“I don’t believe there is a man on the whole TV that preaches salvation. They preach forgiveness. Forgiveness is not salvation. … “Oh you know the Lord loves you just as you are.” Well then why get changed? Commit adultery as much as you like. He still loves you. Be a cheat, be a liar, be a thief, and be a failure. He still loves you. But there’s a scripture. Isn’t it the Psalms 7…. where it says “God is angry with the wicked every day.” I heard somebody quote today “God loves you but hates your sin” that’s bunken. God hates you for committing the sin. Is God going to take your sins and judge them at the Judgment and leave you alone?”
To say God forgives sin is true. But in saying it that way, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is sinners from whom the liability of guilt is lifted. God punishes persons and He forgives persons. Some try to distinguish between sin and the sinner: “God hates sin; loves the sinner.” Such separation isn’t possible. God sends sinners to hell; they, not their sin, are punished eternally. Christ, not the sin He bore, suffered and died on the cross.
Jay Adams, from The Basis for Forgiveness
In contemplating the expression “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin”, we’ve seen that God hates not only the sin but sinners, that the expression isn’t from the Bible just quotes from others, and the sin cannot be separated from the sinner. So where does that leave those who believe on Christ for salvation?
The problem with using such a trite expression is what happens often when people attempt to evangelize. It leaves out the gospel and Christ. Just as “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”, leaves out Christ and the gospel. We cannot leave out the gospel and Christ. It would be like throwing out a rope to a drowning person and forgetting to hold the other end of the rope. It may make the drowning person feel better for a while but it won’t help in the long run.
Ever participated in a typical youth group activity where the youth are told to write out on pieces of paper their sins. Then they are told to nail their sins to a large wooden cross. Sounds all nice and encouraging, right? A way for youth to visualize Christ taking their sins because He loves them so much. But it is flawed, just like the expression above is flawed. See what was crucified on that Cross of Calvary was not just our sins but also us. The sins Christ bore were not what was crucified but Christ Himself was crucified. You cannot separate the sins from the sinner.
Gal 2:20-21 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We were crucified with Christ, not just our sins. We died and were raised again as new creations. It is no longer us who live but Christ in us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
We are accepted due to Christ (blessed in the ESV).
Ephesians 1:6 (KJV) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Our sins are atoned for. We are justified by Christ. We are reconciled with God. We are at peace with God. We are loved.
Romans 5:7-11 (ESV) 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Romans 5:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 15:9 (ESV) As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
But what if we sin after we have been justified? Not only are we new creations, Christ is continually interceding for us with the Father.
Romans 8:34 (ESV) Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Is it possible to separate the sin from the sinner? See it sounds nice to say “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.” But is it possible? Yes and no. Don’t you hate answers like that? However, if you are a believer you shouldn’t.
Sin cannot be separated from a sinner. Sin only exists in theory until there is an entity to commit sin. God created the world and all that was in it. He declared it was good, even then though the idea or concept of sin existed. Remember that Christ was slain before the foundation of the world and the names were written in the Book of Life (Rev 13:8). So the concept of sin and evil existed from the foundation of the world, otherwise there would have been no need for the slain Christ. When Satan and his angels of darkness rebelled then sin was encompassed in a being. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they became sinners.
What was cursed as a result of sin? Sin itself was not cursed and punished, but the sinners. Satan and his Angels were cast out of Heaven. Adam and Eve were cursed and cast from the Garden. Sin cannot be punished only, sinners can be punished. Sin is not what is sent to Hell at the last day, sinners are.
Everyone would say they hate the sin of murder. We can discuss the fine points about why murder is wrong whether based on Scripture or not. However, when it comes down to a murder being committed murder is not what is on trial. The person who murdered is on trial. It is a person who will be punished for the sin of murder. He is a murderer; you cannot separate the murder from the murderer. Even after serving time in prison and “paying back society” he can be released but it will not take away the fact that he is a murderer. He can even repent, ask forgiveness and be forgiven by society yet he is still a murderer.
So where does this leave believers if God not only hates sin but also hates sinners? Does God love us or hate us? See even believers still sin so what is our hope? How do you reconcile that with God loved us while still sinners (Romans 5:8)?
While looking at the expression “God loves you, but hates your sin”, we’ve seen that it isn’t a quote from the Bible and also that God Himself says He hates sinners and not just the sin. So where does the idea of “God loves you, but hates your sin” originate? For something that is quoted so often you would think people would know where it originated. But most don’t. Does it matter who said it? Even whether or not it is true? I think it does. See if I found that Charles Spurgeon was to be credited with saying it then I would lend it more credence than if say Benny Hinn was quoted as having first said it. Not that Spurgeon is always right, but He does get more benefit of the doubt than a false teacher would. But then I would even check up on Spurgeon and see if it could be backed by Scripture. I know it is a radical concept but I would throw out even a Spurgeon quote if it didn’t stand up to Scripture.
The earliest person to be attributed with saying something similar to “God loves you, but hates your sin” is St. Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo from 395 – 430 A.D. In a letter (Opera Omnia, vol II. col. 962, letter 211 ) St. Augustine wrote, he is reported to have said “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” That is a similar statement but it isn’t in context. Is it attributed to God saying it or is Augustine himself saying it? That I couldn’t find out. And it matters greatly!
Another quote from Augustine:
“It is clear, then, that the man who does not live according to man but according to God must be a lover of the good and therefore a hater of evil; since no man is wicked by nature but is wicked only by some defect, a man who lives according to God owes it to the wicked men that his hatred be perfect, so that, neither hating the man because of his corruption nor loving the corruption because of the man, he should hate the sin but love the sinner. For, once the corruption has been cured, then all that is left should be loved and nothing remains to be hated.”
-Augustine, City of God, p. 304
This appears to be saying that a “man” should love the sinner and hate the sin. That is a big difference than God saying He loves the sinner but hates the sin. But notice also Augustine says “no man is wicked by nature but is wicked only by some defect”. I would say Scripture teaches that our nature is wicked from conception. We are sinners from the beginning, not just because we sin.
The next person who is attributed as saying something similar to “God loves you, but hates your sin” is Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi from his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth:
“Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be. ’Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.”
I won’t bother explaining why Gandhi, a Hindu, is not someone whom a Christian should accept as worthy of quoting and holding up as a virtuous. For more info on Hinduism see CARM.
God loves you, but hates your sin.
• We don’t have this expression found in the Bible.
• We have direct quotes from Scripture that God hates sinners, ex. Psalm 5:5.
• This quote is quite different than the quotes it appears to be derived from. Since none of them appear to attribute it to God.
So what do we do with this?
Can sin be separated from the sinner?
In looking at the phrase “God loves you, but hates your sin”, if you were to search through the Bible you wouldn’t find that quote in there. Just like you won’t find “God helps those who help themselves.” But just because a word or phrase is not an actual quote does not mean it isn’t Biblical. We use words, terms and phrases throughout the Church and in theology that cannot be found verbatim in the Bible. Such as the word Trinity which is not in the Bible; however, that concept is all through the Bible beginning in Genesis 1:26 where we are introduced to God as “us” and “our”. So then you will have to see if the Bible supports the concept of “God loves you, but hates your sin.”
Others will point out that “God is love, He doesn’t, or can’t, hate.” But is that true? Partially, see God is Love is totally true.
1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ESV
1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. ESV
Well obviously that part is simple enough.
But does God hate?
If God is Love, can He hate? Are those opposites?
Deut 12:31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. ESV
So, yes, God hates.
But that is just actions He hates, not people, like “God loves you, but hates your sin” says.
But continue on with looking at what God hates. As Mark pointed out some verses last night, God does hate sinners.
These are the verses Mark shared.
Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
Psalm 7:11 God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
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.
There are so many more:
God hates Ephraim, a part of Israel, and will love them no more.
Hos 9:15 Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them. 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. ESV
God hates Israel, His heritage.
Jer 12:8 My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her. ESV
Sometimes God hates our worship.
Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. ESV
So obviously not only does God hate sin, He says He hates sinners.
Later we’ll look at why He must hate sinners and not just their sin.
Ever heard this before?
God loves you, but hates your sin.
Have you just accepted that as Biblical truth or have you questioned it?
Do you know where it originates from?
Does it hold up to Biblical scrutiny?
The fifth session of True Church Conference 2010 was presented by Conrad Mbewe of Zambia, Africa. Mbewe is known as the “African Spurgeon.” Mbewe’s sermon was on Loving Sinners. His text was Luke 19:41-44.
An argument of hyper-Calvinism in regards to evangelistic preaching is that preaching should be directed only to the regenerated person. The book of Acts shows this is not the case. Sermons in the book of Acts were directed to unbelievers. Hyper-Calvinism locks you away from loving sinners the way Jesus did.
The context of the text is following Palm Sunday and the excitement that that entailed. The people were praising God. It was the triumphal entry of Jesus. But instead of being joyful, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. Why? Because Jesus saw the destruction that lay in the future of the city.
Points from the passage:
1. If you love sinners the way God loves them then it will move you into evangelism because they are ignorant of what it takes to bring peace with God (verse 42a).
a. This was the season when the Son of God was on earth, but the people did not realize it. They were chasing after things which could not satisfy.
b. The people were busy practicing the externals of religion with no change of heart.
c. Jesus spent His time with sinners. We concentrate on inward programs but have lost sight of those on the outside who need Christ’s love.
2. If you love sinners the way God loves them, then it will move you to pray for them that God will open their eyes because only God is able to do so (verse 42b).
a. Unless God speaks life into us we will remain dead. Jesus knew this, but He still wept. His heart was broken by their blindness.
b. See Romans chapters 9-10. Paul wept over the spiritual blindness of his brother Israelites.
3. If you love sinners the way God loves them it will move you to preach to them of the judgment to come (verses 43-44).
a. The judgment to come broke Jesus heart. And also for the reason for the judgment – because they had rejected the day of their visitation by God.
b. And how much greater the condemnation will be for those who reject the resurrected Savior.
c. This should move us to action.
d. See Luke chapter 16.
e. If you are rescuing people from a sinking ship, you don’t spend time looking into God’s eternal plan to see who He wills to save and who He wills to die. You put everything you have into rescuing everyone you can.
Jesus’ love for sinners held Him to the cross. What is your love for sinners causing you to do?
“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things:
That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”