I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. (Lev 11:45)
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.(Dt 32:4)
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 Jn 4:16)
So however love and justice might sometimes appear to be at odds with one another, with God they co-exist in perfect harmony.
The same can be said for His regard for sinners. On one hand, He loves sinners:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 Jn 4:10)
…but because He’s Perfectly Just, He also hates sinners:
The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. (Ps 11:5)
This is important to recognize. We often hear how God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. The Lord does hate, “those who love violence” and on Judgment Day, it will be sinners that are cast into hell and not sin (Rev 20:15).
Some read that and recoil. That doesn’t sound like the merciful God that we all know to be in place. After all, it was His mercy that prompted the cross and the empty tomb and the subsequent “good news” that has been preached for the last two thousand years.
Yes, that is true and it’s a good thing because otherwise there isn’t any hope for anybody. David acknowledges that in Psalm 143:2. We’re all lost apart from God’s grace.
But that grace needs to be received and in order for it to be received it needs to be valued. And grace has no value if the person seeking it believes themselves to be tolerable in the sight of God apart from a humble and a penitent disposition. Maintaining the false notion that God loves those who adore the very thing that he hates is nonsensical.
Here’s the bottom line: It’s not so much that God hates sinners as much as He hates those who love sin. To try and distinguish the behavior from the person exhibiting the behavior is an accurate approach, but only to a certain point. It’s only the one who is truly repentant that receives God’s grace. A prideful and / or an indifferent heart cannot hide behind a token acknowledgment of God.
Thankfully, we’re not the ones who are tasked with identifying those who are reverent as opposed to those who are not. But God can and He does (Gal 6:7; Heb 9:27). Hence the fallacy represented by the phrase, “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” The sinner who mourns his wrongdoing can expect the grace of God (Heb 4:14-16), but the sinner who revels in his rebellion should not expect anything other than the wrath of God (Matt 7:21-23).
There you have it!