We sing of God's love and grace. Songs are written about His mercy. People praise His holiness. But how often have you praised God for His wrath against sin? As I worked through Isaiah in my morning devotions, I came across these verses:
"Look Yahweh comes from far away, His anger burning and heavy with smoke. His lips are full of fury, and His tongue is like a consuming fire. His breath is like an overflowing torrent that rises to the neck. He comes to sift the nations in a sieve of destruction and to put a bridle on the jaws of the peoples to lead them astray."
( I am quoting from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which I just received as a gift.)
Isaiah uses some very vivid language here to describe the wrath of God against Assyria. But this wrath of God is toward all who are sinners as well. Maybe that is why we don't praise God for His wrath or talk about it much. I have yet to see Psalm 5:5 on a frame in someone house. "The boastful cannot stand in your presence; you hate all evildoers." Psalm 7:11 has yet to be written on a Christian greeting card. "God is a righteous judge and a God who shows wrath every day." Now this is understandable, but still we need to think more of the wrath of God. For if we praise God for His holiness then we should praise him for His wrath. His wrath is only an expression of His holiness. His black wrath against sin brings out the glorious light of the good news in Jesus Christ.
Last week I was listening to the radio where it was reported that a violent and perverse man was allowed to go free even through he was likely to commit the same offence. On this radio program, people called in to express their outrage and frustration at this injustice. No one called to defend the criminal. If anyone did, I am sure there would be much anger directed to them. It is right and noble to be angry at this crime and the injustice. If sinful unsaved people are rightly allowed to be angry over injustice, then why not God? I think this anger over injustice in people is a small reflection of the anger of God over sin. Every sin is an infinite act of injustice. Every sin is a horrible outrageous act against a good God. If God was not angered by sin, He would not be holy or good. We should be thankful that God is angry at sin and will punish it. Praise the Lord for His wrath on sinners.
The problem for us, Christians, is that we are still sinners living in a sinful world. For us to praise the wrath of God against sin, would mean we need to praise God for His wrath toward our sin. We kind of like our sin and our commitment to holiness is not so firm. We get used to sin. We have very dim perceptions of the holiness of God. Thus we have a hard time seeing how black and evil sin is. We are so accustomed to sin that we trivialize it. We are slow to put to death our sin. So we have a hard time with the infinite wrath of God against sin. But it is good for us to understand and praise the wrath of God. For it will help keep us from a low view of sin. It will help us to desire to be rid of sin. How could I sin, when that sin makes an infinitely holy God angry? Thus we need to spend more time in God's word to teach us who this holy God is.
Here is another motivation to forsake our sins. Jesus Christ suffered the infinite wrath of God that we deserved so that we could be forgiven and counted as righteous. If God the Father unleashed His wrath on His beloved Son to redeem poor unworthy sinners who will never fully understand the depths of this sacrifice, shouldn't those sinners hate those sins that still cling to them? For us to hold on to sin is as gross as someone who keeps a rotten corpse in the house. Or it is as unthinkable as keeping the bloodied knife that killed your friend in a display case. If we love Jesus, we will hate sin and remove it from our lives.
What love the Savior has for such poor sinners that He would drink the full cup of the wrath of God on their behalf!