Hate the Sin&Love the Sinner?
Q. I keep hearing Christians say that we should accept all lifestyles and people in our lives including murderers and drug addicts. But, aren't we supposed to "hate the sin and just love the sinner?"
An Urban Myth
Surprisingly, nowhere in the bible does it say to "hate the sin and love the sinner." This is actually a myth - an "urban myth." In fact, it's a lie and we must confront it vigorously.
Acceptance is not Love
But first, I think you have confused "acceptance" with "love." Contrary to what we hear, Jesus was not an "accepting" person. While he forgave people their sins, he never ignored or accepted their lifestyle. Had he accepted sinners as they were, this would have taken away from the very reason he came - to take away the sins of the world. The message of the cross would have been nullified.
The saying to "hate the sin and love the sinner" is one of those "urban myths" which took hold and became equal to the status of Scripture. Because it isn't true we must teach believers to instantly confront this false teaching. How?
Jesus told people that "Your sins are forgiven you," "Go and sin no more." He warned sinners that they would go to hell and suffer God's eternal wrath because of their sins if they did not repent.
Therefore, repentance should be the focus - not accepting everyone no matter what they do.
A Place where Worm doesn't Die&Fire not Quenched
We need to remind ourselves that Jesus used graphic language concerning hell. For example, we find in Luke 13:28 Jesus saying,
"In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out."
The prophet Isaiah 66:24 warns "their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched" in hell.
This passage is also quoted in Mark 9:44, 46, and 48. That doesn't sound very accepting or loving to me. Does it to you?
The concept of "accepting sin" comes from the world. Especially in this time of cultural diversity we are told we must accept all religions, cultures and behaviors in a global community.
Of course that includes pressure to accept gay church leaders, aggressive women preachers, and the murderous tenets of false religions. To condemn someone for his sins and to preach that he needs salvation through Jesus Christ's atonement is politically incorrect in today's society.
But, don't fall for it.
It is important that we remain "politically incorrect" because there is no salvation from sin, and no eternal life offered by any other religion or great teacher.
Think of it. Mohammed is dead. Buddha is dead. All great teachers are still in their graves. …"for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Our Savior is the only one alive today who offers hope for eternal life and forgiveness of sins.
The true, correct message is this:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NASB).
That is the true biblical message.
MacArthur, John. Various sermons available from: Grace to You ministries. www.gty.org.