The short answer: yes.
I used to think this cliche was naive. After all, sins aren’t punished; sinners are.
On Judgment Day, we won’t see any love expressed toward unbelievers, only the penalty of their sins, which will all be left unforgiven.
This is true. And the expression “Love the sinner; hate the sin” should never be used to pretend otherwise.
But that is not the point.
God has established that, right now, before the Final Judgment, it is right and true to love the sinner and hate the sin.
To understand this, consider Genesis 1-3.
God promised immediate death for the eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve were supposed to die the same day that they trespassed on God’s food.
But they didn’t die. Adam and Eve were exiled, and animals died to give them covering. But they were alive.
Because of God’s mercy, there was now a period of time in which Adam and Eve could repent and be saved. It was now possible to separate their selves from their sins.
In fact, the whole point was that they needed to love themselves truly by hating their sins.
And every time we present an unbeliever with the Gospel, we are revealing that they have a moment in history to take advantage of this temporary separation. Every unbeliever, when he hears the Gospel, should repent and trust in Jesus. He should love himself by hating his sin and trusting God to deliver him from it through Christ Jesus.
The horrible fact is that many chose to love their sin and hate themselves. If they continue in this, it will eventually be too late. Sins and selves will be forever one.
Unhappily, some Christians, believing in God’s complete fore-ordination of all things (correctly), infer from this truth that God’s future attitude toward unbelievers on Judgment Day is identical to his present and past attitude.
But this is simply a false inference. Just because God has decreed that something will happen doesn’t mean he views it as having already happened, or that every moment leading up to that eventual future is of no significance. As Paul writes in Romans 2.
We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed (Romans 2:2-5 ESV).
The fact that wrath is building up does not change the fact that this is a time of God’s kindness and patience. In fact, it is precisely because God’s kindness of making a time of grace–when sins and sinners can be separated–that rejecting this opportunity is such a wicked act of ingratitude.
It would be totally wrong to use the fact of a Future Judgment to deny God’s present kindness and patience.
Love the sinner and hate the sin as long as there is still time!