God Hates Sin. What About the Sinner?
Does God hate sinners? I said that in a message some time ago and got some push-back from some readers and viewers online. God does say that, and perhaps a word or two of explanation could help with this concept that some find difficult. It is always a temptation to take difficult concepts in the Bible and rationalize them and make them fit our human reason. Sometimes the Bible asks us to accept two seemingly contradictory concepts and hold them in our minds at the same time. One of them is the nature of God. The Bible describes God as both a God of law and of gospel, of holy fury and infinite mercy. As an example, I refer you to the Book of Exodus, in chapter four. Moses is hiding behind the rock, and as God passes by he tells him, “This is what my name means.” He said he is a God who forgives sin, and who does not leave the guilty unpunished. Now you might think, God, make up your mind. Which of those two are you? And he’s both. When we long for comfort in God’s mercy, we must not weaken God’s wrath over sin and end up denying his word. Where the wrath of God and the mercy of God intersect is the cross of Christ. There the law and gospel come together. God pounded on his son all his anger for our sins, and his mercy comes upon us through faith. So, is God angry at sinners? Yes. By grace through faith you and I receive his mercy. Yet, we all still have a sinner inside of us and that sinner still needs to tremble at the words of God’s anger. We as Christians must proclaim law and gospel, the wrath of God and the mercy of God, so that we tremble appropriately. But we also need the wrath of God to drive us back to the cross of Christ, where we receive mercy and forgiveness. Hope this helps.