When we think of God, we think of Him as a loving and kind deity. When we think of God, we think of Jesus loving on children or healing the sick. When we try to explain God to a friend or a family member, we talk about how much God loves us. We talk about how God loves us so much he is willing to sacrifice his son for us.
How often do we think of the wrath of God?
What Paul shows us in this following passage in Romans is that God’s wrath is as much part of His being as His love is.
I’m a father to two elementary-age girls. I love them with a fierce and committed love. Love defines so much of what I do for them. And yet, because I love them, I act with wrath. I fiercely work to teach them not to do things that would hurt them. When they were younger, I would yell at them if they started to cross a busy street to protect them. I’m willing to act with a vengeance to defend them. In many ways, my love and my wrath go hand in hand with my children. In much the same way, love and wrath go together when it comes to God.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 1:18.
So in this passage, Paul says that God pours His wrath against those who suppress the truth.
And what’s the truth?
From the beginning to the end of the Bible, God desires to live in a relationship with humanity. From the genesis account of God walking with Adam and Eve throughout the Old Testament, God wants to live in connection with his people. When we get to the New Testament, we encounter Jesus, who teaches us that the greatest commandment is to love God and your neighbor.
What God wants is a relationship with us.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, God has dealt with the problem of sin in the world. God wants us to live free from the devastation that comes from evil. God wants us to experience the love and forgiveness that he offers.
When you look at the New Testament, there are few times that Jesus gets angrier with the religious elite than when they add so much to the law that they keep people away from God.
God’s wrath is different than our wrath.
When we think of wrath, we think of overreactions and regrettable choices. We think of violence that is unwarranted. We think of actions that are fundamentally tainted by sin. So, when we think of wrath, we think it’s something terrible.
But isn’t wrath also used for good? Shouldn’t you feel anger when trying to defend someone from an attack? Shouldn’t our police departments act with fury to fight against violent crime? Shouldn’t apparent act wrathfully like a mother bear doing whatever it takes to protect her children from danger? There are sometimes when wrath drives us to make righteous choices. Sometimes, when we extract the twisting of sin, wrath drives virtuous actions.
When God acts in wrath, He is not tainted by sin.
The Bible talks about God’s wrath in two ways.
The final judgment of God
5 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
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 2:5.
One type of God’s wrath is the final wrath of God at the end of time. It’s when God judges all sin. However, I will talk about this frequently.
God’s current reaction to what stands against His Holiness.
God’s fundamental nature is to react with wrath against what contradicts his holy nature.
This wrath is what Paul is talking about in Romans 1:18. God’s wrath consistently flows out of his nature. Since he created the whole universe, the Bible teaches he has the right to define what’s right and wrong. And then, when he sees something wrong, his reaction is wrath.
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Jn 4:8.
It’s easy for us to accept that God fundamentally is love. But we must also accept wrath if we truly understand God.
God loves us and expresses His wrath towards us.
The beautiful part of scripture is that, like a good parent, God continually gives us both love and wrath. He’s constantly the God that loves us like the Good Shepherd does his sheep in Psalms 23. But He’s also the God who acts like violence against sin.
If we’re going to understand the gospel, then we must understand the wrath of God. If we’re going to come to grips with why we share our faith with others, then we need to come to grips with the wrath of God. If we share our faith with others, we need to come to grips with the wrath of God. God wants people to know the truth. And the truth is he loves humanity and wants us to know him.