Question:

Regarding the love of God for man: I believe that God can separate the MAN fromthe SIN. Therefore, God can love the man, but hate the sin. Do you agree with this? Are there scriptures that indicate this?

Where Jesus tells us to LOVE OUR ENEMIES in Matt 5, I believe the only way we can love our enemy is to (once again) separate the action from the person. We can hate the action (sin), but at the same time love the person (his soul).

What does the Bible teach regarding this? Thank you very much!


Answer:

The problem is that the assertion doesn't accurately match what God has said in various places. I think the core of the problem is that the view of love being expressed is one of emotion, but God sees love differently.

I'm sure you are familiar with Jesus' statement, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Notice how Jesus moves from the idea of service to love and back to service. Love and service are closely tied. We love God when we serve God by our obedience. "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (I John 2:5).

The love for brethren is the same. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:16-18). We cannot claim a love without serving our fellow man. While people can claim love, true biblical love is what is done.

That is John's point about God's love for us. "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:9-10). God loved us. How do we know? God served us by sending His Son to die for our sins. This isn't an emotional response, but an action chosen. One can choose to serve another even when emotions might push you away. Such is what God did for us. "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

A quandary is created when we try separating a person from the actions he chooses to commit. The denominational world shows this when trying to say they want to take a stand against a sin, such as homosexuality, but at the same time accept people caught up in that sin because they "love" them.

God demonstrated love to His children caught in the snare of sin, but does that translate to His loving people who wallow in sin?

"The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man" (Psalm 5:5-6).

"The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright" (Psalms 11:5-7).

There is a distinction between the person trapped in sin through weakness and the person who embraces sin and will not let it go. God shows love to the former while hating the latter. When people love sin more than they love God, God can lose His love for them. Such is what happened to Israel:

"Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, so Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer." Give them, O LORD - What will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts! "All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious. Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up; they shall bear no fruit. Yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb." My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations" (Hosea 9:13-17).

And when we are faced with such evil, it is perfectly correct to hate those who have given their lives over to evil. "Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies" (Psalm 139:21-22).

But even when faced with our worse enemy, the way we treat them is with love. We serve our enemies because that is the only way to reach their hearts. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45). We give service equally. "Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:20-21).

God treats all of mankind equally. Christ dies for all men. But all men will not be saved because all will not accept God's love. When we die, we will be judged by what we do. "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds"" (Romans 2:5-6). How is that just if a person's deeds are separate from the person? Yet if we understand that a person's deeds are a reflection of who that person is, then we realize that God's judgment is very just.

Thank you so very much for your reply (with an abundance of Scripture)! I had never looked at it that way, but you are exactly correct (based on what the Bible says)! Again, thank you so very much!