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Abhor Sin, But Love Sinners
Bible study on loving sinners.

It can be difficult to separate our feelings toward a person's sinful behavior and the person himself. But as Christians, trained by God through His word, we are commanded to abhor sin while loving the person committing sin.

God Hates Sin
The Bible tells us that God hates sin. The word "hate" denotes a strong dislike or strong aversion toward a particular thing.

There are some things God specifically says He hates:

  • "There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers" (Pr. 6:16-19).
  • "'For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'and him who covers his garment with wrong,' says the Lord of hosts. 'So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously'" (Mal. 2:16).

Christians Hate Sin
Christians must have a very strong dislike for sin, so strong that we abhor sin.

In Rom. 12:9, Paul says, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."

The word "abhor" means to detest or hate something. As a matter of fact, the Revised Standard and New Revised Standard use the word hate in Rom. 12:9 -- Christians are commanded to hate evil.

As God's children, we hate sin because we understand God's word. In Psalms 119:104, David says, "From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way."

Although we teach our children not to say hate as it's used in the world, maybe we should teach them to use the word Biblically and confess their hatred of sin. Perhaps this would help them grow up hating sin as God commands.

As I think about hating sin, I remember a young man in Thomasville who had a new laptop computer. He was using it one day and pornography started to come up on the screen. He rushed to shut it off before he saw the vile picture, and crashed his new computer. He called me and we installed an old copy of the computer's registry, restoring it to the way it was before the pornography. I was impressed that day by a young man who hated sin so much he crashed his computer to avoid it.

God Loves Sinners
Thankfully, God loves sinners. If He didn't, none of us could be saved, because we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

Paul explains God's love for sinners like this: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6-8).

And John tells us of God's love to save us while we were sinners: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn. 3:16). "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn. 4:9-10).

Christians Love Sinners
A lawyer tested Jesus, asking Him which is the greatest commandment in the Law. Jesus told him to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then he gave him the second greatest command, saying, "'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matt. 22:39).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us to be like our Father in heaven by loving sinners -- even people who persecute us. He says, "'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. . . .'" (Matt. 5:43-45).

Paul, summing up our relationship with other people, commands, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:8-10). As Christians, we love our neighbors. Therefore, we love sinners.

We must separate our attitude toward sin from our attitude toward people who commit sin.

Though we work hard to hate sin, we must work equally hard to love the people who commit the sin we hate. When we do this, we are like our Father who loved us when we were sinners.