Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hate the sin but love the sinner?: Biblical Reflections on hating evil

There is a phrase that is thrown around that says that people are to "hate the sin but love the sinner". But just how true is this statement for what is required of us? How true is this statement for God?

Does God hate sinners?

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”
- Psalm 5:4-6

“The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD's throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
-Psalm 11:4-5

“Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD,
but those of blameless ways are his delight.”
- Proverbs 11:20

The passages are endless that tell us that God hates sinners. God hates sinners. If this does not seem pretty clear, please read Deuteronomy and the Psalms.

Should we hate sinners?

“Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
I do not sit with men of falsehood,
nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked.”
- Psalm 26:1-5

“I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.”
- Psalm 31:6

As Christian's, we are also called to hate sinners. We...are called to hate sinners.

Practical Applications

God hates sinners. God hates whatever is not of Him. He is patient towards evil for now, but there is no guarantee of how much longer that will be; the wrath of God is coming. God has provided us a way to escape His wrath and hell. God has not only provided an escape from bad things, but He has also provided us to be made right with God and to know and to be infinitely loved by God. Apart from Christ, we have nothing. Nothing.

As sinful people who have recieved God's gift of life, we have been moved from being enemies of God to His friends. We, as believers, are supposed to love what God loves and hate what God hates. But how is this lived out?

This is a hard question, one that a lot of people ignore, but is vitally important if God is to be made known.

"Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
-Hebrews 12:4

To answer this question, there are two quotes that sum up how hating sinners is practically applied.

"Any and every unrighteous man must be the object of our hatred in respect of his unrighteousness and the object of our love in respect of his humanity; that by reproving the fault in him which rightly earns our hatred, we may liberate that in him which rightly earns our love, that is to say the human nature itself, and set right every fault in it.”
– Augustine

“There is a lawful hatred of the sinner; and indeed there must be, since such a hatred is the obverse of the love of God. The love of God hates all that is opposed to God; and sinners–not merely sin–are opposed to God. And if such a sentiment is lawful, its expression is lawful; and one may desire that the evil in another receive its corresponding evil–provided that this hatred is restrained within the limits of that which is lawful. These limits are:

1. Hatred must not be directed at the person of one’s neighbor; he is hated for his evil quality.

2. One may desire that the divine justice be accomplished in the sinner; but it must be a desire for divine justice, not a desire for the personal evil of another out of personal revenge.

3. The infliction of evil may not be desired absolutely, but only under the condition that the sinner remains obdurate and unrepentant.

4. It must be accompanied by that true supernatural charity which efficaciously desires the supreme good–the eternal happiness–of all men in general, not excluding any individual who is capable of attaining it. In a word, the sinner may lawfully be hated only when he is loved.”

-John L. McKenzie, “The Imprecations of the Psalter.” American Ecclesiastical Review 111 (1944): 91.


God hates sin and He hates sinners. We CANNOT pretend that neither are true. This is not meant as a mean or hurtful fact; it is true and we CANNOT afford to act like it is not. I don't want to see ANYONE be apart from Christ. I DO NOT want anyone to experience the wrath of God. And, if you are reading this, I hope you feel the same way. I pray that we will wake up to the reality that life is short, hell is real and horrible, and that people will not escape God's wrath unless they turn to Christ. Christ HAS made a way. Christ CAN save us. Christ CAN save the people you know. TODAY is the day to cry out to the LORD on their behalf. TODAY is the day that the world needs the Gospel. TODAY is the day that people can be made no longer an enemy, but a friend of God.

Dear friend, please open your heart to recieve this. I am no better than anyone else. I deserve eternal death a thousand times over. And so do you. So does everyone. Please, please, please, know that Christ has made a way for people to be saved. I beg of you, don't forsake what the Scripture teaches because it is what our culture does. Cling to Christ because He is all that we have and is all that we need. Without Him we have no hope; we have nothing.

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