God Hates the Sinner, and Loves the Sinner

Following up on why we should abandon the phrase “God loves the sinner but hates the sin,” it would be helpful to clarify a bit of what I mean.

The Christian cliche, “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin,” has quite a few problems:

  1. It implies that God doesn’t hate sinners, only their sin. But, according to places like Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5, and Malachi 1:1-13, God does hate sinners.
  2. It therefore obscures the fact of God’s active wrath against sinners (Romans 1:18f, John 3:36).
  3. Obscuring God’s wrath against the sinner minimizes the cross.
  4. Minimizing the cross insults the glory of God.
  5. Insulting the glory of God is the essence of sin (Romans 3:23).

If phrases are helpful here (and I’m not sure they are), a better way to phrase the truth might be, “God hates the sinner, and loves the sinner.” Why?

  • The Bible says that God hates sinners.
  • The Bible also says that God loves sinners.
  • These two things are not at odds.

Most often, the last part bugs people – how can God love sinners and hate sinners at the same time? How can that be true? Consider a few truths:

  1. God’s character is a unity. He is never at odds with Himself the way we are with ourselves. As Psalm 85:10 says, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” God’s justice and His peace are not at odds, neither His love for His people and His faithfulness to His name.
  2. Even toward the same person, His love and wrath are not at odds. God is angry with sinners because of our sin, but He loves because He is loving. His love is not based on our goodness, but on His gracious character. “There is no one good, no, not one,” (Romans 3:12).
  3. God’s wrath and love meet in the cross. God shows His love to sinners by showing His wrath against sinners. His wrath – by grace! praise Jesus! – goes on His Son. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [wrath-bearing sacrifice] by his blood, to be received by faith,” (Romans 3:24-25).
  4. God’s wrath and His love move in the same vein. Both God’s wrath and His love are holy. Both characteristics aim at displaying the glory of God. Both serve to magnify His grace (Romans 9:22-23).
  5. God’s wrath and His love are equally necessary for the gospel. While folks often say that without God’s love for sinners, there is no good news, it is equally true that without God’s wrath against sinners, there is no good news. The gospel is lost when we lose God’s wrath.

So that brings us back to the cross of Jesus Christ. If you wonder if you or someone you love is mainly under God’s wrath or in the grip of His gracious love, John 3:36 makes it clear:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

2 Responses to God Hates the Sinner, and Loves the Sinner

  1. Pingback: What Preaching the Gospel Isn’t, and Is « Your Cross on My Back

  2. Pingback: Universalism Denies the Gospel « Your Cross on My Back

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: