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I don't trust myself to 'hate the sin but love the sinner'

A phrase that is sometimes used in Christian circles is 'hate the sin but love the sinner'.  It is often used in areas where there are disagreements between Christians and those around them about what is sinful

The trouble I have with 'hate the sin but love the sinner' is actually a trouble with me.  I know I am much more likely to hate someone else's sin that I have no struggle avoiding, and to accommodate or even embrace a different sin in my own life.  In short I am unlikely to hate all sins equally, especially my own.

When I look through the New Testament, there are very few references to hating of sin.  The first is in Romans 12:9 -  'Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good'.  I think this passage is clearly addressing evil within us not out there in other people.  It is also in the context of letting go of evil and positively embracing good.

The other is in Revelation 2:6 where in the letter to the church in Ephesus after being rebuked for losing their first love, they are commended in this way: 'But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitians, which I also hate'.  There are only two references to the Nicolations in the entire bible, both in Revelation.  This verse refers to their practices and 2:15 refers to their teachings.  No one is sure what these practices and teachings actually were but it appears it wasn't just a moral issue, it also involved teaching.  At the very least I think we should be cautious in extrapolating this 'hate' to contemporary issues but if we do, we had better make sure we don't lose our first love for God or others in the process.

So in summary,  I think I need to focus on applying Romans 12:9 in my own life.   I need to do this in a way that is consistent, comprehensive and leads to greater Christlikeness in myself.  Maybe then it might be safe for me to venture beyond that, but it would need to be with great care and humility.


David Wanstall, 01/07/2014