I got into a twitter conversation this afternoon on the subject of whether God hates sinners. The conversation was prompted by this Mark Driscoll video.
Now, what do we make of that?
There are a number of verses in Scripture that seem to indicate that God does hate sin and sinners. For example, Psalm 5:5 says “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” Psalm 11:5 says “The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”In Jeremiah 12:8 YHWH says “My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.” In Hosea 9:15 he says, “Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them.” And of course there is the simple but powerful Romans 9:13 – “As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.””
Scripture even has psalms calling on those who love the Lord to hate evil (Psalm 97:10, Psalm 119:104, Psalm 119:113, Psalm 119:128) yet we flinch from ascribing such an emotion to God? Why is this? Is it not enough to see the Scriptures clearly showing God hating sin and sinners to accept that this is true?
Is our problem with this idea that God hates sinners because we have a very negative view of hate from our human experience of it? More often then not, human hate turns into unrighteous anger and the desire for vengeance. But the Biblical picture is very different. Because God is holy and righteous he can both love and hate in a perfect manner. God hates sin and he will judge it because he is holy and righteous. God saves sinners who he loves through the death of his son because he is holy and righteous. The two things, hate and love, are not mutually exclusive – they are the clear good aspects of a holy and righteous God. God is good because he hates sin and will judge it. If it were not so, if sin were not judged, then there would be no justice. God is good because he loves those he saves, who instead of having the wrath that is stored up against them exercised on them, are counted clean and perfect and holy in his sight through no action of their own.
And here’s my last question – if God doesn’t hate sinners, why does he judge them for their sin?
Or have I got it all completely wrong?