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
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.
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
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