|Create Date||September 7, 2019|
|Last Updated||September 7, 2019|
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WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT GODS WRATH?
Romans 1:18, 24, 26, 28
Redhill. 1 September 2019. Presented by Gordon Green
We are going through Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. As a reminder; Romans answers the question: how can a man or woman be right with God? Paul writes about the gospel, righteousness and faith. But before that Paul wants to ensure his readers understand their need for God. Romans 3:10 tells us that there is none righteous – not even one. The truth is we are by nature sinners who reject God. How can we be right with God? In Romans 1:18-3:20 Paul paints a clear picture of the world-wide sinfulness and wickedness of humanity. The solution is a righteousness from God. Righteousness means being right with God, walking with God in a love relationship.
Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness….”
Many people think of the end times when they read about the wrath of God in the bible. Most of us would rather hear about God’s love and grace and mercy than about his wrath, but the truth is God’s wrath is his love, mercy and grace. Paul is not talking about God’s end time wrath here. He says the wrath of God is being revealed –it’s present tense and on-going. But the wrath of God can get confusing. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you?” and “Father forgive them for they know not what they do?” Or what about the scriptures that say God will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel and will be punished with everlasting destruction etc (1 Thess 2:4-10)?
There is a lot of confusion about the wrath of God because many confuse the wrath of God with our wrath. But the anger of God is not like our anger. Our anger is often a sudden uncontrolled outburst of anger that’s saturated with sin. God’s wrath is not an emotional temper tantrum. It’s not about God flying into a rage or losing his temper or being emotionally unpredictable. When you come to any question in the bible and it sounds like it contradicts something about God go back to the beginning. The basic question to ask is “Who is God? How does what I’m reading here fit in with who is God? God is love. He doesn’t have love he is love. Love is the foundational essence of who he is. If you could break down God’s DNA you would find love. Everything we understand about God has to be understood through the lens of his love -through his perception. So anything he does must be done in love. Begin there. That is the absolute.
Can the love of God and the wrath of God be together? Yes. Love without wrath is not really love. Wrath is a part of God’s love, a part of his goodness. What does that mean? God is passionate about his creation because he loves his creation with a holy passion, love. And he loves you. Wrath is a sign of his love. He’s just as wrathful – against that which is against his creation – as he is loving. They’re not opposed to one another. Gary Deddo uses a simple analogy of sailing a boat. “If you’re sailing with the wind, it’s amazing what the experience is, it’s calm, it’s peaceful. You can’t even feel the breeze, because you’re going at the same speed as the breeze. It’s enjoyable, the sun is warm, it’s quiet. But if you turn around and try to sail upwind against the wind, in an instant it’s as if you’re in a whole different situation. All of a sudden it’s windy, it’s noisy. The water is splashing up. You’re feeling as it were double the wind. So with the wind speed plus your speed into the wind, now you’ve got twice as much wind. And if you’re wet and there’s all this wind, now it’s freezing, although the sun is still out.” God’s love is in a certain direction and he is moving towards a goal – to bring us into right relationship, a holy relationship, of sharing in his son’s sonship.
If you go with the wind, you experience it one way, but if you turn around and resist it, it resists you. But the direction of the wind did not change. God’s mercy, God’s love does not change. But if you resist it, it resists your resistance. Sin is resistance of the good purposes and the love of God. God will always be against everything and anything that ruins, distorts, twists a right relationship with God. God’s wrath is as strong as his love and his mercy. His anger arises when the object of his love is being harmed in some way. If God were not opposed to what is destructive to us and our relationship with him, God would not really be loving.
If your child runs out into the traffic you will scream and sound very angry and shout “No!” You will even rush into the traffic perhaps to be hurt yourself in order to stop the child. The child will cry because you have spoiled its fun. The child will say you were angry. Why did you do that? Love. This is love to the extreme. God is not a god who is going to punish us. He loves us so much that he will take the wrap for us. He is the one who will jump into the traffic even if he will be hit first - rather than let us suffer. That is very different from punishment. So God is against everything that’s against his purposes to reconcile and redeem his creation. God’s wrath is rooted in his love and goodness. It is his opposition to everything evil. It is about this fierce love he has for you.
What would you do if your child had a cancerous lump on her back? If nothing is done cancer often spreads quickly and eventually takes over the whole body. You won’t sit around and hope it will go away. The doctors say it must be cut out or else your child will die. You can’t bear the thought of your child being cut by a surgeon’s knife but you know that is what you have to do. You submit your child to radical surgery. The child’s life is saved. Why did you do it? Love. You love the child but you hate the cancer. So you are determined, passionate and intentional about getting rid of it. So you take action. Wrath is the love of God in action – in opposing action. Wrath is an expression of his love - not the opposite of love.
The love of God is strong. It is his determination, intentional and deliberate will. He created us for a purpose and he will fulfil that purpose. God created us to a life of fullness and joy and when mankind sinned God said: “No. This is not acceptable. I did not create you for misery. I did not create you to perish.” The wrath of God must be understood within that. God’s passion is to get his children back and to bless us with all the treasures of heaven. God loves us. He is for us and therefore opposed – utterly, eternally and passionately opposed – to our destruction. And this fiery, intense, violent wrath and passionate opposition is an expression of his love. In the rest of Romans 1, Paul writes about all the sinful, evil things people do - idolatry, envy, murder, gossips, haters of God, boastful and so on. Three times we read these chilling words: Because they didn’t honour God he “gave them up (or over).” “God lifted off his restraining hand and let them have full expression of their sinful and shameful desires”(TPT). God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” The wrath of God is God letting them have what they want. That’s the wrath of God at work. It is an active force. A good example of this is in the story of Pharaoh and the ten plagues.
The wrath of God is the set way of God against sin. Our anger is passing. His anger is not a passion like ours but the way he is. Right now God’s wrath is working against sin. The essence of God’s being is love. God’s anger is an aspect of his love. His anger arises when the object of his love is being harmed in some way. In fact, if God were not opposed to what is destructive to us and our relationship with him, God would not really be loving. The intensity of his wrath is proportional to the strength of his love.