Does God Hate Sin, Love Sinners Ps 5:5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Is it true that God hates sin and loves sinners? Or does he hate the sinner, too? This is an unpopular question to answer because of the Biblical truth.
The question is a good one that has been asked by many Christians. This answer should clarify who or what God hates. It is not meant to be an exhaustive answer, for you will find, on your own, similar references in the Bible to further establish this doctrine (Matt 18:16).
On the one hand, we have Jn 3:16 that says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” On the other hand, we have Jas 4:4 that says, “… whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” On the one hand, therefore, God loved the world and on the other he is an enemy of the world. Which is it?
God’s love for the world was demonstrated at Calvary. Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6) and “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom 5:8). “… when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” (Rom 5:10). Thus, God reconciled himself to us as enemies when Christ died on the cross (2 Cor 5:18-19). This reconciliation, though, doesn’t mean that God loves his enemies, presently, in the condition that they are in. It means that God is willing to extend them his love if they will accept the sacrifice of Jesus that reconciled them to God. That’s why John said, “we love him, because he first loved us,” (1 Jn 4:19).
An example of this love during Jesus’ ministry can be seen in Mark 10:21. In Mark 10, Jesus was approached by a rich, young ruler who wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. The Bible says that “Jesus beholding him loved him.” Yet, when the ruler refused to follow what Jesus commanded him to do, Jesus let him go, and used the man as an example of how hard it is for men who trust their riches to get saved. Jesus’ love for this sinner is not the same as his love for the children of God. It is the same as his love in Jn 3:16.
Now, when you look past Jn 3:16 to Jn 3:17-18, you find this interesting truth. A sinner who doesn’t “believe on” Jesus is condemned ALREADY. That is, he doesn’t have to wait until he is dead or judged to be under this condemnation. He is under it right now. Notice, it is not the sin that is under the condemnation; it is the sinner. Look at Jn 3:36 for another example. “The wrath of God abideth on” a sinner who does not believe on Jesus. The wrath of God is on him right now. It is, therefore, inconceivable that God’s wrath could abide on him at the same time God is loving him. A lost sinner who believes God loves him, refuses to believe that the wrath of God abides on him.
Consider what happened in Nineveh. When Jonah preached, God was ready to wipe out the city in 40 days. However, because the king and all the people repented, God changed his mind and extended them mercy and spared them. It was God’s LONGSUFFERING [not his love] that caused him to send Jonah and give them one more chance. It was God’s WRATH that would have caused him to kill more than 120,000 “innocent” children (those that could not “discern between their right hand and their left hand,” Jon 4:11). God’s love was not apparent toward them until they repented.
You see, you and I have “the ministry of reconciliation” mentioned in 2 Cor 5:18. In 2 Cor 5:20, we are ambassadors for Christ. We are to tell sinners, who are enemies of God, that they don’t have to perish in the wrath of God that abides on them. They can receive Jesus Christ and be saved. They can receive Jesus Christ and be loved. Thus, we must have compassion on them and be willing to tell them the truth about their current state. And we must tell them the truth about God’s love.
When God finally had it with Israel before he drove them completely out of his house, he said, “I hated them,” and “I will love them no more,” (Hos 9:15). Of course, at his Second Coming, the Lord will save them and take them back (Rom 11:25-27). But look what he said. He HATED them. Look what he did to them for crucifying his Son and resisting the gospel (1 Thes 2:14-16, “for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost”). That’s not God loving the sinner and hating the sin!
In Mal 1:3, God said, “I hated Esau.” See the same thing in Rom 9:13. In Ps 11:5, we find that God hates the wicked and him that loveth violence. He doesn’t say that he hates their sin (although he does, Prov 6:16-19). He hates them. Ps 5:5 says, “thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” He said that he hates the workers. That’s not the same thing as saying that he hates the works, but loves the workers. He didn’t say, “I love the workers of iniquity, but I hate their sin.” God certainly hates wickedness (Ps 45:7), but he also hates the ones who do the wickedness. Consider these verses: Heb 13:4, “… whoremongers and adulterers God will judge;” Eph 5:5-7, “…no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater… because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” In Rev 21:8, it’s the sinners, not their sins, that have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
Conclusion: it is not palatable to sinners to hear this answer to the question whether God hates the sin or the sinner. This answer is not even palatable to many who call themselves Christians. But this answer is the truth, as you can see from the scripture. What I have found, since entering the ministry, is that sinners who realize the truth of God’s wrath abiding on them, and the depth of God’s love for the world demonstrated in the gift of Jesus, generally get saved. And when they do, they appreciate the love of God for them, as his children, much more than people who don’t know the whole truth. Consider how much the woman who was a sinner loved Jesus (Lk 7:36-50). She loved much because her many sins were forgiven. She had more appreciation than the Pharisee.