“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I get it, in theory. But because sin, by definition, is an act committed by a human being, it can be challenging—in practice—to separate the two: sinner and their sin. When a person commits a transgression—against me, against my loved ones, against an innocent child, against God—it’s pretty natural for me to swing closer to the “hate” end of the continuum (anger, indignation, resentment), with some attendant muddiness about what, or whom, I’m actually hating.
When I burn with anger (the red of which you can sometimes see on my face), who is the target? I admit that it’s easiest to direct my emotions toward the offender, the one who has wronged me (or others). But then I’m reminded: “Son, that person has been deceived, blinded, tricked, used by your true enemy, who is also their enemy…because he is the enemy of all who live. He is my enemy.”
So, yes, I “hate the sin.” But more than that, I hate our enemy. Hate him. Stomp up and down, bang the pulpit, straight-up hate him. And you should hate him too.
- Hate him for telling your friend that it’s easier to turn to another woman than to wrestle through the challenges of a strained marriage.
- Hate him for persuading you that talking behind someone’s back is “lifting them up in prayer.”
- Hate him for convincing men that God thirsts for the blood of innocents upon the blade of a machete.
- Hate him for exchanging liberty for bondage, and duping women into a future ridden with guilt and shame for expressing “control over their bodies.”
- Hate him for blinding medical professionals to the humanity of the young ones they dissect and dismember in pursuit of treatments and cures.
All of us have entertained lies about God that come from the archenemy of life, the thief who has come to steal and kill and destroy. He says to us:
- “God is not strong enough.”
- “God is not compassionate enough.”
- “God is not wise or relevant or helpful enough to be of any use in this situation.”
The moment we lose sight of this unseen reality—of the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12)—we have lost our true focus. When we set our sights on only what we can see—the offender and the offense—the true enemy remains at liberty to move on to his next target.
We must ask God to give us His eyes to see through the deception, to see people the way He sees them, to love them the way that He loves them…to feel the anguish and the love (oh, the love!) of our Heavenly Father, who turned away from His own dying Son as He thought instead of that offender. Of that transgressor. Of you. Oh God…of me.
This post was initially published as Love the sinner, hate the sin-maker on October 7, 2015.