I think people’s idea of wrath has been slightly misconstrued. What I mean is, I think people associate wrath with anger. Now on one hand, that makes complete sense. After all, according to the dictionary, wrath is extreme anger (and by extreme anger I don’t think they mean extreme like drinking a Pepsi Max). No, I think the problem comes from how we understand anger.
Most of the time our experiences of anger come from things that frustrate us, irritate us, or upset us. Or to a greater degree, when something that we feel is unjust has happened. It angers us. At the same time, after we grow angry at someone or something, we may eventually calm down, think through the situation, and perhaps realise that it’s not so bad after all. (This is of course not always the case, as sometimes something make us sooo angry, it’s hard to see any positives at the end of it).
But when we consider God, it’s not always helpful to project ourselves onto Him. See, we probably think that we’ve done something wrong, God gets angry, but then later God calms down and forgives us. After all, that’s how it went with our parents, and their parents before them. A cycle of anger & forgiveness. And so, we project that onto God because the Bible talks so much about anger and forgiveness.
But God’s anger and his wrath don’t stem from us upsetting him. See, when we understand God’s wrath as a righteous wrath, things make more sense. Righteousness is what is right by God’s standards. It is the standards of truth. Of perfection. If we go to a restaurant and order a panna cotta, we don’t expect someone to bring out a toy monkey. That’s just not right. And when we consider God in all his perfection, majesty, purity and holiness, he makes no compromise. God’s truth is the measure by which we’re judged.
God’s wrath is one that is on the side of truth and justice. We want and need that kind of wrath. It is a righteous wrath that persecutes the evil and judges it. That’s the wrath that brings justice to those who have been wronged. It is a wrath that cannot tolerate deception and evil.
Our problem is — we are fully capable of evil and lies. We fall under that same wrath. We cannot be good enough to face that truth. God’s truth is truth, and it is that truth we either reject or accept.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” -Romans 1:18
This is why we need Jesus. We absolutely need him utterly and desperately. Because he is truth. But he is also the way. Through him, we can be made righteous. Actually, we are made righteous by faith in Him. Either you choose to let Christ represent you, or you choose to represent yourself. But on the day of judgement, does your truth compare to God’s truth? Does your righteousness and goodness equal God’s?
And so with humility and desperation we ask Jesus to be our truth – that by him and through him we are reconciled with God.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Romans 3:21,22
These were some thoughts from this week’s continuing series through the book of Romans. The message on Romans 2:1-16 can be found on the Sunday messages page. There is also an accompanying Bible study with leaders notes available on the searchable resources page.