Is it possible to “hate the sin and not the sinner”?
In the Gospel of John, chapter 8, the writer is telling about a person that was caught in adultery. The religious leaders were determined to stone the woman in keeping with their interpretation of the law. They bought the woman before Jesus to make a point about the woman’s sin and their responsibility regarding this sin.
Here is Jesus’ response:
“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:6b-7(NIV)
Well, the religious leaders began to leave until there was no one left except Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. The leaders had sin in their lives and were unable to cast judgment on the woman. The only person able to condemn the woman, had compassion on her but condemned the action when he said: “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11(NIV)
The ability to condemn or forgive cannot be done in our own strength because we have a sinful nature. To condemn or forgive, we must rely on the Holy Spirit. Our ability to forgive another person requires the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe that is why Jesus told his followers to go into all the world, but they were not to go anyplace until they had received the Holy Spirit.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8(NIV)
In the each of the Gospels we are told not to worry but rely on the Holy Spirit.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:16-20 (NIV)
“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:8-11(NIV)
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:11-12 (NIV)
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27 (NIV)
Jesus also tells us that we will be persecuted for our faith, but even in that persecution, the Holy Spirit will still tell us what to say. He says in Luke 8:14, that we are to decide before hand if we are going to try to defend ourselves in our own strength or if we are going to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, our adversaries will not be able to resist or contradict us.
“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. Luke 21:12-19 (NIV)
Why does God give us the words and wisdom we need to forgive others? God’s purpose for sending Jesus to earth was to show the love of the Father by providing forgiveness for our sins. When we are able to forgive others, we are being a witness of what Jesus has done for mankind.
Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to love people just as Christ loved people. We will also be able to forgive people, as Christ forgave people. Did Christ stop loving you because you sinned? Then why should you stop loving another person because they have sinned?
Acts 1:8 tells us that when we receive the power of the Holy spirit, we will be a witness of what Jesus has done for us.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8(NIV)
The real questions is: “Do you what to be a witness of what God has done through His son Jesus, or what you have done in your own strength?” If you rely on the Holy Spirit to help you forgive the actions of sinners, He will also give you the power to love them.
NOTE: All scriptures quoted in the blog were taken from http://www.biblegateway.com November 1, 2013.