I sort of “found” myself in this conversation recently, a conversation that centered around the question, “Does God love sinners?”
It’s funny what some people believe about this particular ideology, for lack of a better word. Some seem to take the most simplistic approach, with something like, “He loves the sinner and hates their sin”. Others delve deep into the theology of their own religious leanings, which can bring expansive debates, to say the least.
Personally, I have my own ideas, but not because someone told me thus and so. I try, with all that is in me, to gauge my answers to questions like this strictly on the Word of God. Because if it’s in there, I believe it to be true, with my whole heart. If it’s NOT in there, it isn’t. This is how I attack everything I come up against. At times, it seems a little bit crazy, but I’m ok with that. The Bible says that we would be called a “peculiar people” and I’ve found that to be entirely true!
God’s Stance on Sinners?
In the Old Testament, this topic is tackled in a completely different way than in the New Testament. All we need to do to find out what God thought about sin and sinner alike is to take a look at a few examples of His wrath. The flood, for instance, when the wickedness of man had driven God to regret having created man in the first place. Noah and his family were righteous in God’s eyes, and He chose to save them in the ark, along with all the animals He had created.
Another example would be the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Man’s sin had once again become too great to be excused, and so the entirety of the two cities were destroyed. Lot and his family were the only ones saved, even though Lot begged for an extension of this judgment. He asked God to spare the city if he could find even one righteous man. However, after much searching, there were none to be found. And after all of that, even Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt as she turned to look upon the city.
There are other stories like these, some bigger and more well known than others. But they all seem to point to the fact that God hates sinners. However, I think we misunderstand the idea of how God relates to sin.
What Is Sin?
In order to understand God’s feelings toward the sinner, we first have to understand exactly what sin is. The more modern variations of the dictionary will give you a definition such as, “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” In other words, breaking God’s rules. But there’s more to it than that.
Bible Study Tools is a website that stretches the definition a bit more, even going so far as to call sin a “mystery that eludes definition”. It also says that sin is the breaking of God’s law, but also reminds us that a failure to do right is also considered sin. They talk about the fact that sin is
Often times, in fact most often, sin comes as a direct result of the encounter between obedience and rebellion. Of course, in the case of sin, it is rebellion that is chosen over obedience. Sin reaches for something that the flesh considers valuable, such as security, pleasure or peace, just to name a precious few.
The Wages of Sin
Most of us who are familiar with the Scriptures know the reference here: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.
Because God is a righteous God, He had to carry out the punishment for sin. As humans given free will, it is ultimately our choice to accept that “gift of God” that comes by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. We can choose, by making the right choices, to go to Heaven. Or, we can choose to turn away from that, and find eternal spiritual death in hell.
Because we serve a fair and just God.
Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His blood as the “once and for all” sacrifice for all sin. I would say that, in and of itself, is reason enough to believe that God certainly does not HATE sinners. For God to become flesh, walk among His creation so that He would be familiar with our sufferings and flesh-life, and then die on a cross is the ultimate sacrifice. Why, no other “god” of any other religion has died for his own people.
In the Old Testament, there was the need for a yearly sacrifice; a lamb, without spot or blemish, that the priest had to sacrifice for the sins of all. The priest then had to repeat this act, every single year, because animal blood could not cover such a multitude of sin forever. The priest had certain stipulations to which he had to adhere or face death himself.
After Jesus’ death, he became that sacrifice…the atonement – a blood so pure and untainted that it finally covered the sins of all mankind. All the sinner now has to do is accept that free gift of salvation, be baptized by immersion in water, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And he, or she, will be saved.
I’m glad that my God doesn’t hate sinners! In fact, He is no respecter of persons at all (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 1:17). If you are ready to turn from your sin, call on Him today! He stands ready to hear.
And He loves you SO MUCH!