Is 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' biblical?

"Love the sinner, hate the sin," while a common saying among Christians, is not a phrase found in the Bible. However, the concept is biblical. Jude 1:22–23 says, "And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." These verses tell us to extend mercy and compassion for people, and hate for the sin.

God can perfectly hate sin and sinners in all holiness while also perfectly loving sinners and desiring they repent and receive forgiveness (Psalm 5; 11; Malachi 1:3; Revelation 2:6; 2 Peter 3:9). As human beings, we cannot love perfectly nor hate perfectly (without malice). So we need the reminder to love the sinner yet hate the sinful action. We are called to love others and also "to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is one way to do this.

Christians are called to follow God's character of love. "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:8–10). Notice that God loved us before we loved Him. We should follow that example with those around us.

We can love those around us (all sinners) through respect (1 Peter 2:17), praying for them (1 Timothy 2:1), and telling them about Jesus, regardless of their apparent or hidden sin.

We know sin leads to death (James 1:15; Romans 6:23) and that we should speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). It is not wrong to prayerfully point out the sin in people's lives, as long as we can do so with love and respect for the person. In fact, it is unloving to allow people to remain stuck in their sin. Most importantly, we need to tell people about Jesus.

We love people by treating them with dignity and respect as well as by caring enough about them to share the truth of Christ. We hate sin by not condoning or excusing it. In both our love for the sinner and our hate for the sin, we must be careful to act in a way that honors God, letting our reasonableness be known (Philippians 4:5) and speaking with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).


Related Truth:

Is the statement 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' biblical?

Why is the Golden Rule so important?

Do not judge - Is that biblical? What does the Bible mean when it says we are not to judge others?

What can I do to come to hate my own sin?

How does salvation involve both justice and mercy?


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