Does God love or hate sinners?

“Who loved me” Galatians 2:20

…is the verse from the Daily Remembrancer this morning February 23.1 It reminded me of what one of my sons once asked in an email:


Does God love or hate sinners?
These verses2 seem to indicate that He hates sinners (emphases in original email):

Psalm 5:4-6 For You are not a God that has pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with You. The foolish shall not stand in Your sight: You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy them that speak leasing [lies]: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Psalm 11:5 The LORD tries the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence His soul hates.

Leviticus 20:23 And you shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things does the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren.

Hosea 9:15 All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters [rebels].

But the New Testament seems to indicate that God loves sinners:

John 3:16 FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 5:8 But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

I find it hard to believe that God hates sinners because there are too many other verses indicating that God loves us sinners. Check out […] explaining how those verses in the Old Testament about God hating shouldn’t be interpreted too literally to mean that God hates the person sinning, but rather He hates sin.


My response at that time was:

This is a question that is often pushed one way or another, to either extreme. It is incorrectly stated ‘God hates sin but loves the sinner.’ You will not find a bible verse anywhere that says that.

The verses state God hates sin, God hates the sinner. It is so strong that God cannot look at sinners because of their sin, He detests it so much. (You can feel a little of that yourself in your own hatred of your own sins).

God is perfect and pure and cannot be defiled with sin. God is perfectly just, yet perfectly merciful and loving. Someone had to pay for our sins. God had the Jews sacrificing unblemished bulls etc annually to atone for their sins. But that does not work, they continually needed to do that. God’s justice required the debt to be paid in full but man could only weakly pay by annual sacrifices. To pay for sin permanently, eternally, a sinless man had to die for man’s sins, for those who repent [i.e. turned their minds to God, to follow Him]. Only then, would man’s sin be washed away and only then could God look on the sinner.

So what is the resolution? To satisfy His required justice God provided His own sacrifice, the god-man, the kinsman-Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20), His own Son, a sinless fully man, yet fully God, person. Jesus’ shed blood then blotted out our sin, or covered our sin (because we are still sinners) so that God could look on us and see no sin. So when God looks at us now He does not see a sinner, only a man made perfect by His Son. God still hates the sinners but we are sinners no more in that sense. Jesus said, we are now his friends (John 15:13-16), but once we were the enemy of God (Romans 5:10).

So God loved us so much (this is His perfect love and perfect mercy) that He himself died for us in our place, though He was blameless and had not any sin to repent of (John 3:16,17). The Father so loved us that He provided His own sacrifice His only begotten Son.

….while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We do not have to first be good or show goodness or stop sinning; it has nothing to do with that. It is because God chose to save us, He died for us. There is nothing you can do to be saved; there is no requisite action to merit salvation. It is all by the grace of God through faith.

John 3:36 He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

But note ‘...the wrath of God abides...’ on those who believe not. Wrath is anger, which means God (still) hates them. You can’t say wrath is not anger. A father’s wrath can come down upon a child in judgement, but the father can do that in love. Context is important. (Of course in this post-Christian world they can’t understand judgement leading to death as love.)

So all those verses of both hating the sinners and loving the sinners are true; they need to be put into context and you will see the greatest love story ever told.


Afterwards it also occurred to me that the analogy of father and child can be carried too far. When a father is angry with a child he can also love at the same time. That is what God does with us, in chastisement, or child training. Yet those who are not His children He brings down His wrath on, in judgement. And before we were saved we were not God’s child, we were his enemy.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

But now we are reconciled and no more enemies of God. But we can claim no merit ourselves. All of us are sinners; there is no goodness in us to merit anything before God. Christ did it ALL. He freely justified us before the Father so that we can cry “Abba, Father!”

Romans 3:23,24 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

“THE SON OF GOD GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME.” Every repentant believing sinner can say the same with Paul. And what was Paul before he wrote these words? A blasphemer, a persecutor, one who injured the church of God. And did Jesus love Paul? Yes: “He loved me.” The love of Jesus is free, and not on account of anything in a man. The cause of love is in God, not in the object loved. You may have looked for some reason to conclude that
God has loved you, but you would have been disappointed. The Lord says, “I will love them freely.” When we were dead in sins, He quickened us, because He loved us; He revealed Jesus to us because He loved us; He has given us His Holy Spirit because He loved us. Whom once He loves He never leaves. Jesus loves us this morning with a free, infinite, and eternal love. He loves our persons, apart from our graces and acts; these are the effects of His love, and not strictly the objects of His love. O Holy Spirit! whisper to our hearts this morning, “Jesus loved thee, even thee.” O to love Him in return! to love Him above health, wealth, comfort, yea, life itself! O to show forth the praises of His love by humility, faith,
constancy, and zeal! We love Him because He first loved us. —Daily Remembrancer Morning February 23

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [atoning sacrifice, legal satisfaction] for our sins.

DR M Feb 23

References

  1. The Christian’s Daily Remembrancer, International Edition originally published about 1840 under the title The Believer’s Daily Remembrancer by the Reverend James Smith. This version was adapted and edited by Dr Tow S.H. http://www.calvarypandan.sg/images/booksmagazines/Daily%20Remembrancer%20Intl%20edition.pdf
  2. All Scriptures are taken from King James Bible Easy Reader (KJVER).

About John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.
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