No more “Love the sinner; hate the sin”

th-25

When you love someone you embrace the whole person.

This whole “Love the sinner; hate the sin” thing should be buried for good — not because it’s wrong, but because it’s impossible. If you’re going to love me and hate my sin, just where does my sin stop, and the “me” that you’re going to love begin?

Or, to put it in clearer terms, how do you love a homosexual if you hate what you believe is their sin? How do you do that? You love the part of them that isn’t gay? Good luck with that.

Have you ever noticed that we use the “Love the sinner; hate the sin” thing only with sinners we really hate and don’t want to be around? We never use “Love the sinner; hate the sin” with our friends. We love our friends and we look past their sins — that is, if we even know what they are. Usually we don’t, because we all keep our sins so well hidden from each other. So we only hate the sin of people we really hate.

Let’s face it, you don’t want someone to love you and hate your sin. That’s what’s called conditional love. And no one is going to ever be completely free from sin on this earth so that means you will never be completely loved.

The love that Jesus gives embraces the whole person. That means I accept them along with their sin just as I have been accepted by God along with my sin. It makes no difference what the sin is because the sin has already been forgiven. Loving the whole person is an acknowledgment that sin has been dealt with on the cross.

This is what it means that love covers over a multitude of sins. It’s like a tsunami that envelopes everything in its path. As one of my favorite hymns states it: “O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free.  Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me.”

Your sin is no longer a barrier to God so neither is anyone else’s. God’s love on the cross has enveloped my sin — it has made it a non-issue. It’s done the same thing for everybody. Like another hymn says: “Love that is greater than all my sin.” That means the love God gives me for others is the same. It’s greater than all their sin, too.

Nothing can get in the way of this love. If you love somebody, you love them, not just the non-sinning part of them.

Someone sent me a link to a T-shirt with the following inscription. The first line was “Love the sinner; hate the sin,” and “hate the sin” was crossed out. The second line was “Love the sinner,” and this time “the sinner” was crossed out. The last line was simply “Love.” I think that’s it. That’s all we need. There are no conditions on it. That’s the whole thing right there … Love.

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15 Responses to No more “Love the sinner; hate the sin”

  1. kellief4 says:

    This is awesome. Will be sharing it.

  2. David Reis says:

    This one is tough. It seems the pharisee in me gravitates to hating the sin in someone ELSE, while accommodating sin in my own life. We know God loves everyone, the gospel of grace is available to everyone. At the same time, what is His perspective regarding sin? The woman “caught” in adultery (I think it was a setup to corner Jesus) was told to go and sin no more. Several sins were subject to stoning under the LAW. It seems to me it is somewhat akin to my relationship with a loved one suffering cancer. The disease was not a choice on their part. I can hate the cancer while loving the person. Especially when I have a clear understanding of my own afflictions.
    2 Peter 1:9 While I am unable to remove the cancer of sin, my ministry seems more like getting others to to come along to my next spiritual check up. And let the Father perform the appropriate procedures. Meanwhile I will continue to hate the sin in my own life, and by God’s grace give it no quarter. Until the day when we shall see Jesus in all His glory.

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    Loved Today’s Catch!

  4. William Douglas says:

    If we love someone who is a racist do we not hate what the attitudes of racial superiority and pride are doing to them? As C.S. Lewis points out “When we love someone it is not that we no longer care if they are dirty or clean,” or noble or profane. He reminds us that it is in such instances that we really begin to care. We desire the best and highest of those we love, do we not?
    True we love the whole person but we cannot love that they are, perhaps, embracing some sin like bitterness or envy or chronic mendacity that is harming them and those who love them.

  5. jwfisch says:

    I knew this was going to be hard. Yes, you love the racist and look to yourself for your own tendencies toward the same thing. And Lewis nailed it when he said that it is in such instances that we really begin to care. We don’t convict people of sin; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. But we can share about what the Holy Spirit is teaching us, and maybe that will be something the Holy Spirit can use in the other person’s life.

  6. Toni Sample says:

    This is a total cop out. If what you believe is true then we can do whatever we want because Jesus went to the cross, became sin for us, and put it to death on the cross. But, that is not what we are told in many other areas of the Bible. Jesus told the prostitute that he did not condemn her, but she was to go and sin no more. He tells us that we will all stand in front of Jesus and be held accountable for our sin (in Revelation). His Word tells us that having our sins forgiven does not mean that we can walk through life believing our sin means nothing regarding our eternal life. We are to acknowlege our sin, turn from our sin, ask for forgiveness for our sin, and receive forgiveness. But, first we must acknowledge our sin — and there lies the rub. Believing we are not sinning, when we are. Sin is not against people — sin is against God. We, as Christians are to love everyone. We can love a person and not love their openly revealed sin, because the sin is not against us, doesn’t hurt us, doesn’t really affect us. We can pray that God will intercede in their life and help their heart to recognize their sin, so that they can confess their sin and be forgiven. We say that prayer because we love that person and want them to spend eternity with God. God’s unconditional love for us does not mean that He loves our sin. It means He loves His creation — us. He did not create sin, He hates sin (that also is told to us in the Bible), we create our sin all on our own with our human lust for the flesh and inability to obey God. You need to go back and rethink this, please. And, may God guide you as He takes you on the journey that leads to freedom and joy. I do love you, whether we agree or not, the same as I love all sinners, as God tells me do.

    • jwfisch says:

      Toni – God’s unconditional love for us means that He has paid for our sin so He can be free to love us. God does not have to battle sin anymore. He has done away with sin. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!'” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) “no longer counting people’s sins against them” is a revolutionary statement that a lot of Christians don’t realize or believe. Paul is not talking about Christians here; he’s talking about the world. Sin is no longer the issue. That’s why it’s such good news we announce: Come back to God. He has removed all barriers. He’s not even counting anyone’s sins against them anymore. He has cleared the way.

  7. Sandie says:

    There is an old hymn, one of the first I learned…JUST AS I AM. He calls me to Himself, with all my nastiness because without Him there is no way I can get rid of the nastiness. Then begins the lifework of hauling my sin to the curb – a never-ending project because of my tendency to hold things back or outright bring them back from the rash heap. So it’s a continual spiritual back and forth, spoken of so eloquently by Paul which will only cease when I see Jesus face-to-face. We live in a paradox – the Bible tells us that we are clean through the blood of Jesus – that God sees us as spotless. Then it tells us we need to continually confess the sin that we still sin and receive forgiveness. Because of our old sin nature we struggle. So, JUST AS I AM. If God accepted me that way, how can I refuse someone that same grace? It doesn’t mean I condone their sin – it means I try to see them as God does – the way He saw me as I was on my crooked path to the cross of Jesus. All done with the utmost respect for this person created in His image and dearly loved by Him. JUST AS I AM.

  8. Ray M. says:

    I could not agree with this any less. Old and New Testament both are full of exhortations, demands even, to change behavior. 1 Corinthians 5 talks plainly of a son that was being tolerated that even pagans wouldn’t tolerate. “You should have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this.” (v.2b)

    My friends love me, and I them. If any of us is caught in sin it is not loving to let each other continue in sin. (Gal. 6:1)

    Loving the sinner but hating the sin is hard, but not impossible. God still has the right to demand obedience. True, we are not the Holy Spirit, but I’m grateful for my friends who hear the Spirit better than I do.

  9. Sandie says:

    I am grateful for the believers in my life, both before and after my salvation, who loved Jesus and me enough to keep pointing me toward Jesus, who agreed with me where they could, stepped in when it was critical, and left the rest to the Holy Spirit. They extended the same grace to me that they received from Jesus. The same grace each of us needs to get through a day, an hour, a minute…the next second. Exhortation without grace is pure judgement. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” I have had to drop so many stones, some boulders – some pebbles, but all judgement. Problem is…I keep picking them back up.

  10. drewdsnider says:

    This really got me thinking about my own attitudes, and I have to say that I truly do separate the sinner from the sin when I consider the person. That’s what I believe God sent Jesus to do (among other things): He didn’t condone adultery when He passed on condemning the adulteress – He told her to “sin no more”. Would He have said that, if He “loved the sin”? Same with the lame man: “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” As I see it, sin is an action – an outward appearance – and in God’s eyes, our outward appearance is not who we are.

  11. jwfisch says:

    When Jesus says “Go and sin no more,” is He expecting that person will be able to pull that off? Or is He setting her up, much like the Old Covenant does, to realizing her weakness toward sin — her inability to not sin — which leads her back to Christ? If it’s possible for us not to sin, then it’s possible for us to be perfect. Welcome to the Pharisee’s club. All I’m saying is let’s focus on the person, not the sin. And if we do talk about sin, talk about your own sin and not everyone else’s.

  12. LynnSuzanne says:

    Ohhhh boy. Look at the examples of “hating the sin” that are referenced…. Racism. Adultery. Our own inherent sin. And the initial example given: homosexuality.
    What?!
    The reason I’m drawn to this ministry is because I believe in the gospel of welcome. I want to share the love of Jesus in all relationships, as I strive to live in the challenging place of grace turned outward.
    But when the first example given for “Loving the sinner and hating the sin” is referencing LGBTQ folks, then you have just erected an instant wall… a sadly all-too-familiar shaming barrier that has long-separated LGBTQ folks from the Jesus community.
    Honestly! Why?
    I work with teens who are ostracized from their families and church communities because they’ve “come out”. These teens have gone through hell and hatred, been traumatized, abandoned.
    They’ve heard a token acceptance from their Christian communities “It’s not a sin to be born homosexual. The sin happens when you commit homosexual acts”.
    What?!?
    These teens would be heterosexual in a heartbeat, if it was possible. Believe me, no one wants to go through all of this… especially young people.
    I KNOW that the Jesus of the Gospel of Welcome has created these teens just as they are. And our Lord would not create over 10% of the population to be unable to experience love intimately with a loving partner unless they deliberately committed a sin. Jesus would not with-hold, from the people he loves, the blessed joy that a life-long committed relationship brings into one’s life.
    So perhaps some LGBTQ folks have finally found a Christian community to belong to, here at the Catch, where people know that loving our intimate soul-mate is God’s gift to all of us…
    And then they read this Catch?
    No matter that the statement (how do you love a homosexual…) is cushioned with the words “if you hate what you BELIEVE is their sin…”.
    I have come to realize that the Catch treads lightly on controversial topics which tend to divide the Christian community.
    I understand that there are people reading who have all sorts of opinions on those controversies, and by skirting around some of these things, and keeping focused on Jesus’ love and grace, that the Catch is able to reach out to so many more people.
    BUT… this time, there was a message…. a stand was taken… whether intentional or not.
    Thank you for reading this long comment.

    • jwfisch says:

      Criticism received. We have people from many different persuasions here; I’m trying to get everyone to think these things through — trying to clear a path for more open-mindedness. What if we simply remove “sin” from the discussion? That’s what God has done in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. My “stand” continues to be that God is reconciling everyone to Himself. I did not mean to leave anyone out.

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