Chookwatcher is always looking for ways to be contentious.

Many Christians use the phrase, ‘God loves the sinner but hates the sin’, but chookwatcher turns to the Reformed theology of  CARM for a contrary response.

“The sobering fact is that God is so holy and righteous that He hates the sinner (Psalm 5:5; Lev. 20:23; Prov. 6:16-19; Hos. 9:15). Some say that we should say that God only hates the sin but loves the sinner. But, the above scriptures speak contrary to that. But it is also true that He is love (1 John 4:8). It is better to accept the love of God found in Jesus than to reject it and suffer His wrath.”

That’s very interesting. CARM digs out four Old Testament scriptures in an attempt to reject a New Testament principle based on the cross. Surely it’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, so how is this goodness presented?

Whilst it’s true that God rejected both the sinner and the sin under the Old Covenant, the very point of the cross was to forgive the sinner and remove the sin, making the way for the sinner to be redeemed.

The love of God revealed in Christ

Indeed, God is love, and that love was revealed in the sacrificial work of the cross of Christ.

Whilst, under the Old Testament, the law could never save a person, now, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s grace opens the way for the sinner to repent and be cleansed of all sin.

But when was the person’s sin removed? Clearly it was at the cross, for Jesus died once and for all. He died one time for always, and one death for all deaths that were owed by sinners.

Does this mean, then, that the Universalist ideal of salvation is true. No. Because the sinner still has to receive the salvation offered by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-9 God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

When we were yet dead in trespasses God made us alive in Christ – because of the great love with which He loved us.

God loves the whole world of sinners

So, then, indeed, God loves the sinner. When we were yet in our trespasses, or sin, He loved us so much that He gave His Son for us so that we could be saved.

John 3:16 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

When did God love the world? When we ceased being sinners, or whilst we were still sinners? Well, He loved us when we were yet sinners. Of course, He hates the sin, but, according to New Testament scripture, He loves the sinner enough to save them.

You can’t say that God hates the sinner whilst he or she is a sinner, but He only loves them once they have been saved. That doesn’t meet the requirement of scripture at all. It is crucial to His forgiveness that the love was present long before we were saved. We were saved because of His love. That love was displayed at the cross.

In fact, He does not impute our trespasses against us because of the work of the cross and resurrection.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. When? At the cross. He was not imputing our trespasses against us. Whilst we were yet sinners, He died. In fact, He died before were even born, before we had sinned, knowing we would sin, and yet paying the price for our sin. The forgiveness was locked in at the cross. He was raised for our redemption. Such is His great love towards us.

Love comes first

This is the only way reconciliation can work. God made the move. He approached us with forgiveness. Our response is to accept it, so we do still need to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

Romans 10:8-10 “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The confession we make with our mouth is based on what we believe in our heart as we profess Jesus as Lord. Whilst Jesus has already paid the price of our sin once and for all over 2,000 years ago at the cross, the onus is still on us to receive that offer of salvation through our confession that He is Lord.

We come to this place through the preached gospel. When we hear the good news that God has forgiven us and paid the price of our sin through the cross, because He loves us, faith rises in our hearts and we are empowered to believe in the work of the cross and confess Jesus as Lord.

So it has to be true that the love is present before we are saved – whilst we are yet sinners.

Therefore, God does love the sinner, even though He hates the sin.