God’s Furious Anger
“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day” (v. 11).- Psalm 7:11–13
Having looked at the sixth commandment and how the prohibition of murder also forbids unjust ire and the holding of grudges against those who have wronged us (Deut. 5:17; Matt. 5:21–26; 6:14–15), we are now ready to deal with the topic of anger in more depth. Dr. R.C. Sproul, through his teaching series Anger, will help us gain a better understanding of the entirety of the biblical witness concerning anger and whether it is ever right for Christians to get angry.
As with other theological and ethical topics, we must first understand God’s anger in order to comprehend human anger. The magisterial Reformers of the sixteenth century had a good understanding of our Creator’s anger, often using the Latin phrase Iram Dei placare, which means “to placate the wrath of God.” Protestant writers used this phrase to summarize the biblical teaching on the atonement. On the cross, Jesus offered Himself through the Holy Spirit to the Father as a sacrifice to atone for our sin. In so doing, He provided for the forgiveness of our sins (expiation) and satisfied the demands of God’s justice (propitiation). Because Christ placated the wrath of our Creator, the Lord can now show favor to us again without compromising His justice (Rom. 3:21–26; Heb. 2:17; 9:14; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
To be sure, the idea of God’s anger and wrath is not popular in many circles today. Critics, however, fail to understand that the Lord could not be meaningfully righteous, good, holy, or merciful if He did not pour out His wrath on evil. A good being hates what is evil, and mercy only makes sense if there is an undeserving person to whom mercy can be shown. In any case, let us always remember how our Creator’s anger is not subject to the same imperfections and sin of our ire. God is never sadistic, tired, or irritable. He is not a short-tempered hothead. Since He is perfectly righteous, His anger is always righteous and good (Ps. 97:6).
In fact, the Lord is so righteous that He is furious with impenitent sinners “every day.” Happily, He is also patient and draws His people to Himself, taking them from the state of wrath into the place of His favor (2 Peter 3:9). Moreover, He is even slow to display the full measure of His anger toward those who are not among the elect (Num. 14:18; Rom. 2:5). If He were not, no sinner could live for even a moment.
As Christians, we are privileged to be under the eternal mercy and grace of God, not His wrath. Like those who never repent, we do not deserve to escape His wrath, for we have nothing in ourselves to make us worthy of God’s favor. But if God has brought us into a saving relationship with Jesus, we never need fear the Lord’s wrath again. He is our heavenly Father who welcomes us with open arms in Christ and lovingly disciplines us to conform us to the image of His Son.
Passages for Further Study
1 Thessalonians 5:8–10