Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner

God hates sin. There is no doubt concerning this, as the scriptures use that very term to describe God’s attitude toward various sins. For example, the sin of idolatry. Deuteronomy 16:21-22 records, among other admonitions in that context, “You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God. You shall not set up a sacred pillar, which the Lord your God hates.” Likewise, in Malachi 2:16, it is written, “‘For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,’ Says the Lord of hosts. ‘Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.’”

Another term is equally descriptive. Consider the following verses from Proverbs:

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22).

“The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness” (Proverbs 15:9)

Finally, consider the words of the prophet Isaiah, showing God’s attitude toward the one who is guilty of sin (iniquity):

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 66:1-2).

These verses show that sin is distasteful to God, and He does not allow it in His presence. Because of this, those who have sin upon their souls are by that sin separated from Him.

Does that fact that God hates sin, and that He refuses the presence of the sinner indicate that God hates the sinner? Some would think that to be a logical conclusion. And, it is a common accusation made against men who express their hatred of sin in our world today. If we say that we hate the sin of homosexuality, we are accused of hating homosexuals. If we express our disdain for the false religion of Islam, we are accused of hating Muslims. The Bible, however, indicates something different.

A most famous passage of scripture teaches that God loves the sinner, “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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Or consider Paul’s declaration, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Consider that God hates sin because sin comes between Him and those He loves. So, God did something about it. He sent His Son to die as a sacrifice for sin, and in so doing made it possible for a man to have the guilt of sin removed, thus allowing for a renewed relationship with God.

Consider further that God’s children hate sin. They hate sin because it is sin that separates them from the God they love. They further hate sin because it separates their fellow man from God. So, the Christian does something about it. He convicts men of sin, sharing with them the gospel of Christ, and in so doing makes it possible for men to have the guilt of sin removed, thus allowing for a renewed relationship with God.

To declare a hatred for sin does not make a man a hater of the sinner, anymore than it made God a hater of the sinner. Regardless of such false accusations, the faithful child of God will show his love for his fellow man by speaking out against sin, and calling men to repentance. Remember the words of Paul, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

Yes, it is certainly possible to both hate the sin, and at the same time love the sinner. It is true of God. It can be true for men as well. In fact, it is a requirement!