My friend believes that God hates us. He argues that God hates sin, and we are sinful; therefore, God hates us to the core of our being. I pointed out John 3:16 to him, but he said the context means something other than “God is love.” Does God actually hate us?
James F. Pope
We find the answer to your question by examining the two major teachings of the Bible: the law and the gospel.
Hatred of sinners
Chances are, you have heard people comment that “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” No doubt, people who make that statement have good intentions. They likely desire to keep a balance between God’s law and gospel.
Rather than striking a balance though, that expression waters down the message of the law. The uncomfortable and horrific truth of God’s law is that God hates sin and sinners. The Bible says of God: “You hate all who do wrong” (Psalm 5:5). According to his law, God does not separate sin from the sinner. With his law, God thunders his anger at people who fall short of the perfection he demands (Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48).
Love of sinners
While the law speaks of God’s hatred of sinners, the gospel presents an entirely different message: God loves sinners. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). His love is undeserved; it cannot be earned. As a free gift to sinners, he invites us to trust all that he did to overcome sin, death, and eternal punishment for our sins. The message of the gospel details how God loved sinners with actions and not mere words. Jesus came to live (1 Peter 2:22) and die (Romans 5:6,8) in place of sinners.
The content of the law and the gospel is not contradictory. These two central teachings of the Bible reveal different information about God. One teaching expresses God’s justice and his hatred for sin and sinners; the other teaching brings to light God’s gracious and genuine love for sinners.
We see the intersection of those two doctrines at the cross of Calvary. There, God punished Jesus in the place of all sinners, sparing them the punishment they deserved (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 4:10).
People of grace
So, what do these two different messages of Scripture mean for Christians? Does God hate them or love them? Thankfully, the Bible does not leave Christians in suspense. In his inspired letter to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul served as God’s spokesperson when he pointed to “this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:2). Christians are people of grace; they trust God’s grace in Jesus. Each day, we bask in the sunshine of his grace. We face each morning with fresh confidence that we are the recipients of God’s grace and mercy (Lamentations 3:22,23). We close our eyes in sleep, knowing that we are safe and secure through God’s grace (Psalm 4:8).
God’s gospel appropriately dominates our lives as Christians, but does that mean there is no place for God’s law in our lives? Certainly not. With the context of your question in mind, our rebellious sinful nature still needs to hear the harsh message of God’s law. The law’s pronouncement of God’s hatred of sin and sinners serves as a warning for Christians not to reject salvation by impenitence and unbelief.
As people of grace, Christians live with the knowledge that their natural sinfulness and actual sins deserved God’s punishment, but God has completely forgiven their sins and now views them as his dearly loved children (1 John 3:1).
Author: James F. Pope
Volume 106, Number 12
Issue: December 2019
- Q&A: Why is Pontius Pilate immortalized in our creeds?
- Q&A: How does remembering my baptism help with the guilt I carry?
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?