The phrase, “God loves the sinner but hates sin” is not found in the Bible. But Jude 1:22–23 presents a similar message: “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Here, Jude exhorts his readers to be merciful to sinners as they realize the fate that awaits the unsaved.
The Bible clearly teaches that God is love. First John 4:8–9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” And this is how God showed His love towards us: He sent his One and only Son into the world that we might live through Him (John 3:16).
God hates sin because He is a holy God (1 Peter 1:16) at the same time He loves and forgives the sinner when he/she repents of his/her wickedness (Acts 3:19). In like manner, Christians are to hate sin but have love to sinners for whom Christ died (1 Peter 2:17) and reach out to them.
“God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). While trying to reach out to their brethren who are living in sin, Christians are to keep themselves “from being polluted by the world” and stay “pure and faultless” (James 1:27).
Loving the sinner does’t mean that Christians don’t invite them to repent. Sin causes eternal death (James 1:15), this should cause the truth to be spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus Himself told the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He pointed her to the main thing that she needed—the immediate forsaking of her sins.
Repentance must be honest and sincere. Not only must sinners be sorry for their sin; they must turn away from it by God’s grace. A repentance which consists in nothing more than wishing or hoping is utterly worthless in the sight of God. We need to know that until we cease to do evil and turn from our sins, we do not really have a genuine experience (Psalms 32:1, 6; 1 John 1:7, 9).
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In His service,
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