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In his blog posting, Smile, God Hates you, Jesus Saenz asks whether it’s accurate to say that “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.”

He’s asking some valid questions. For example, where can this be found in the Bible? Why is it that we seem to exalt some weak, incomplete version of love as the highest “virtue” of God? Finally, how can we say that “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” in light of Psalm 5:5-6?

Let’s take a quick look at the Scripture that Mr. Saenz is using.

Psalm 5:5-6
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.

Before we go any further, I would like to say that I have never found the phrase “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” in the Bible. However, in contrast to Mr. Saenz and the video he posted, I do believe that God loves sinners and desires their redemption through Jesus of Nazareth and that a case can be made to this end from the counsel of Scripture.

I should also say, however, that this love does not excuse sin. In fact, based on my understanding of the Bible, I quite agree with Dr. Morey’s statement that the wrath of God remains on those who are not redeemed.

Scriptural Foundation

I believe that God loves sinners first because “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

We can see that God loved us while we were sinners and sent his Son to die for our sins so that we might be saved if we believe in (fully “buy into” and submit to) Jesus of Nazareth. While Jesus, the Messiah came to save rather than condemn, we stand condemned already if we don’t believe.

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Second, throughout the Gospels, I find Jesus hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the full representation of the most holy Father, God on earth, altogether “other”, loves sinners enough to meet them where they are so that they can come to repentance.

When asked why he does this, he responds that it is the sick rather than the healthy who need a doctor (Matthew 9:12, Mark 2:17, & Luke 5:31).

In another instance, Jesus responds with stories that relate God the Father searching after the “lost” as a man searching for a lost sheep or a woman searching for a lost coin. In each instance, they set aside all other priorities and search with abandon until they find what was lost – followed by a great celebration. (Luke 15:1-10)

Now for the Kicker

To me, the most amazing part of this is that the penalty for sin must be paid. The trade must be made – punishment and death for sin. It is irrevocable. It is a law.

Without the gift of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, each of us would be left to endure the penalty of sin – eternal estrangement from God. A penalty much worse, in fact, than what is lined out in Psalm 5 above.

But because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we can choose to trade our sin and death for his righteousness and life. It is in this way that we enter fully into the manifest love of God. It is through submission to Jesus that we can enter into the joy, promises, and blessing of God.

On the other hand, if we refuse this offer, we will find ourselves receiving the punishment for sin. There is no other way.

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