“But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?”
When you think about the attributes of God what are some of the first ones that come to mind?
If you said something like love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, goodness, peace, or joy you’d be 100% correct. God is all of all those things.
But your thoughts probably didn’t include anger or vengeful or full of wrath, which would have also been correct according to Psalm 76. That’s probably because we tend to omit or ignore the things that we’re uncomfortable with or don’t like; and we’re generally uncomfortable with the idea of Almighty God being angry.
Yet, the fact remains that God possesses an intense rage and wrath.
There is a common saying among Christians that goes like this, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Which is a popular way of expressing the idea that God loves His creation, but hates the sin that has entered into this world and corrupted and destroyed the perfect life He created. But sin isn’t some black smoke-cloud like on the island on “Lost”. Sin is all us. It wasn’t forced on us but it isn’t something that we can separate ourselves from on our own. Sin is something we all chose and it is as much a part of us as our body’s need for food and water.
Pastor and author David Platt wrote a book called “Radical”. In his book he received a lot of flack for writing “And in some sense, God also hates sinners.” Now, taken out of context (not knowing or reading the sentences before he states this that say, “Yes God is a loving father, but he is also a wrathful judge. In His wrath he hates sin. Habakkuk prayed to God, ‘Your eyes are too pure to look upon evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.'”) you could walk away from reading that and think, “wow, David Platt has it all wrong.” But you’d be missing his point. He explained it best in a talk I heard him give at a conference in Colorado (here’s an excerpt from it) where he says, “Does God hate sin and sinners? Absolutely. Look at the Cross. But, does God love sinners? Absolutely. Look at the Cross.”
The Cross, Jesus Christ’s suffering, wasn’t for something outside of us. It wasn’t to take the place of our sin on the judgement stand of God’s wrath. It was to take the place of sinners. I was to take our place because sin is something that is who we are at the core of our human existence. So God hates sinners, because Christ had to die on the cross for us in our place. But God also loves sinners, because he sent Christ to die on the cross for us in our place. Saying that God hates the sin but loves the sinner is cheapening the cross and all that it represents.
God sent His Son to stand in for us and receive the wrath that our we and our sins deserved. All we need to do is receive and take refuge in His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf. When we do, our sins are covered, and as Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Now God is omniscient, so we know that he doesn’t have some case of amnesia or forgetfulness. Rather, He has chosen for His sake not to hold any of your sins against you through trust in His servant Jesus Christ.
David Platt tells a story about a wealthy Englishman who purchases a Rolls Royce that goes like this:
Rolls Royce was the car of all cars, advertised as the car that never, ever, ever breaks down and will never, ever, ever have a problem. And so he purchases one for a hefty price and he takes his new car to France. When he gets to France, the car breaks down and he calls Rolls Royce, says, your car, the car of all cars is broken down, and immediately they fly a mechanic to France to fix the car. And he goes on his way after the car is fixed expecting to receive a bill from Rolls Royce. I mean it’s not every day you get a mechanic to fly out to you and fix the car, and he’s a wealthy man, he can pay his bill but the bill doesn’t come. And so he finally writes Rolls Royce and he says, I can pay my bill will you just send it to me. Rolls Royce sends him a note back that says I am sorry, sir, but we have no record of anything ever having gone wrong with your car.
Platt calls this a scandal. That God will one day look upon those who have trust in His name and the name of Jesus Christ and followed after Him and say, “I have no record of anything ever having gone wrong in your life.”
God’s anger is a very real thing, and our sin is a very real problem. But God’s love is real, His Son’s sacrifice is real, and so is the forgiveness that we find by placing our faith in Him.
Think about it …