The above title is that of a book by the famous 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards and deals with the plight of every human who will have to stand before God in their natural state. The topic, that God can be angry, is something that many, including some Church attendees, find quite shocking; after all isn’t God supposed to be a God of infinite love? The fact is however that both God’s anger and love flow out of the same essential aspect of His character, that is His Holiness, and if we do not have a good understanding of the anger of God it can affect whether we are a Christian at all, and will most certainly affect our ministry and life.
So what does God get angry about? He is angry about sin; He is angry about human behaviour that falls short of His design and intention for the humans He created. God’s holiness (otherness, perfection, total purity) cannot co-exist with un-holiness, that which manifests itself in sinful behaviour, and such behaviour results in
“the wrath of God being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people” (Romans 1:18).
The result of God’s anger may or may not work out in His actions in our earthly life, but it certainly will in the future life where if not deflected will result in exclusion from God’s presence.
It is only when we really understand the extreme horror of God at, and His anger against, our sin that we will understand the infinite love of God. It is His love that deals with His own anger against us such that He provided a solution to the problem of our sinfulness. In love He sent Christ to deflect God’s own anger away from us onto Jesus on the Cross (the technical word is ‘Propitiate). God did this because of His infinite love for us and the only appropriate response to that is to praise God every day in both word and deed, with all of our hearts!
If we downplay or ignore God’s anger against sin a number of things are possible or even probable.
• Firstly, we will not really understand our desperate, yes desperate, need for God’s forgiveness and the need for God to deflect His anger against us onto Christ. Then we will not plead for God’s mercy and we will not see the real need for repentance in our life (that is, radically change how we live).
• Secondly, we may seek a church which allows us to stay comfortable about our sin (as many do), or we may drop out of Christian community completely.
• Thirdly, we will not be using our lives, our time, gifts, energy and money as we should to passionately thank God for His great mercy, and in God’s service.
• Fourthly, we will not be all that serious about evangelism. This will be because we haven’t understood the terrible consequences of God’s anger against those who have not accepted God’s offer of forgiveness and love in Christ. This can include our family and friends.
If we have any doubt regarding God’s anger being directed against sin, we only have to look at the Cross. There God’s anger was poured out on sin, our sin which Jesus took on Himself. However, at the Cross we also see the enormity of God’s love, in that He was prepared to allow His own Son to suffer His anger in our place!
The enormous magnitude of God’s love and mercy for us in Christ only becomes clear when we really understand the fact and the horror of God’s holy anger against human unholy, sinful behaviour. God’s love is available to all, but on God’s terms not ours, and it requires for us to acknowledge our sin and plead for God’s mercy and forgiveness, which God gladly, and lovingly waits to give.
Really understanding God’s anger against sin will change our life and our eternal life, because it is the key to receiving God’s love, forgiveness and mercy, and the keys to paradise. We need to be sure that this is something we really do understand, for a sinner really does not want to fall into the hands of an angry God