God Hates Sinners?
I have really been wrestling with the concept of God hating sinners. I have been studying and trying to figure it out but am coming up short. It was quite funny when my wife noticed that I was deep in study and asked, What are you studying? and I promptly replied, Hate. I have checked the concordance to find that God hates wickedness (Heb. 1:9 and Ps 45:7). I have found that the Hebrew word "sane" #8130 does mean to hate, be an enemy to, odious. However, in the New Testament, the Greek word for hate is "miseo" #4304 that is not as strong but still says to detest, but then it says to love less. It sounds like the word means it is a preference. For example, I loved the unregenerate less than I loved the elect. What does not make sense is that if God did love everyone then no one would go to Hell. I am not sure either way. I guess the reason why I am interested in solving this issue would be that it affects how we witness. If God does hate sinners, then I don't want to tell the person that God loves them first. Would you mind answering this question? Thank you.
What an excellent question.
To properly answer your question I think we should address the subject of what we mean when we say that God loves. Is God capable of loving in more than one way? For example, does God love vegetation differently than He does human beings? I believe that God does, in fact, have different kinds of loves. As a human being, I may love my parents, but I love my best friend in a different way. In a similar way, I love my wife differently than I love my parents or my best friend.
God also loves in different ways. He has a special love for His elect people which pertains to salvation. He has another kind of love which He gives to all men.
God's special love, that is reserved for the elect, is seen in passages like Ephesians 1:3-14. God's love that is given to all men (elect and reprobate) can be seen in Matthew 5:44-45, whereby He gives undeserved blessings to all.
The question then becomes, "Even though God has a general love for reprobate (non-elect) sinners, does He also have a hatred towards them?" I believe the answer is yes. With regards to their position before God, the Scriptures are very plain that though the Lord bestows many undeserved mercies upon them, He is angry with them and hates them because they are rebel sinners. Notice Romans 9:10-18.
With regards to our Christian witness, can we honestly tell folks that do not profess faith in Jesus Christ that God loves them? I have to ask: what is meant when we say that God loves someone? Are we referring to God's special love that is reserved for the elect? Or are we referring to God's general blessings bestowed on all of mankind? If the former, then I believe it would be innapropriate because we do not know if God has decided to save a particular individual.
Personally, when preaching the gospel of our Lord, I emphasize that Christ came to die for all those who would believe in Him. It is this group of underserving sinners that God loves and has decided to deliver from their sins. This is why salvation, at its core, is completely of the Lord.
I hope this answers all of your questions. Please let me know if you want to talk on this further, or if you have any more questions.
In the saving faith,