A few months back, several wrote about the Christian cliché, “Love the sinner: hate the sin.” Many argued that it was impossible since people rarely succeed in separating the sinner from their sin in their thinking. To an extent, they have a point.
However, sin is something to hate. In fact, the Psalms use the word “hate” to describe God’s feeling about sinners.
“The boastful cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all evildoers.” (Psalm 5:5, HCSB)
“The Lord examines the righteous and the wicked. He hates the lover of violence.” (Psalm 11:5, HCSB)
Further, several Psalms describe in positive terms a hatred of sin and those who commit sin.
“I hate a crowd of evildoers, and I do not sit with the wicked.” (Psalm 26:5, HCSB)
“I hate those who are devoted to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:6, HCSB)
“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy more than your companions.” (Psalm 45:7, HCSB)
“Lord, don’t I hate those who hate You, and detest those who rebel against You? I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies.” (Psalm 139:21–22, HCSB)
Even taking the Psalms’ language figuratively, we must not have a casual view of sin. We are to despise sin. The New Testament points those who follow Christ their Savior toward hating sin in themselves. The New Testament uses the language of putting sin, often referred to as the flesh, to death.
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24, HCSB)
“For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:6–13, HCSB)
So John Owen’s warning to, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” is stated well. Sin is something that I should hate, and I should begin with the sin in me.