Why This Program Embraces the Sinner


Perhaps you have heard the adage, “God hates sin, but loves the sinner.” I Googled that phrase once and came across a website that violently disagree with it. “God hates sinners,” the man exclaimed in an unmistakable huff. He went on to cite a couple of Old Testament verses that seemed to support his notion. All I can say is that this man exuded a harsh and self-righteous spirit that I have never sensed from the Lord.

It is true that there are some imprecatory psalms that express God’s displeasure of the wicked and a superficial reading of those verses would seem to indicate that God hates those people. But a closer examination of Scripture reveals something entirely different about this loving God we serve.

Consider the stories of Ahab and Manasseh. (1 Kings 21:27-29; 2 Chronicles 33:10-13) These were arguably the two most wicked kings in the history of the Jewish nation. Both of them were responsible for the deaths of possibly hundreds of God’s prophets. Yet, in both cases, He extended mercy to them when they repented.

And if God hates “sinners,” someone will have to explain to me the most famous statement in Scripture: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17) I might mention that this is the same world that brutally murdered His Son.

The fact that God loves sinners was personified in the life of Christ—God Incarnate. For instance, under the scowling eyes of the self-righteous Pharisees, Jesus stood in line to be baptized with sinners, thus forever identifying Himself with their need. Later the religious leaders sneered, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2) and “He is a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!” (Luke 7:34)

The Savior’s reply to these religious hypocrites was to tell them to “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)

Many years ago we hung a sign above the old Pure Life chapel that read: “Sinners Only Allowed.” That sign was placed there for two primary reasons.

First, the men who come to Pure Life Ministries need to know that God loves sinners. Many of these men have carried deep shame and guilt around over their sin for years. In the past they have made and broken resolutions to change. They have shunned the discipline and correction of the Lord. They have hardened their hearts to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Most of these men enter into true repentance for the first time in their lives when they arrive at our Residential Program. They need to know that now that they have done so, they are free of all that past guilt. They can now unreservedly receive the full measure of God’s love for them.

Second, they must be reminded never to forget that they are sinners. Once we lose sight of our utter unworthiness of God’s grace, we begin to become increasingly more ungrateful and prideful. Sometimes the most arrogant men are those who have experienced the greatest degree of God’s mercy. We owe it to Him to live the rest of our lives in the grateful awareness of the unmerited favor He has shown us.

So, yes, God loves sinners. In fact, Jesus is the greatest friend they will ever know.

Yet, just as true is the fact that God hates sin. He hates every act of sin that has ever been committed. In fact, He intensely hates it because He understands that it ruins lives, destroys families and corrupts society. He hates it because it keeps those who are practicing willful sin out of His kingdom. (Galatians 5:21; 1 John 2:4; 3:6-8; etc.) In short, the Lord cannot tolerate it because it does so much damage to people’s lives.

One of the most wonderful aspects of the Pure Life Ministries Residential Program is that, once a man experiences his breakthrough of repentance, he can begin to learn to truly walk in the Spirit. It is this newfound lifestyle of walking near to God that provides the impetus to obey His commandments. Gone are the days of trying to do the impossible of pleasing God in the flesh. (Romans 8:8) Now they can walk in newness of life in Christ.

God pities those who are caught up in the grip of the enemy. If you struggle with habitual sexual sin, God wants to take up your cause. He desires your absolute freedom from the devilish bondage of pornography and illicit sex. The Lord wants you to repent and return to the intimacy with Him that sin has stolen from you.

The staff of Pure Life Ministries is dedicated to truly loving each person the Lord sends our way. By the grace of God, we will do our utmost to lay our lives down for those who come to us for help.

However, we are also determined to maintain our hatred of sin. We will never acquiesce to worldliness in our battle against wickedness and remain dedicated to continually resist popular trends toward licentiousness—the minimization of evil. Every man who comes to us for help must sense a holy passion for God’s righteousness in our lives.

I wish to assure you that whatever help you receive from this organization, you will know without a doubt that the staff members of Pure Life Ministries truly do hate sin and love sinners. 

Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.

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