell with evil (or evil men). Insolent, boasting people have no position at all in the presence of Yahweh, who HATES ALL 'DOERS OF SIN.' Indeed, Yahweh will annihilate those who speak deception: HE DETESTS THE MAN OF BLOODY DEEDS AND DECEITS."

Oh, how we must confront the sinners of this generation with the righteous hatred of God! When we sample most of today's Evangelical preaching, its main theme is love. However, neither Jesus or any of His Apostles ever told the lost multitudes, "God loves you". Never! Rather, they told the multitudes of their duty to love God supremely and love their neighbor equally - this is all the Law of God. The Lord's followers were undoubtedly motivated by love, and so should we. But this does not mean that we should speak of love. The real question for the world today is not "Does God love you?" but "Do you love God?" If sinners would not keep God's Law, they were warned of the righteous judgments of God, so that they would fear Him. In the book of Acts (our first example of Church evangelism), the word "love" is not mentioned even once, while the fear of the Lord is referred to ten times! What is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom? The Bible says it is THE FEAR OF THE LORD! One cannot love God in the Biblical sense - benevolence, good-willing, perfect submission - until He fears God!

Many will say today that "God loves the fornicator, but hates the fornication He loves the drunkard, but hates the drunkenness." This is absurd. Actions have no moral character apart form the actor. Charles Finney explains, "The very thing that God hates and disapproves is not the mere event - the thing done in distinction from the doer; but it is the doer himself. It grieves and displeases God that a rational moral agent under His government should array himself against his own God and Father, against all that is right and just in the universe. This is the thing that offends God. The sinner himself is the direct and only object of His anger."

Alexander Maclaren cautions, "Let us take care, lest for the sake of seeming to preserve the impartiality of God's love, we have destroyed all in Him that makes His love worth having. If to Him the good and the bad, the men who fear Him and the men who fear Him not, are equally satisfactory, and, in the same manner, the objects of an equal love, then He is not a God that has pleasure in righteousness; and if He is not a God that has pleasure in righteousness, He is not a God for us to trust."

The extra biblical, humanistic gospel that starts with God's love for sinners has quenched the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon so many. Sinning rebels will hear some patty-cake "Christian" telling them that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life". The sinner then thinks that it means God accepts them, is pleased with them, or that God has good feelings for them. How far this is from the truth! May the prophets of God begin to speak the truth and define their terms. God is Holy, and does not accept sinners as they are - He righteously hates them as they are! God's "plan" for them is eternal torment in the lake of fire unless they repent and submit to God! This "God-loves-you, false Gospel" should be utterly forsaken for the true message of the Bible!

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