Does God Really Love Sinners?

by Rayola Kelley

Q: Is it true that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner?  

A:  I heard that saying when I was a new Christian. It sounded good; therefore, I bought it as truth. After all, I had been taught that God’s love was unconditional towards man. However, I have never found such a concept in the Bible, which makes such a saying nothing more than an adage. In fact, there are Scriptures that declare the opposite.

    We already know that God hates any sin or moral deviation that would separate man from Him. We also know those who are righteous will display that same type of hatred towards sin(Psalms 97:10). The question is can God hate someone that He has shown His love towards? The answer is yes. We know that God hated Esau. The children of Israel stated more then once that the Lord had hated them due to their rebellion (Deuteronomy 1:27; Malachi 1:3; Romans 1:13)Psalm 101:4 states: “A forward heart shall depart from me; I will not know a wicked person.” The Apostle Paul stated that the wrath of God is upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6).

    It is easy to separate the sin from the sinner, but the reality is, the sinner will be judged for his or her sin. In other words, God is not sending the sin to hell, but the unrepentant sinner. To separate the sinful action from the person is a form of Gnostism. Gnostism was exaltation of intellectual enlightenment. However, my understanding of this belief is that part of its philosophy is that the spirit and soul of man were considered separate from the activities of the body. In other words, it was the body that was evil and not the soul and spirit. Therefore, whatever was done in the body did not affect the status of the inward man, which was being enlightened by spiritual insight. The Apostle John related such philosophy to an antichrist spirit.

    It is important for Christians to realize that sin is a manifestation of the inward status of a person’s disposition. It reveals that man is obstinate in heart, disrespectful in attitude, and disobedient in actions. You might say outward sin serves as the visible fruit of man’s inner being. Clearly, you cannot separate the sin from the sinner. It is the sin that identifies the person as a sinner. Obviously, God speaks of his hatred towards outward sin to bring a reality check to man that He will not tolerate such disobedience from him. In fact, he is under judgment, destined to taste His wrath. Wrath in this sense means violent passion (sounds like hate to me), anger, indignation, and vengeance.

    The question is, how did Christians allow themselves to believe such a lie? Part of the problem rests with how Christians view God’s love. The popular view about God’s love is nothing more than sentimental slop. Much of this sentimentality is based on the prospect that God’s love is unconditional. Once again this is not scriptural. God’s love is everlasting and it has been extended to every one. But, just because God’s love is being extended to everyone does not mean He loves everyone.

    What many people refuse to realize is that love must be received for one to actually experience it. God’s love has been offered from the point of the cross of Jesus. However, for people to personally experience His incredible love, they must receive Jesus’ redemption to benefit from it. Individuals can go around and claim God loves them, but they must receive God’s love to be saved. “Receive” means to acquire, possess and to assimilate in the heart and through the senses as life-changing truth and reality.

    Another reason that this saying, “God hates the sin, but He loves the sinner” is once again gaining popularity is because it greatly compliments the politically correct philosophy that is literally being pushed upon us. After all, if God separates the sin from the sinner, then we can overlook sins such as adultery, fornication and homosexuality, and we can embrace those who are practicing them without having to take a stand against sin. In a sense, we can somehow prove how open-minded we are and love people into the kingdom of heaven. Such sentimental nonsense may let us off the hook from standing for truth, but in the end truth will judge us as not loving the truth.

    This brings us to what godly love is. As I have studied the love of God, I have realized a couple of important points about it.

1)     It is a commitment to do right by God, and right in regards to others. God made a commitment to do right by all mankind by sending His Son to die on the cross. Clearly, Jesus’ cross speaks of His incredible commitment to save us. To shun, ignore, mock, or reject His commitment is to come under His wrath. Such wrath speaks of God’s hatred and not love.

2)     God’s love compels us to do right. The Apostle Paul stated that the love of God constrained or compelled him (2 Corinthians 5:14). For Christians this means we are compelled to invest the reality of God in others. This brings us to the subject of hatred. Most people think of hatred in the emotional arena where one seeks revenge. In reality, hatred has different manifestations to it. One of the manifestations of hatred is indifference. Indifference does not care if a person ends up in hell or heaven. It is not compelled to care or get involved. It will simply ignore or close down to what is right and true. Obviously, the “so-called” love that is being promoted is not love at all, but falls into the category of hating others. Clearly, what our politically correct society is advocating is not respect or love for others, but hatred that remains silent as people go merrily on their way to hell.

3)     Finally, love does not rejoice in iniquity (1 Corinthians 13:6). If I really love someone, I cannot sit quietly by while he or she walks into the traps of Satan, sin and death. Such warnings display the greatest type of love toward another person. Granted, we cannot cause one to cease from the path of destruction, but on judgment day he or she will not be able to accuse anyone of not loving him or her enough to bring the proper warning.

    We are living in frightening times. Obviously, the politically correct philosophy will eventually result in the persecution of those who dare warn others of the destructive path they are on by standing for truth. It would be so easy to hide behind popular sayings to avoid the confrontation that will happen as darkness opposes the light with ungodly laws and mandates. Clearly, it is Satan’s attempt to silence God’s people from bringing a contrast. I, for one, do not look for persecution, but I have decided that if it comes between truth and persecution, I must choose the side of truth. After all, preaching the Gospel and standing for the truth in meekness are my mandates. The concept of being politically correct so that I can live in peace with those who hate and oppose the truth is ridiculous. After all, such people love darkness rather than the light. They insist on such darkness to keep their deeds from being reproved by the truth(John 3:16-21; Ephesians 5:9-13).

    I have a simple suggestion for believers. It is time to quit basing our philosophy on popular sayings, and get into the Word to find out how God really considers a matter. After all, He is the ultimate judge.