Are we to love the sinner but hate the sin?

Question: "Are we to love the sinner but hate the sin?"

God loves mankind and He is love.....hang on to those truths. The Bible clearly teaches that God is love, as well as that God shows love. For example, 1 John 4:8-9 says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him."

Many Christians use the cliche "Love the sinner, hate the sin." However, we must realize that this is an exhortation to us as imperfect human beings. The difference between us and God in regard to loving and hating is vast. Even as Christians, we remain imperfect in our humanity and cannot love completely, nor can we hate without malice. But, God can do both of these perfectly well, because He is God! God can hate without any sinful intent at all. Therefore, he can hate the sin and the sinner in a perfectly holy way and still be willing to lovingly forgive at the moment of that sinner's repentance and faith (see Malachi 1:3; Revelation 2:6; 2 Peter 3:9). Mysterious, but true, God can perfectly love and hate a person at the same time. This means He can love them as someone He created and can redeemable, as well as hate them for their unbelief and sinful lifestyle. We, as imperfect human beings, cannot do this, thus we must remind ourselves to "love the sinner, hate the sin."

How exactly does that work? We hate sin by refusing to take part in it and by condemning it when we see it. Sin is to be hated, not excused or taken lightly. We love the sinner by being faithful in witnessing to them of the forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ. A true act of love is treating someone with respect and kindness even though they know you do not approve of their lifestyle and/or choice. It is not loving to allow a person to remain stuck in sin. It is not hateful to tell a person they are in sin. In fact, the exact opposites are true.

Recommended Resource: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson.

Related Topics:

What is the definition of sin?

How can I overcome sin in my Christian life?

Does God love everyone or just Christians?

Why does God love us?

Is it good to have close friendships with unbelievers?

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Are we to love the sinner but hate the sin?