March 11: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
In the second verse of How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, our focus turns to Jesus: Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon his shoulders.
Have you ever heard the phrase, God hates the sin but loves the sinner?
Technically this is true. God does hate sin, and he loves us. And it is clear throughout Scripture that we are all sinners (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1-3, Romans 3:10). In Romans 3:23, we are told that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And 1 John 1:8 declares that “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Jesus came to call sinners to himself (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32). As we saw in our “Worship Song of the Month” devotional last week, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
But notice that Romans 5:8 presumes that we are no longer sinners (“while we were still sinners”). When Jesus died on the cross, not only did he take our sin and receive the punishment for it, he also gave us his righteousness. His perfect obedience extends to us—so that we are now considered holy in God’s eyes. Jesus’s righteousness is credited to us, by faith in his redemptive work for us on the cross (Romans 4:6-8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:19, Philippians 3:9, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 1:30).
In last week’s devotional, we looked at Isaiah 53, in which it was prophecied that Jesus would receive our punishment for sin. In the eleventh verse of this chapter, the prophet says about Jesus: “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the Righteous One, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (ESV, emphasis mine).
And Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8, which testify to our sinfulness? Both passages continue in the very next verse by offering us the forgiveness and righteousness of Jesus: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
So yes, God does hate sin and love sinners. But perhaps a stronger conclusion from Scripture would be: God hates sin but loves the righteous (Psalm 11:5-7, Psalm 146:8, Proverbs 15:9, Matthew 5:8, Hebrews 1:9, 1 Peter 3:12). And who are the righteous? Only Jesus—and those who have been accounted righteous in him.