It’s a common phrase that you hear banded about in Christian circles:
‘God loves the sinner but hates the sin’
I’ve thought about it a lot over the years – and probably a number of you have heard me talk about it….and some will be bored with hearing me talk about it, no doubt!
The question is – is it Biblical?
Personally, I don’t think it is – and what’s more I think the phrase is partronising and self-righteous – and those who use it have forgotten that they are also sinners in need of God’s grace.
It’s moralism gone crazy in my book!
No-where in the Bible does God separates the status of a sinner from their sin – and it is ‘whilst we were yet sinners that Christ died for us’!
God accepts us and loves us as sinners who sin – not because of what we have done or not done – but in Christ by his grace through our faith in his saving death and resurrection – this is incredible stuff!!!
Therefore, to say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin makes no Biblical or doctrinal sense whatsoever!
With this in mind, it was encouraging to read a post on the Euangelion blog (here) saying pretty much the same thing:
Recently I was driving on a highway in upper Wisconsin on a weekend away with the wife. Plastered on the side of a barn visible to everyone that drove by was the oft quoted evangelical proverb “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”. I have been reflecting on this idea for a while now and the more I think about it the more I realize it is by and large the basis of the evangelical community’s relationship to the world. It of course seems to capture the essential ideas of God’s love for his fallen world, but as I have rolled this over in my mind I’m growing in my doubt about whether this is really a biblical concept for two reasons.First, the concept inappropriately separates deeds from person. The Bible seems to rather point the opposite direction: our deeds are a reflection of who we are. I find it all to common that people rationalize deviant behavior with the thought “this isn’t really me”. My retort is: “No this is you. And until you embrace that fact there can be no growth”. In my view, the mirror reflection of one’s identity is one’s deeds.Second, the perspective seems to undermine the radical message of Paul’s Gospel of God’s love for sinners. This is particularly pointed when I consider Romans 5:8-10:But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!These verses suggest to me that God doesn’t divide between person and deeds. God loves sinners full stop.
This makes sense to me, and I’ve come to a similar conclusion – God loves the sinner full stop!
In Jesus – through his death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb.
Thats what the Bible says – and thats what we should preach!
‘God loves the sinner and died on the cross at Calvary in order to deal with the sin’
Now thats a truth worth preaching, eh?