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I have a question that is somewhat troubling to me. Two friends of mine were having a debate about politics and religion, and one of them said that God hates the unrighteous. Put so point blank, it really made me think, and I did some reading online, searching Christian sites to see what people have to say about it and received further conflicting messages.
I know God hates sin, but God sent out His word to everyone in the world. The unsaved reject it, but it was sent to them. So how can He have tried to save people He hated? Does He hate them? If He does hate sinners, how does that go together with Jesus’ admonitions to love thy enemy and what He says about a doctor not coming for those already healthy but rather for those who are sick? Jesus and God are one, so clearly, if God hating the sinner is true, it goes to together somehow, but I don’t understand how.
I read someone’s comment that said, “A man who steals is a thief. God hates the thief who steals”, and yet, Jesus sought out thieves to save them.
This question is very troubling to me. I know everything God does is right, but somehow it is very hard to accept the plain statement ‘God hates the unsaved’. I know the unsaved will go to hell, and I know justice is very important to God, but again, Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost are one, and there so many instances of compassion in the Bible that it’s hard to believe He just hates them, and that’s it. Or am I just having troubling believing this because I don’t want to believe it?
Not A Hater
Dear Not A Hater,
The Lord loves people but hates sin. God tells us it is appropriate to be happy when evil is destroyed because it means righteousness is prevailing (Pr 28:28), but God also says that it pains Him when the wicked perish (Ezek 18:23). Here is the problem – when a person's life becomes so intertwined with sin that the sin has become the essence of who they are, God hates that. Ps 5:5, Ps 11:5, Lev 20:23, and Pr 6:16-19 makes that clear.
Think of it this way, if you saw someone push a small child, would you be upset at the action or upset at the person? The answer is both. The action came from the person and originated from their character. All sin is that way. God doesn't inherently hate people, but when someone consistently rebels against God, hurts others, spreads lies, and harms God's work here on Earth... God's anger extends to both the sins and the people who flagrantly commit them. They have chosen to put their lives in opposition to Him, and as much as it pains Him, He must consider them enemies.
I am doing a paper on the sixth commandment for school. I have heard there is a verse that says, “God hates sin, but not the sinner.” Is that verse in the Bible, and if so, where, and if not, is there a similar verse that says something similarly? This paper is due soon, and I need the verse to complete my essay. Please help. Thanks!
Making The Grade
Dear Making The Grade,
There is no one verse that says, "God hates sin, but not the sinner." However, there are multiple verses that teach that principle. Hab 1:13 says that God is too pure to look upon evil, and Heb 1:9 talks about Jesus loving justice and hating iniquity. As far as God loving sinners, Jhn 3:16 probably will do the trick.
Thousands of years ago, in many countries, continents, islands, etc., far away from Israel, how could inhabitants hear messages like Jhn 3:16? Were they just out of luck because they didn't live in the area to hear it and died and went to hell?
Dear Logistically Implausible,
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about the Gentiles (a ‘Gentile’ is anybody that isn’t Jewish) that lived before Jesus or before Jesus' message covered the globe as it has now, but what little we do know tells us that God didn’t forsake them. When God called Abraham out from amongst his people (Gen 12:1-2), everyone that wasn’t descended from Abraham became a ‘Gentile’. The Old Testament follows the descendants of Abraham and God’s covenant with them; that is why there isn’t much said about the other nations that lived on this planet. Here is what we know:
- God praised and blessed honest Gentiles. Melchizedek is called a ‘priest of God’ (Gen 14:18), and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian (Ex 3:1) and worshipped God. We don’t know exactly what arrangement God had with these men, but we know that they were pleasing to God and not a part of the Jewish nation. Another great example of a godly Gentile was Cornelius. God blessed and heard Cornelius’ prayers (Acts 10:1-4).
- Some Gentiles were blessed by God through conversion to Judaism. Rahab and Ruth were both Gentile women that turned to God by becoming Jews. Both of these women are mentioned in the lineage of Christ (Matt 1:5).
- We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the Gentiles were under. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles had a law of conscience written by God on their hearts. This doesn’t tell us much, but it does point out that God had a system for judging the Gentiles… it was just different than the system He used for judging the Jews.
All of this just gives a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan to save those who lived far from Israel; we just don’t know exactly how it worked.
My son is dying a horrible, long lasting death of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). I have been a Christian my whole life and an active staff member in the church. My whole spiritual world has been rocked by watching my son suffer day after day with nothing in sight except a horrible death. My question is: I have been taught my whole life that God answers prayers. That is not true. God can heal. Yes, He can, but it is just a matter of whether or not He will. God doesn't like to watch His children suffer. Then why does He let us?
Dear Mad Mom,
We are so sorry for your son's suffering, and we cannot fathom the pain it has wrought for you as well. Sickness is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. One of the curses of their sin was that we all must face our own mortality – life is finite (Gen 2:17). Sickness, disease, and pain are a part of the human existence. Sadly, this is true even for our children. When God gave us freewill, He gave us the right to cause problems for ourselves and others, and if He simply removed all the consequences for our actions, He would be removing our freedoms as well.
God could have made us without the freedom to choose, but then we wouldn’t be “in His image”… we would be automatons. As a parent, you have seen how the freewill of our children can break our hearts sometimes, and it can be difficult to see your children hurt when they make choices that have painful consequences. From scraped knees to heartaches, parents watch their children get hurt when they leave the nest and strike out on their own. God has that same parental paradox (Heb 12:9-10) – the love to let us choose even when those choices have caused all sorts of problems for us. Your son is suffering because of the diseases mankind’s choices have brought upon us.
I am sick with allergies (environmental and food), bronchitis, and stomach issues that include GERD and IBS. I have also found out that I have chronic ear disease with a hole in one eardrum. I have all sorts of little things going on. My question is: is it something I have done? I want to fix it whatever it is, but I first need to know what it is that I have done. How do I find out if it is my fault?
Sick Of Being Sick
Dear Sick Of Being Sick,
You might be hurting for living unfaithfully… but that is only one of several reasons why people suffer. Here are the two other reasons why people suffer:
- Sometimes bad things simply happen because they happen. Job suffered greatly, and his children died, but it wasn’t his (or their) fault. Job hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had his kids. It all happened because Satan wanted to do evil (Job 1:6). As long as we live in this world of sin, there will be troubles. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone at fault… just time and chance wreaking havoc in a sinful world (Eccl 9:11).
- Sometimes people suffer so that God can be glorified. Jesus’ disciples asked Him why a certain man had been born blind, and Jesus answered, “So that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (Jhn 9:1-3) This man’s ailment provided an opportunity for God to show His glory. There are times that we suffer, so God can teach us and teach others through our pain (Eccl 7:2-3).
You are doing the right thing by examining your life and making sure that you are right with God. If you would like to have Bible classes or need a congregation, we can help you find a faithful one near you (our e-mail is email@example.com), but unfaithfulness isn’t the only cause of suffering.