Love God, hate sin. Even as I write these words, I run the risk of alienating those who might read them, but I ask you to bear with me as I explain.
Our society has done a great job of liberalizing the words of Scripture, either by saying they're too harsh; that God doesn't exist and therefore the Bible can't be true; or that what's written in Scripture really means this or that, in direct contrast to what is actually written.
This is the problem with liberalism - it takes basic truths and tries to take the edge off them because they're deemed too rigid.
When people do this, they cause the commands and laws of both society and Scripture to make a greater wound instead of the clean cut of the sharp scalpel of truth.
It is politically incorrect to speak of the Ten Commandments or the law of God, but it's perfectly all right to hang the banner of sin around someone's neck for the rest of his or her life. The murderer, the child molester, the thief, the drunkard or the addict is labeled as such.
There are also labels which have lost their effects in regard to sexual morality, orientation etc., because we strive to be tolerant.
You see in the four words above the essence of a godly belief system.
"Love God, hate sin." Notice it's not, "hate the sinner," but "hate the sin."
Jesus Christ's own words, and the heart he demonstrated, agree.
When he encountered sinners, he loved them, but also told them, "Go, and sin no more." But in the "PC" climate of America today, there's no differentiating between loving the sinner and hating the sin, and hating the sinner.
If we're going to speak the truth of the Gospel to our world, we must differentiate.
God is the creator and author of all that is true, right and moral. His laws are the very foundation of social order. Though rigid, they provide us with a wall between what is good and what is not. To reject them is to set ourselves adrift, without a compass to guide our ship or a means to direct our paths.
There are no gray areas, no fine lines, no room for "as I see it," when it comes to truth. There is just truth. It is not relative or given to any one person's interpretation. It is what God says it is.
When we alter, mess with or dabble in our own application of truth, society has no remedy for sin, and violators find no rehabilitation from it.
We are all sinners, fallen creatures, who live in a fallen world. We're not progressing toward tolerance and enlightenment - even though some believe we are - because we can't. It is not in us.
To suggest that we're progressing as we become more tolerant is to entertain the notion that we're all going to unite under the banner of believing the same thing.
That will never happen, because as freethinking people, we all have opinions and beliefs.
If we are going to come together under this utopian flag of false unity we call "tolerance," we'll have to give up believing what God has revealed in Scripture, the very thing that will bring about the true, loving unity that Jesus prayed for.
I can't do that because I love God and I hate sin.
I hate sin and what it does to people, their lives, families and their world.
But I love the sinner, because God loves the sinner, and because, like all people caught in the same or similar traps, "there, but for the grace of God, go I."
I can't glory in my own gifts, abilities or strengths, but I have to recognize that the human tendency to fall into sin is based upon deciding for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.
Sin is still sin and always will be sin, even if we say it isn't. The problem is that God said what sin is, and does a good job of defining right and wrong.
We don't like it. And yet in our hypocrisy, we hang the banner of sin on people to wear for their entire lives. Isn't it strange how that works?
Here is truth. God can set us free. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. This freedom is for you.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Cain co-pastors The Father's House with his wife, Carol. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.