Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Is "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" Biblical?

I saw an article yesterday that argued Christians need to stop saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.” The author commented on the fact that this phrase does not appear in the Bible, which is true. And certainly, that is a good starting point for a review of what we should say we believe. But she misses the point when she claims this idea is not present in the teachings of Jesus.

Whenever these arguments are made, they do a disservice by attempting to split the Word of God. But the truth is, the rest of Scripture is just as necessary and just as inspired as the Gospels. It all came through the Holy Spirit. This is a key point for us to remember.

In John 16:8-11, Jesus says that the Spirit will convict the world of sin. And how does He do that? Through those He indwells. We have not only a responsibility, but a burden from the Spirit to tell the world that they are the enemies of God. But we must remember, so were we (Ephesians 2:1-10). So, as Romans 10:14, 15 make clear, sinners can only know they need a savior if they are told. It should be our love for them that drives us to tell them the potentially painful truth. We should be inspired to help them by remembering that we, too, were once in the dark, but someone told us about God’s judgment and His grace.

Sin needs to be hated, because God hates sin (Psalms 5:4). But sinners need to be loved, because Christ died for them (Romans 5:6-11). That means letting them know they are the enemies of God, which they might not like to hear. But it is not a kindness to keep that truth from them. Rather, it is like withholding bitter medicine from the sick. Because only if they know they are enemies can they learn He offers to make them His friends.

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