We have all seen the sandwich board street preacher yelling at passersby shouting that Jesus hates our sin and that our sin is sending us all to hell unless we repent.
I’m not sure I agree with their approach.
What about their message?
Does God hate our sin?
Believe it or not, they are right. God does hate our sin.
He just doesn’t hate US.
Their approach gives you the feeling that our sin is making God mad and disgusted with us personally.
But the truth is, he hates our sin BECAUSE he loves us so much.
In his book The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith describes those street preachers’ message as halfway there.
God does hate our sin, but only because it destroys the people he loves.
This is simple to see in the story of the woman caught in adultery recorded by John in his letter to the church.
In John 8, we enter the story as it’s unfolding. A woman is brought in front of Jesus. She has apparently just been caught in the act of adultery.
This is clearly sinful.
Can you recall some of your clearly sinful moments? Moments you’d like to keep hidden?
Can you imagine being caught in the act and dragged in front of a highly respected religious leader who is going to determine your fate?
Here she is, perhaps half-dressed, fully embarrassed, and totally ashamed of having been stolen from darkness and brought into the light.
As you may know, Jesus tells the men that they can throw rocks at her if they have never committed a sinful deed. Slowly they walk away, knowing their own histories.
Then Jesus gives her a message as she is about to leave. It’s short and to the point: “Go and leave your life of sin.” Why does he say that? Is it because he can only forgive this one failure?
Is it because he will hate her if she fails again? His grace was good for one adultery, but not for another? Nope.
That’s not it at all.
He tells her to leave her sin because look where it led her? Her sin was crushing her! Her sin was destroying her!
And he hates that because he loves her. So he says, “Go and leave your life of sin” because it’s killing you, girl!
Simple question: What sin do you need to leave? Not because God hates you for sinning in that way, but because it’s killing you, and he hates that.