You’ve probably heard it: ‘God hates the sin, but loves the sinner’. Is this true? What does God say in His word?

Dr. Mark Muska says the oft-used phrase is actually seeking to counterbalance two different truths about God.

“The scriptures are full of statements where God loves the world so His love is extended (John 3:16). The very action of sending Jesus is an action of love for humanity, so we cannot diminish that.”

“But at the same time, His righteous anger is incited against sin. So He does not like us just the way we are, He accepts us just the way we are. But He expects us to become more like Christ when we put our faith in the Gospel. There’s a tension there that has to be respected, and I think this phrase captures a little bit of that.”

We know God is love (1 John 4:8). We also know God that He is just, and therefore hates evil (Psalm 5:4-6).

“He truly does hate the sin, and if you commit yourself to unrepentant sin — that you’re just going to do it and think God loves you that way — you are really mistaken. Yet at the same time He does love us. We can’t get into this judgmental kind of attitude to say, the wrath of God is to be poured out, and terrify people, scare them half to death. He reaches out to us in a heart of love through Jesus Christ.

This is where the good news of the Gospel comes in.

“To understand God’s love, look at what He did to provide a way for you to be at peace with Him. He did it all through the Lord Jesus Christ: if that’s not love, I don’t know what love is. He didn’t do anything wrong himself but he took our punishment.”

“If someone is on death row and they’re awaiting execution, and Jesus comes in and volunteers to take their place — to die in their place so that they can be released and live — wouldn’t you respond to that with the greatest of gratitude?”

“That’s the tip of the spear of the gospel, it’s the love of God, and I don’t think we should ever stray from that. But as soon as you start talking about the need to be saved, you get into sin, and the problem that we have: that we are alienated from God because of our rebellion, so we do need Him to initiate reconciliation through His love.”

Highlight: Why God so loves the world

Hate the sin, love the sinner


Dr. Mark Muska is Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at University of Northwestern St. Paul. Dr. Muska is a regular guest on Faith Radio, including Connecting Faith‘s Ask the Professor where he answers live calls from listeners.

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