Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here is this week’s question: “Dear Dave and Tom, Every once in a while I hear someone say, God hates the sin but loves the sinner. However, I have found scriptures that seem to contradict that: Proverbs:6:16-19, Psalm:10:3, Psalm:11:5, Psalm:5:4-5, and so on. Can you explain?”
Tom: Dave, this must be our day for tough questions. I mean, not that we don’t have tough questions normally, but this is a tough one. Look at the scriptures that I have here. It says, Proverbs:6:16-19: “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, [but here, in 19] a false witness that speaketh lies and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Psalm:10:3: “For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and blesses the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” Psalm:11:5: “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth.” And lastly, and I think most powerfully, Psalm:5:4-5: “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.”
Dave: Well, first of all, Tom, “God hates sin and loves the sinner” is not a direct quote of any Bible phrase.
Tom: No, but we hear it all the time.
Dave: Right, yeah. But we do know that God loves sinners.
Tom: “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.”
Dave: Right, and we know that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. So, although it says He hates workers of iniquity, He certainly does not want their doom, and He certainly did not predestine them to that. So then, what could it mean? “Workers of iniquity my soul abrorreth,” he says, “those who do evil.” Well, it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love them as human beings—that He doesn’t pity them, that He doesn’t want them to be saved—but it means as far as their deeds are concerned, He hates them for doing that. It says, “He is angry with the wicked every day,” the scripture says. So I don’t think that there is a contradiction.
Tom: Dave, to me, why it seems to be a contradiction is that when I think of the word “hate,” someone you hate, you want the worst for them, you’d like to see them fall right on their face and the very worst happen to them. But God—that’s not the heart and mind of God, so when we see the term “hate” here, we can’t apply that—I can’t apply my mentality, sinner that I am, to God’s mindset, to the way God sees things. Even though the term, well, as you said—you started to explain the term, it does not have to mean that God, therefore, because He hates the workers of iniquity that He wants them to go to hell or He wants to rub their nose in it, or something that I might want, being in the flesh—certainly I wouldn’t do that to please the Lord.
Dave: You see, when we think of hating someone, the hatred attaches to the person. God’s hatred of evildoers is because of the evil that they do. It’s not because He hates that person, but He hates that person as an evildoer, and I think there is a difference. Maybe it’s difficult for human beings to make that distinction because when someone does you in, then you have a hatred against that person and find it very difficult, even if they should apologize—many people find it difficult, then, to have a kind thought toward that person because they are associating them with their deed forever after. God does not do that. He removes our iniquities from us as far as the East is from the West, and the Bible says there is no limit to what God could forgive when we confess.
Tom: But, Dave, you know, once again we have an issue that seems to be, or a belief here, a concept about the Bible, that’s a little off in terms of the idea that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Certainly, that’s nowhere found, but in a sense it’s true, because He did send His Son, as we said earlier, to die. He tells us to “love our enemies…. While we were yet his enemies, Christ died for us.” So we just cannot—I think the encouragement to me here is when I start looking at terms, when I begin to put my own ideas into a term, the definition of a term, it may apply somewhat, but looking at it from God’s perspective, it’s going to be different, because, well, we’re not God.
Dave: That’s very well said, Tom, we certainly are not God. We are little gods who are in rebellion against God, and want to be Gods.
Tom: And more often than not, we don’t see things His way. I guess that’s the point I am trying to make, Dave, but we need to, don’t we?
Dave: Of course. He says, “My ways are not your ways; my thoughts are not your thoughts.” But we know very clearly from the Bible that God hates wickedness: “Do not this abominable thing that I hate,” He says to the Jews! We know that He loves the whole world, and we know that He is willing to forgive the sinner, and we can rest in that.