Love the sinner, hate the sin


Twitter and I have a love/hate relationship. I have a wide audience of people from all walks of life, all over the world, who I can encourage in the love and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. In order to do that, I’m limited to 140 characters which means I need to try to carry a complete thought in that amount of space… I can’t trust that multiple tweets all get read in their completeness otherwise. Anyone who has followed my blog at all knows that I don’t suffer from lack of things to say… my biggest problem is keeping it short and to the point. Worst thing is, get me to talk about Jesus in person, and I’m just as gabby.

I made a tweet and was asked a good question about it. First, here is what I wrote:

There is a difference between affirming someone’s sinful choices & loving them regardless of them. Be like Jesus.

Now, I like people asking me for clarity, believe it or not. My job, as I see it, is to communicate the truth of the word of God as clearly and as accessibly as possible to as many people as possible. If something I write causes confusion, I’m missing something. Usually, it’s because there is context in my head that didn’t make it out into the tweet.

So I’m going to do my best, in very un-Peter-like fashion, to not ramble and to be to-the-point in trying to explain what this meant to me, and I do this because I need to cover a lot of ground and want to keep my readers reading, not checking out. Pray for me (I already have)… here we go.

Let’s break it down.

Affirmation, to me, means validation or confirmation. Yes, you can probably google other meanings, but this is where my mind was. I can affirm something by intent (“I hereby affirm that everything I say here is true, your honor!”). You can affirm something in a round-about manner (“yeah, I agree! What HE said!”). You can also affirm something passively, such as by accepting something you disagree with not to cause problems (a parent letting a child have a treat because the parent got tired of hearing the child screaming in a tantrum).

So what am I getting at here?

Were I to define “sin“, I would say that it is any action, meditated thought, decision or behavior that causes a person to behave in a way that is inconsistent with the Person and plan of God, or that violates His character or His laws.

This means, by definition, that there are no hierarchies of sin. No sin greater than another. The smallest white lie to the most vile murder are equal in God’s eyes, because He is holy and utterly without sin, and anything outside of His nature (which by definition is good) is therefore bad (eg: not good).

We live in a day and age of political correctness, where you’re almost societally expected to go with the flow and embrace whatever the PC challenge of the week is in the spotlight. There’s no room for calling things “sin” anymore, that’s too old fashioned. Heck, it’s all relative anyways, and your perspective is yours and mine is mine, so don’t hit me with your old school conservative religion junk…

Well ok, but those of us who are truly desiring to honor God understand that the rules He set into being are not subject to our own interpretation. We don’t get to decide what is sin and what is not sin, and neither does our government or society. Yep. It’s not my rule, it’s Gods… if you have a problem with it, take it up with Him.

“Christians” have a very bad track record with labeling sin, categorizing it, and attributing an arbitrary hierarchy of severity to it.

This is BAD, mmmk? BAD BAD BAD. God holds no hierarchy of sin. How dare we label particular sins as better or worse than others? To quote Jesus, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt 7:5)

People sin, and no matter what the sin, it is ALL sin. Your gossiping or your prideful or haughty spirit is no worse than the person who murders his grandma with a steak knife. (Coincidentally, the only sin that scripture records as saying that God HATES is pride or a prideful, haughty spirit. Yep. Not homosexuality, not premarital sex, not murder, arson… but pride. Damnable pride. It’s helpful to remember that…)

So here’s the base of what I’m saying –
Everyone single one of us sins, sins equally, and every single one of us, no matter how much we want to tell ourselves that we’re better than the next guy, is JUST AS GUILTY BEFORE GOD, and just as deserving of His right, just judgement and… we all deserve hell, when our sins are displayed against a perfect, holy, sin-less God.

But God loves us – flaws, faults, warts and all. He doesn’t love our sin, He hates it. He doesn’t condone our wrong thoughts or actions, but He works at healing the broken things and repairing the sin damage in our lives when we give Him that control as our Lord, and helps us not want to sin, and gives us more strength to resist the desire to.

And if we love Jesus and are His representatives here on earth, we have to do the same.

There is a difference between the sin and the sinner. There is a difference between the act of sin and the person sinning. Heck, Romans 7 & 8 talk a lot about that… look at the vlogs I posted last fall about that subject for more context.

And here’s the point of what I’m saying –
Our job is not to judge the relative sin of the next person. Our job is to love the person.

EVERY person was created by God with intentionality and a purpose and a plan. Every person was created to worship. They can choose to live life on their own terms, but each was created in the image of God and created FOR God, which means each has value to Him.

Drop the facade. We are not better than anyone else. Believing you are is a weak, self-justifying form of pride that God hates. It robs you of the ability to love, to serve, to humble yourself and not need to be self-justified.

My original quote –

There is a difference between affirming someone’s sinful choices & loving them regardless of them. Be like Jesus.

People are going to make lifestyle decisions that we don’t like, don’t believe in, or flat out hate or detest. Love the person. Don’t go with the politically correct crowd who agrees with the decision, or who says it’s good or morally acceptable. Don’t violate God’s rules of right and wrong, and don’t cave to social pressures that say that the bible is outdated and no longer relevant – God’s word will stand FOREVER, perfect and true.

But love the person. Hate the sin. Love the person. Hate the sin. Love the person… get it?

We can show God’s love to the individual without condoning the actions. We can make the person know that they matter to us, but yet not participate or encourage the behavior. Jesus hung out with the worst of the worst. He didn’t participate in drunken debauchery but hung out with those who did. He didn’t sell or buy sex but He hung out with those who did. He never cheated on taxes, but hung out with those who did. He never sinned, but spent the vast majority of His time with those who sinned the most frequently.

Love people, hate the sin.
Encourage them to pursue the Lord and let HIM help them correct the problems. Let the Holy Spirit bring conviction of sin and the desire to change it… that’s His job, not yours. Love the sinner. See them the way Jesus does.

Love the sinner. Love them. Them… the person. The soul who Jesus loves. Love them. It’s our highest and greatest commandment, straight from the heart of God.

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4 thoughts on “Love the sinner, hate the sin

  1. Peter Varvais! Thank the Lord you failed to deliver on your promise NOT to ramble – you might be surprised at how many of the rest of us LIKE, even LOVE, the fact that you do ramble. Anything worth saying is worth saying well, never more so than with the Word of God. Anyway, I’m in no position to hold down ‘Fort Rambler” on my own – do not desert!

    Loving everyone, separate from what they do, always honors our Father. Separating, and never accepting nor validating the sins of anyone, ALSO honors our Father. What you preach here removes one of the easy barricades we throw in the way of connecting in Christian fellowship with any and every one we cross paths with – each one of those omissions is a lost opportunity to further advance the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth by both advancing fellowship AND standing against the iniquity of mankind.

    Love this post – never abbreviate what you say!

    About your bio – no one is a nobody, or even an average guy in the GRAND scheme (God’s Plan) of things, and we are all in process – a work in progress. We are all lucky to have you to follow and to inspire us….

    • peterv says:

      My friend, very few responses have meant so much to me as yours did. It’s been a long, wearying season in the place that I’ve been in, and knowing that even one person is blessed, strengthened or encouraged in Jesus and/or in their Christian walk is amazingly encouraging to me. Thank you so much for taking the time to write!

      • Listen…it’s you who are such an amazing blessing to all of us (this much I KNOW… I’m NOT the only one!). I pray that the wearying place that you have been in is something God uses to further strengthen you in your ‘walk by faith’, and your ministry.

        Eagerly anticipating you next post! Keep doin’ what you do the way you do it!

        Yours in Christ,

        Eddie

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