“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is the title of a book by the 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards and deals with the plight of every human who stands before God in their natural state. The topic, that God can be angry, is something that many, including some Christians, find it hard to accept; 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 one essential aspect of God’s character, that is His Holiness. 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 get God 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 (perfection, total purity) cannot co-exist with un-holiness that manifests itself in sinful behaviour that results in “the anger 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 it results 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. Because of His love God provided a solution to the problem of our sinfulness; in love He sent Christ to deflect (propitiate) God’s anger away from us onto Jesus on the Cross. God did this because He loves us and the only appropriate response to that is to praise God every day in both word and deed, with all of our hearts!
What happens 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 change the direction of our life from self-focussed to God focussed).
- Secondly, we may seek a church which allows us to stay comfortable about our sin, or we may stop going to church completely.
- Thirdly, we will not be using our lives, our time, gifts, energy and money as we should as thank offerings for God’s great mercy, and in God’s service.
- Fourthly, we will not be all that serious about sharing our faith with others because we haven’t really understood the terrible consequences of God’s anger against those who have not accepted God’s offer of forgiveness and love in Christ.
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 was carrying. However, and here is the ‘Paradox’, at the Cross we also see the enormity of God’s love, in that He was prepared to allow His 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 grasp the fact and the horror of God’s holy anger against human sinful behaviour. God’s love is available to all, but on God’s terms not ours, and it requires that we acknowledge our sin and plead for God’s mercy and forgiveness, which God gladly, and lovingly waits to give, as the story of the Lost Son so well illustrates (Luke 15:11-24).
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.