This is a good century to be a sinner.
You get all the perks of grace and none of the brutality of God’s severity.
All of this rides on an overworked phrase that goes a little something like this: “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.”
Quaint. But is it biblical?
Sinners 3,000 Years Ago
Three thousand years ago–give or take a century or three–you didn’t want to be a sinner. If you were, consider yourself the nail beneath God’s hammer of judgment.
God hated your sin. And He hated you, too.
Just read the first fifty chapters of Psalms.
Fourteen times God says He hates the sinner, His wrath is on the liar, and so forth. Or at least that’s what D. A. Carson said in his book The Difficult Doctrine of God’s Love.
Carson on “God Hates Sinners”
Carson is a smart guy.
Got his B.S. in chemistry and mathematics. He followed that up with a Masters in Divinity and then a Ph.D. in the New Testament.
He taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for decades. He’s a founding member of the Gospel Coalition. He’s a successful author.
In other words, he’s an authority.
You can trust him.
There’s just one problem: he never locates the fourteen examples of “God hates sinners.” I can’t live with that.
Go to Google, and here’s what I find:
- Jared Wilson on “Hate the sin, love the sinner?
- Mark Driscoll says God Hates You
- Justin Taylor How Do God’s Love and God’s Wrath Relate?
Their text? You guessed it: all of them quote D. A. Carson.
14 Times God [Blanks] the Sinner in Psalms 1-50
Unfortunately nobody offered to pin point these fourteen texts. So I read the first fifty Psalms to try to find them.
Here’s my effort:
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
For You [a]have smitten all my enemies on the [b]cheek;
You [c]have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Psalm 3:7
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
6 You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. Psalm 5:5-6
If [a]a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and [b]made it ready. Psalm 7:12
You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever. Psalm 9:5
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates. Psalm 11:5
You save an afflicted people,
But haughty eyes You abase. Psalm 18:27
They cried for help, but there was none to save,
Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them. Psalm 18:41
Your hand will find out all your enemies;
Your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 You will make them as a fiery oven in the time [a]of your anger;
The Lord will swallow them up in His wrath,
And fire will devour them. Psalm 21:8-9
For You will make them turn their back;
You will [a]aim with Your bowstrings at their faces. Psalm 21:12
Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
Nor the deeds of His hands,
He will tear them down and not build them up. Psalm 28:5
For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the Lord sustains the righteous. Psalm 37:17
But the wicked will perish;
And the enemies of the Lord will be like the [a]glory of the pastures,
They vanish— like smoke they vanish away. Psalm 37:20
For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
But those cursed by Him will be cut off. Psalm 37:22
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies. Psalm 45:5
Now consider this, you who forget God,
Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver. Psalm 50:22
Perhaps I’m naive, but I expected to find “God hates sinners” fourteen times in the first 50 Psalms. You know, precise wording. Or at least some variation.
That is not the case at all.
I found examples of God cutting off sinners. Crushing sinners. Cursing sinners. Shooting arrows into faces. What counts and doesn’t?
Is God Hates Sinners Biblical?
Now, I use a New American Standard Bible. Perhaps if I used a NIV or ESV I might have different results. And I have to confess: some of these examples sound futuristic. Meaning God will cut off sinners at Judgment. Not now.
I left all of the links so you can explore in context. Tell me if I’m wrong.
But the bottom line is this: “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner” seems to be in serious trouble.
Of course this isn’t the end of the story. There is another half we need to explore. We’ll do that next week.
What Do You Think?
Is “God hates the sin, loves the sinner” biblically justified?
Are there any New Testament texts that God hates sinners? John 3:36 comes to mind: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not [a]obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Share your thoughts. Brutal and all.