I received an email today from someone who had taken exception to something I shared in a sermon. They reminded me that we should "...love God and hate sin." That's one of those phrases I call Christian ease. I think all of us may have used that term at one time or another. But on further thought I began to struggle with this individuals interpretation of it's usage. For them it became a license to hate the sinner as opposed to hating the sin that they might be engaged in.
I have no problem with the fact that God does hate sin for a variety of reasons, the Bible makes this clear; Psalms 5:4-5 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.
God hates sin because He is holy; holiness is the most exalted of all His attributes (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 6:8). His holiness totally saturates His being. His holiness epitomizes His moral perfection and His absolute freedom from blemish of any kind (Psalm 89:35; 92:15; Romans 9:14).
The Bible presents God’s attitude toward sin with strong feelings of hostility, disgust, and utter dislike. For example, sin is described as putrefying sores (Isaiah 1:6, NKJV), a heavy burden (Psalm 38:4), defiling filth (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1), a binding debt (Matthew 6:12-15), darkness (1 John 1:6) and a scarlet stain (Isaiah 1:18).
God hates sin for the simple reason that sin separates us from Him: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2; see also Isaiah 13:11; Jeremiah 5:25). It was sin that caused Adam and Eve to run away from God and hide “among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). Sin always brings separation, and the fact that God hates sin means that He hates being separated from us. His love demands restoration, which in turn demands holiness.
When we remove the grace, love, mercy, forgiveness and redemptive nature of God from the issue of sin we are only left with a hate for the sinner. Yes God hates sin, yet He was willing to provide the very means by which that sin could be removed, Jesus Christ. It was through that divine and selfless act that we all recognize that God hated sin enough to provide His Son to cleanse us from its stain and curse.
Let us have a love for the sinner, not their sin that would compel us to reach out to them with the same grace and salvation that was capable of cleansing us from ".....all unrighteousness."
2 Peter 1:5-9
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.