It was the great Christian philosopher Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” If you spend any time around people who inhabit the modern permissive culture, you’ve probably heard that phrase used when someone wants to have the appearance of being loving to all people, but they can’t really reconcile how to deal with an unrepentant sinner. I want to talk about that. Firstly, this axiom simply isn’t in the Bible. The man who said it is highly revered by our modern secular culture as a wise sage, but he was sinner who rejected Jesus and is tragically burning in hell.
Only God can Judge Me!
For Christians to openly discuss moral truth — good and bad, right and wrong — is generally forbidden these days. We’re supposed to keep our comments confined to our church like it’s a remote monastery. And if we speak about moral matters, we will be subject to the wrath of the single Bible verse it seems everyone out there knows: “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” (Or it’s hyper-concatenated “Judge Not”). I’ve had it paraphrased to me thusly: “Only God can judge me!” only to calibrate the person demanding judgement that they were quoting Tupac Shakur lyrics, not the Bible.
Christians and biblical, christian values, are being forced into the closet while fornicators and perverts literally march naked in the streets and demand that our children be sent to their public-school anti-religious indoctrinations ever-so-thinly veiled as “anti-bullying” education (that expressly bullies heteronormative Christian kids if they won’t sign pledges to be an “ally”).
Inherent in their demand to leave sinners to be judged by God alone, is their belief somewhere in all of the coming judgement, that it won’t be that bad—because all judgment in the modern culture is relative. “So what if Freddie is gay? It’s not like he’s a bank robber or a heroin dealer.” Sinners are relatively less bad than others, so by comparison, they look good. “Even though Heather cheated on her husband, at least she cheated with a vegan who voted for Bernie.”
The moral culture is completely rotten. There is wickedness in the whole world. And there’s apparently no need to hide your sin anymore. We’re now beyond “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Vegas is everywhere. It’s not just Sin City way out in the desert any more. The whole world is rejecting good moral order. You may have heard about the drug-fueled gay orgy hosted by wealthy retired bishops in Vatican City? Most Christians are willfully ignorant about the largest annual gay pride event and week-long orgy in the world which is located in the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv. Yes… the “Holy Land” is now the HQ for the biggest gathering of reprobates on earth since Sodom and Gomorrah.
Every kind of wickedness is running rampant and becoming “normalized”. Christians have allowed divorce to be normalized for people in the church and some pastors I’ve known have either done nothing to stem the tide of marital destruction in their churches, or in some cases, they’ve even sanctioned it! If you know scripture, you know that God’s wrath is only held back by his even greater grace, but only for so long. He hates sin and his wrath is not going to be against “sin” merely as an abstract concept, but against the actual sinners who are doing the sinning.
How then should we contend with the “normalized” sinner?
It’s important that we’re always ready to love our neighbor righteously, whether they are, in our own perception, deserving of love or not. God loved me when I was a rebellious atheist and a wicked sinner. Romans 5:8 says, “…God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I know that I was once an enemy of God, but that through the lovingkindness of believers I encountered (and in spite of a greater number of self-righteous hypocrites), I was able to understand my sin problem, surrender my life (warts and all) to Jesus and believe in him for salvation from the penalty of my sins. It took a while with me, but it eventually happened, so I’ll try to be patient with those who are slow on the uptake. Patience, it turns out, is a fruit of the spirit.
If we really love our neighbor, we tell them the hard truth.
If a neighbor or stranger, even an “enemy of God” (like I once was) asked for my help or clearly needed it, I would give it without question. Galatians 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” If I love my neighbor, it means that I don’t want to see them burn in hell.If I really love my neighbor, it means that I have to be righteously (not hypocritically) honest with them about the wickedness that God hates. Most people have only herd the comforting truth that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), but they do not want to hear the uncomfortable truth that God is both perfect in love; and perfect in justice and wrath. But you have to understand the bad news, before the good news makes any sense.
What if the Bible shows that God hates sinners, not just their sin?
There are many clear passages where it’s easy to see God’s character that is perfect, holy and just. God would no longer be holy if he accepted sin, violating his own law and corrupting his perfect character. He makes a singular offer for those who are sinners: Believe in Jesus the Son and be reconciled to God the Father. Apart from that, sinners remain condemned.
These truths are relatively simple to understand, but hard to hear for many:
- God created mankind so that he could love us and so that we could love him.
- He gave us free will, because unless we could choose to NOT love God, we couldn’t freely and truly love him at all. This is the “law of love”. Love must be freely given or it isn’t love.
- Because of the disobedient sin of Adam, mankind came under the law of sin and death. Condemnation became the default state of man.
- Out of God’s great love for us, he sent Jesus to reconcile every sin since Adam, and to pay the price for all mankind (John 3:16).
- Believing in Jesus as the only means of salvation from the eternal punishment that sin deserves, makes you “saved” and holy in the sight of God. You are saved by your faith in Jesus alone and nothing else. There are no alternative means to be saved (John 14:6).
- Those who do not believe in Jesus for the salvation of their sins are condemned already. (John 3:18)
- The natural response to receiving the free gift of salvation is a changed heart that should lead to more repentance, not more sin. (Romans 2:4)
- Saved people still sin (1 John 1:8), but they are no longer under the Penalty of sin. Eventually, as the Word and the Holy Spirit work to sanctify a saved person, the temptation to sin loses it’s Power. And when a saved person is someday reconciled to God the Father in Heaven, they will no longer even be in the Presence of sin. Where a Holy and perfect God is… sin cannot exist. Just ask the unclean priests who tried to enter the Holy of Holies as they tried to bring strange fire to God. Instant death.
Sin is personal to God
When God hates sin, it’s not in a vacuum. It’s not theoretical. It’s tied to a person, and that person who is sinning is under God’s wrath.
We know from the beginning of the Bible that God is jealous and hates idolatry and the worship of false gods more than anything (Exodus 20). We understand from passages like Leviticus 18 and 20 that sexual sins of all kinds are abominations to God. And from the books of Psalms and Proverbs, we know that God hates a myriad of personal sins (not an exhaustive list):
“These six things doth the Lord hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
 A proud look,  a lying tongue,
and  hands that shed innocent blood,
 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
 feet that be swift in running to mischief,
 A false witness that speaketh lies,
and  he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Scripture shows clearly that God hates sinners:
“For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:
neither shall evil dwell with thee.
The foolish shall not stand in thy sight:
thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing:
the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.” (Psalm 5:4-6)
“The Lord trieth the righteous:
but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone,
and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” (Psalm 11:5-6)
And the only reason He is withholding His wrath is for His Name’s sake. So that the full glory of His Divine Will can be accomplished, in His own time.
“For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isaiah 48:9-11)
This should cause anyone to want to turn away from habitual, willful sin… especially the those who are saved! If someone claims to be a “gay christian” or a “gangster christian” or a “drunkard christian,” either they’re an unsaved poseur (most likely) or they’re very confused as they wrestle with the Holy Spirit who is convicting them of their sinful behavior. If someone who claims to be a Christian is struggling with an addiction, that addiction will no longer be a source of any satisfaction for them, because they will know, on some level, that they are grieving the Holy Spirit and mocking their own salvation. The door to that sin should start to close as they become ever more sanctified.
You’re not supposed to habitually and perpetually sin as a believer.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries…It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27,31)
This isn’t to say that someone can lose their salvation, because once it is given, it isn’t rescinded (John 10:28), but to point out that Spirit-filled believers in Jesus would find it spiritually torturous to continue in a wicked lifestyle. acting as if no salvation was given at all. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that they didn’t actually believe in the need for a savior, or in his saving power to begin with. Sadly, false conversions happen, and with modern, wishy-washy christianity, probably a lot more often than they should.
The current ethos in the world, especially around what the Bible describes as sexual wickedness, is that sexual ‘freedom’ (which is really not freedom, but bondage) “is on the right side of history”. But history is already written. God, who sits outside time and space, knows that He will bring all of this rebellion to a catastrophic and terrifying end, reconciling those who are saved in Jesus, and punishing the wicked who reject Him.
Time is short.
As a preacher once joked, “If God doesn’t bring some wrath soon, he’s going to owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology!” By any measure… the hour is drawing nearer. Bring in the harvest right now. Don’t wait. If there’s anything you can do to save someone from the wrath to come; now is the time.
“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:20.