Does God Love the Sinner and Hate Only His Sin?

by John Gerstner | November 5, 2007

Psalm 139:22, “I hate them with a perfect hatred.

       God has no complacent love for the sinner at all. He has a perfect hatred of him, “I hate them with a perfect hatred.” (Psalm 139:22)

Why does God do so much good for those He perfectly hates and as soon as they die impenitent send them immediately to hell and never in all eternity does them one solitary favor more? It is to show His willingness to forgive the sinner if only he will repent. It shows the sincerity of God’s willingness to pardon the greatest sinner that, even while He hates him with a perfect hatred, He showers him with constant daily blessings.

As I mentioned in Chapter 1, there is no “problem of pain.” The only problem is the “problem of pleasure.” Dreadful as it is, it is not surprising that God sends sinners to hell. The problem is why He does not do it sooner. Why does God let a hell-deserving sinner live a minute and then let him prosper like the green bay tree (Psalms 37:35), as well? It is obvious that God can destroy the ungrateful. Why doesn’t He? That is the problem.

Yes, the sinner suffers, too. But so little. It is a gentle reminder: though the sinner receives many divine favors, that does not mean that God is pleased with him. It is in spite of the fact that God hates him with a perfect hatred.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

Our text also shows that the one reason a sinner is permitted to be born into and enjoy this world rather than wake up as an infant in hell is that God, with His love of benevolence, is determined to give the sinner a “chance,” an opportunity to repent. Alas, most sinners use it as a chance to sin! They make God’s blessed love of benevolence into a curse.

In this world the sinner enjoys nothing but the benevolent love of God. Every experience of pain as well as pleasure is from God’s love — of benevolence. Even pain is from love because it tends to wake the sinner to his danger. God indeed loves the sinner, whom He hates with a perfect hatred, with a perfect love of benevolence.

The sinner, as I said, makes every divine blessing into a curse including God’s love of benevolence. This he does by construing a love of benevolence as a love of complacency.

Construing God’s love of benevolence as a love of complacency is fatal. Instead of the divine forbearance leading to repentance, it is used as an excuse for non-repentance. Thus the sinner is not saved but damned by God’s love of benevolence.

God “loves” the sinner benevolently and hates the sinner displacently. If the sinner dies impenitent, God removes His love of benevolence and pours out the full wrath of his displacent love.

As far as “hatred of sins” is concerned, sins do not exist apart from the sinner. God does hate sinning, killing, stealing, lying, lusting, etc., but this alludes to the perpetrator of these crimes.

God never hates the redeemed even when they sin. Is He an unfair respecter of persons? No! (Act. 10:34) God hates the unredeemed sinner but loves the redeemed even when they sin for a good and just reason. God loves the redeemed even when they sin because His Son, in whom God is always well-pleased, ever lives to make intercession for them. (Rom.8:27, 34) Christ died to atone for the guilt of His people’s sins. When they sin, these are atoned-for sins. They are sins with their guilt removed. In one sense, they are not sins at all. God does not hate His people when they sin because they are in His Son, Christ Jesus. And they are made acceptable in His Son. He “has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

Divine nepotism? No, His Son died for these people and paid the price for their sins past, present, and future. They are cancelled before they are committed. That is truth, not fiction. Righteousness, not nepotistic favoritism. In fact, it is not their original relationship to Christ which makes their sins guiltless, but Christ’s making satisfaction for their sins that created the relationship as children adopted into the family of God.

God, in hot displeasure, chastens His people when they sin (Psalms 6: 1; 38:1). It is not hatred but complacent love in Christ Jesus. “Whom the Lord loves He chastens.” (Hebrews 12:6,7) God loves His people even when He afflicts them and hates the impenitent even when He befriends them.

Why the chastening when there is love? God blessed the wicked when there was holy hatred. Now He chastens His people when there is holy love. This is because true moral behavior must be perfected. No sin can be tolerated in those for whom Christ died. He died to purchase a “peculiar people zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14) Being redeemed, so far from tolerating their sinning, precludes it. Anyone who persists in sinning proves thereby that he is not a child of God. God punishes His own especially because they are His children. “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth: Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2)

“Upright” man was promised and warned. A holy, just, and perfect God would promise and warn. Eternal life — if obedient. Instant death — the moment of disobedience. (Genesis 3:5; Ecclesiastes 7:29)

When man sinned, he died spiritually and was rejected from communion with God his maker and friend. (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12ff) The wrath of God was upon him; labor was his lot; suffering in childbirth; alienation and death, as threatened. God is holy; of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. (Habakkuk 1:13)

Yet mortal man “lived” on (though to live in pleasure is death, 1 Tim. 5:6), and so did promise. When the angels sinned they perished without delay, without promise, without hope.

Man’s fate was better and worse than the fallen angels’ lot. It was a day of possible salvation but also of possible greater damnation, greater damnation for sinning away the day of possible salvation. God in His wrath; God in His mercy; at the same time.

This was a terrible but holy wrath. God was using His omnipotent power but according to His perfect justice. Man was affected but he deserved it. It was no more, no less, than he deserved. God is no more powerful than holy; no more holy than powerful.

As man continued to sin, God continued to increase His fury. His wrath is in no hurry. The record is kept, all accounts receivable. Every idle word will be brought into judgment (Matthew 12:36). The cup of iniquity must be filled. Then wrath to the uttermost. (1 Thessalonians 2:16) God’s glory shines in the perfection of His work.

But — God decreed the sin, (Proverbs 16:4). Yes, for good and for glory. Man did it for evil and for shame.

A little sin and infinite wrath? A little sin against an infinite God is infinite. Wrath is in perfect proportion to the guilt. But even if the punishment were finite it would go in “infinitely,” unendingly, because the sinner continues to sin in resenting it.

All glory to God for His holy anger. (John 17:3; Romans 9:17f)

by John H. Gerstner (1914-1996)


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Comment by webservant of

I agree with the preceding writing by John Gerstner. It is Biblical. Albeit, I just want to make clear that it was God's unconditional love which sent Jesus into the world to die for all men.

A heretic once lived named John Calvin (1509-1564). His teachings became known as Calvinism. I can't believe how many people so foolishly adopt this unsaved man's doctrines today, hundreds of years later. I know Calvin is unsaved for various reasons, mainly because of Calvin's damnable doctrine on the Perseverance of the Saints (a false teaching that says a believer must continue, persevere, in faith and obedience to God to be saved). The Salvation Army teaches this lie (point 9 in their official dogma).

“We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.”

SOURCE: 1878 Foundation Deed Of The Salvation Army

Salvation is NOT a club that you can be kicked out of if you don't pay your membership dues! Followers of the Salvation Army's false gospel are not saved. Anyone who believes that they must do anything to keep their salvation never had it to begin with! This is the hellish doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. William and Catherine Booth (founders of the Salvation Army) were staunch Calvinists. This is the danger of loyalty to manmade organizations. I am loyal to God's Word and only God's Word. The Bible is the genuine Christian's only Final Authority. Jesus commanded us in John 5:39 to... SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!

Calvinism is a lie of the Devil (a false doctrine which teaches that Jesus only died for those who would one day be saved, that is, believers). The Bible teaches unmistakably in John 3:16 that God loves the whole world and sent His son to die for all humanity. Jesus died for all men, even those who go to Hell. Proof of this is found in 2nd Peter 2:1, “ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Notice that the Bible says concerning these false prophets that Jesus “bought them.” Jesus bought all sinners with His own literal, shed, precious, blood (1st Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5 - King James Bible).

It is true that God's wrath abideth upon Christ-rejecting sinners (John 3:36; Psalm 7:11); but oh how He loves them and wants all men to come to repentance (2nd Peter 3:9).


Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) Refutes Lordship Salvation

"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God,
and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

—2nd Thessalonians 1:8

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