Does God hate or love sinners? How about homosexuals? Or military people who risked or gave their lives for our liberty? Is Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church right? Does God hate America?
Some say God loves everybody. Others say the wrath of God burns against the ungodly day and night, that in sin, we stand on a crumbling precipice overhanging the lake of fire awaiting our eternal demise.
Are you on a crumbling precipice or are you safe in the hands of an infinitely loving Father?
Most of us have opinions. Probably most of us feel we’re going to heaven or else we’re just going to drop into a hole and rot away when we die. Some of us believe we will be spirits wandering the earth perhaps as ghosts or angels until we are at peace with going to our eternal destiny.
Visiting a Grave of a Loved One
Did you ever visit a grave of loved one–a parent, or perhaps a sibling, child, relative or friend? We may bring flowers and speak as though they hear us. Did you wonder where they were or whether you will ever see them again?
In our times of darkness we may dread the thought of going to hell if they are in heaven, or we may dread going to heaven if they are in hell. We may feel guilty as though we neglected their eternal destiny in ultimate betrayal. We may feel it will never be possible or desirable to imagine loved ones or friends in hell suffering hate and wrath from God bringing eternal, infinite pain.
Could a loving God ever send someone to hell?
We ask that, but often we contradict ourselves. We assume Hitler must go to hell after killing six million Jews and 5 million others. Perhaps the devil and his angels must go there, too. And terrorists and child molesters and rapists and tormentors of animals–anyone we hate.
Wouldn’t heaven be poisoned by Satan’s presence? Would Henry VIII go to heaven after divorcing and beheading his own wives? Or after killing the Catholic leaders who wanted to stop him? Vlad III impaled thousands on spikes lengthwise. Nero crucified countless men, women, and children and torching them up to light the roads. How about Stalin? Pol Pot? Charles Manson? Jack the Ripper? Should they go to heaven?
We often hate child molesters, terrorists, tyrannical leaders, and assume blatant Satan worshipers must perish into hell as well. We cannot imagine someone so corrupt as to get rich robbing people of their life savings and going to the grave unpunished only to enjoy riches in heaven while their victims perish in hell bitter and unforgiving.
So, who does God hate and who does He love?
Does God hate the sinner? We’re all sinners, or we were at one time. The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of heaven. Was it by accident? Not me. I sinned by choice. I was selfish. So, I cannot say the devil will perish because he was a sinner and I wasn’t. How about you? Have you ever sinned intentionally? If God were to speak honestly about you, would He say you’re a sinner or a saint?
Jesus has an interesting way of dealing with sinners, and it probably is not what you or I would expect, but it is much wiser.
Was He consistent and fair or did He play favorites? Let’s see.
In John 8, men caught a woman in adultery and brought her to Jesus. The law said to stone her. They asked Jesus what to do. If Jesus said, “Do as the scriptures say”, she could die a painful death and the men could claim Jesus told them to do so. If Jesus said not to stone her, he would oppose the law.
What Did Jesus Do?
What was Jesus’ response? He drew in the dirt and delayed a little. He let them stew. Then He spoke. “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Then he resumed drawing and waited as they left one by one. He asked the woman, “Who condemns you?” She answered, “Nobody”. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
How many people today say, “He that is without sin cast the first stone” when someone speaks out against sin? Was Jesus snapping to the defense of sin? Did Jesus love sin so much as to defend it? Or was his love for the sinner? If Jesus was defending sin, then why did Jesus say, “Go and sin no more?” Doesn’t it sound like Jesus was rebuking or judging her? Yet didn’t He say, “Neither do I condemn you”?
When Jesus spoke against judging, He spoke against hypocrisy, cowardice, and insincerity where people would defend their own sin while wanting to harm others because of their sin. If they were truly opposed to sin, they would not live in sin. If their justification for hating sin was that it was disrespectful toward God and unjust, then they would stop living in sin themselves. These men did not merely want to speak out against adultery–they wanted to stone this woman to death. They hated her. And I wonder how many people wondered where her partner was. How many people commit adultery alone?
What’s wacky is that people today use this passage in scripture to rationalize sin. They run on and on about how we should never judge when someone rebukes in love, but nothing could be more hypocritical or insincere. In the very next verse, Jesus asks the woman who condemns her. She answered, “Nobody.” People remember that Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you”, but they forget the next verse. Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”
Why would Jesus say Go and Sin No More? Did Jesus hate her when He said, “Sin no more”?
Everybody makes mistakes. Right?
Ah. Before you get too comfortable with that, what would you say if I said sin is not a mistake?
Would you think I was absolutely nuts? Of course sin is a mistake. It isn’t a good thing, is it? We all fail sometimes. Nobody succeeds all the time. Who knows everything? Are you all-powerful? I’m not. Nobody can live the rest of their lives never once making a mistake. Right?
Yeah, but could you, say, go the rest of your life without committing adultery? Could you go the rest of your life never getting drunk? Must you do every sin sometimes? If you must sin a thousand times a day without knowing it, must you also rape children every day without knowing it? Must you commit acts of terrorism blowing up buildings every day without knowing it? Of course not. Right? Those things are serious sins. They are intentional. They are not mere mistakes. You don’t say, “Whoops, I blew up the Empire State Building”. Those are serious sins.
What if no sin were an accident? And what if God were to tell us on judgment day that every sin is preventable, that every sin is serious, that every sin is a decision to turn against Jesus as Lord and follow the demands of one’s flesh instead? Now, do you believe it is impossible to go without sin?
Ask yourself this: Who is more worthy of faithfulness–your spouse or God? Do you commit adultery a thousand times a day? Would your husband or your wife tolerate it, say once per day? Per week? Month? Year?
How many times should we be unfaithful to Christ per year?
How Does Jesus Love the Sinner?
If we want to know how we are to show love to a sinner, Luke 18:18-23 shows how Jesus did it.
Luke 18:18-23 (with the context of vss. 24-30 also)
 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good -- except God alone.
 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"
 "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
 Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"
 Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
 Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"
 "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God  will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."
Jesus Lord and Love
Jesus loved the man. He did not march with signs saying, “God hates rich greedy young rulers”. However, Jesus worked this young man like a lawyer. In fact, Jesus taught this young man Socratically asking questions. “Do you know the commandments?”
Jesus named some safe commandments he knew the man was OK with. And the man perked up and said happily, “I have done these since birth.” Those were the easy ones.
We all have easy commandments. We’re proud we don’t rob banks like the bank robber. And we don’t molest children like child molesters. Nor do we murder people or swindle people or beat people up violently or read Playboys. We don’t get drunk or take drugs or sleep around. We’re among the most trustworthy, honest, loving, forgiving, moral, ethical, upright people we know. By our standards.
But, Jesus puts His finger on a sin we haven’t given up and says, “There–that is the one I want you to give up.” That sin owns us. We fight to defend it even if we have to fight God to do it. If someone touches it, we cry, “Judge not, judge not–the Bible commands us to judge not.” Nobody has cursed us or called for our demise. But, the minute someone identifies a moral standard or a sin, we fight to defend our sin. Or we walk away and ostracize that person. Perhaps they have touched the sin that is Lord over our lives, the sin we worship, the sin that has the place in our lives that only rightfully belongs to Christ.
Does God love us? Yes. In fact He loves us enough to die for us, and enough to tell us the truth we need but don’t want to hear.
But, will we surrender to Him? Or will we hate God and love sin?