Bible Question:

Can you judge sin in a loving way? Love the sinner but hate the sin does not make sense. I do not see it in the Bible.

Bible Answer:

Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin

The statement “Love the sinner but hate the sin” cannot be found in the Bible. Unfortunately, it is common for people to assume that statements they hear in movies produced by Hollywood or hear from friends are biblical. Another statement that cannot be found in the Bible is “God helps those who help themselves.” That does not appear in the Bible either.

Are We To Hate the Sin?

It is clear from scripture that God hates sin (Psalm 5:4) and wants us to hate sin also (Proverbs 8:13). In Romans 7:21-25 it is clear that the apostle Paul struggled with sin and wanted to be free of sin in his flesh.  Therefore, it is true that we are to hate sin. Jesus became a man so that He could die in our place so that our sins could be forgiven. God hates sin and we should also!

Are We To Love Those Who Sin?

The Bible also teaches us to love others, even our enemies (Luke 6:27). If someone is an enemy, they are sinning or acting wickedly.

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 (NASB)

Notice that we are to bless those who wish evil and pray for them. That is a wonderful example of loving those who do evil. Yet, we are to hate the evil they commit, or which we may commit or have committed too!

Someone might think Psalm 5:4-5 reveals that God hates sinners.

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity. Psalm 5:4-5 (NASB)

But other verses teach that God loves us (John 3:16). Therefore, we must conclude that Psalm 5:4-5 and other passages teach that in comparison to God’s love for His godly ones, He hates the wicked or sinners because of their sin. For example, Yet, God still loves them.

The closest verse in the Bible to the statement “Love the sinner but hate the sin” occurs in Ezekiel 33:11.

Say to them, “As I live!” declares the Lord  GOD, “I take  no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked  turn from his way and live.  Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11 (NASB)

Conclusion:

In Ezekiel 33:11 God clearly states that He is not glad when the wicked die. That reveals He loves the wicked, but He still hates their sin. He wants the wicked to turn away from their sin. This is a great lesson for everyone, that we are to hate sin, including the sin in our own lives and love everyone. We can take great comfort and joy that God loves us and the wicked too (Romans 5:8)!

But God  demonstrates  His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,  Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NASB)

The statement may not exist in the Bible, but the principle exists in the Bible. It is important to understand that God loves and judges us. His judgments are true and righteous. He does not judge as we judge (Revelation 16:7).

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. Psalm 19:9 (NASB)

According to Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P. at Catholic Answers the statement “Love the sinner but hate the sin” comes from a letter written by St. Augustine.[1] However, more than likely Augustine understood that the principle was biblical since it exists in the Bible.

 

References:

1. Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com/index.php/qa/who-said-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin)

 

Suggested Links:

Does God hate sinners? Ps. 5:5 seems to suggest that He does.
Nicodemus Comes To Jesus By Night
Can We Judge Others?