Righteous Wrath

 

Not all anger is sin.

Not all wrath is to, be condemned.

Neither is all hatred to be considered to be of the devil.

Paul tells the church at Ephesus, “Be angry and sin not.” Ephesians 4:26: Surely that means that it is possible to be angry without sinning. Besides, of Jesus we read in Mark 3:5, when the Pharisees were watching to see whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that “He looked round about upon them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” InDeuteronomy 1:37 Moses says, “Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou shalt pot go in thither.” And in Deuteronomy 9:20 he says, “And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him, and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.” God is angry with the wicked every day, according to Psalm 7:11. Moses was filled with wrath when some of the people disobeyed and gathered more manna than enough for the day. For we read in Exodus 16:20, “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.” God declares Himself in Isaiah 47:6 to Babylon, “I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst show them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.” Elisha, we read in II Kings 13:19 was wroth with Joash, King of Israel when he smote the ground three times. We read, “And the man of God was wrath with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.”

And as to hatred, the psalmist says in Psalm 139:21, 22, “Do not I hate them; O Lord; that hate Thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies.” And when we are told by John in I John 2:15 not to love the world, surely the positive admonition is to hate the world and the things in the world.

And so from all this it ought to be plain that there is a place in the life of the regenerated child of God for anger, but also for wrath and even for hatred. There is a righteous wrath which does not deny his sanctification but rather gives clear evidence of it. Take, for example, that verse again in Psalm 139:21, 22. The psalmist hates God’s enemies. He is grieved with those that rise up against; Him. And can a child of God who loves God do anything else?

One thing we do well to bear in mind is that anger and wrath are not the opposite of love. Hatred is the opposite of love. And therefore it is quite possible to be angry with someone whom you love. God is angry with the wicked in His intense and eternal hatred of them. But it is quite possible for a father to be angry with his child whom he loves. In fact he can be angry exactly because he loves that child.

Webster, tells us that anger is a strong passion or emotion of displeasure. Wrath he calls violent anger, a deep and determined indignation, vehement exasperation, fierce indignation: While hatred he calls a feeling of great aversion for and an exceedingly great dislike of a person. In that hatred one can be angry, for he can be greatly displeased and have fierce indignation for that person as well. But a father who loves his child can be sorely displeased because of the actions of his child. Solomon declares that he that spareth the rod hateth his son. It follows then that one can in love apply that rod, when one is displeased with the sinful walk of his son. In fact in Proverbs 13:24 he says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” He loves his child; and he loves God. He desires to see his child walk in God’s ways. And when that child goes the way of sin, father is righteously displeased and chastises his child to correct him and bring him back to the way of God’s law. Many a father, on the other hand, reveals his hatred to God and his son by allowing him to continue to walk in the way of evil.

O, fathers are human and by nature totally depraved. They can then in a fit of temper beat their children and injure them severely. It may well be the hate of the flesh and not the love of a covenant parent. Always we must be on our guard against such punishment of the child. It does not teach him to walk in God’s ways. It only brings out the evil in his sinful nature. Scripture is aware of this fact. And therefore we read in Ephesians 6:4, “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” We may note the contrast here. Provoking our children to wrath is not bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It may be training them to walk OUR way but not God’s way. It may be showing them the evil of father’s or mother’s heart, the vengeance of a sinful man, the cruelty of the flesh; the hot temper of a fallen parent; but it does not bring up the child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In fact, in the epistle to the Hebrews these things are spelled out when we read in Hebrews 12:6-10, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.” Indeed, often we do chastise our children for our pleasure rather than for their profit. WE are irritated! They have displeased us. And we are not concerned with the fact that they sinned against God. It is WE who have been hurt by their inattention, by their words and actions. It is not then, to train them and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord that we give a stinging blow, but for our own pleasure, or rather because we personally have been displeased by their actions.

Nevertheless, a covenant parent can and by God’s grace is angry, often sorely displeased, indignant and exasperated by the evil perpetrated by his child because this parent sees it as sin against God. Who would say that there is no room for this? Go through the Scriptures, and you will find it time and again. And you will also find those Eli’s who see the sins of their children and probably say, “Boys, boys, do not do such evil things,” but never get excited enough or bothered enough to train them up in the nurture of the Lord by teaching them that sin must be punished, and the child must be brought to sorrow for his sin. Even though he may become furious at his neighbor’s children’s sins. O, we see such a spirit of indifference today in this respect. Present day child psychology has room for the child to get exasperated with his parents to show and express all his displeasure at the rulings and authority of his parents, but condemns all display of the displeasure of the parents at the sinfulness of their children. Modern child psychology turns the law of God around and says, “Parents, honor your children that it may be well with you.” Shame on us. Surely this is not the language of Scripture. Soon we shall—and indeed, it is already upon us—reap what we have sown; and it will be a whirlwind which we reap.

But, as we said, Scripture shows the child of God indignant, highly displeased with sin, filled with righteous wrath against evil works, false doctrines, bold enemies of the cross of Christ. So much so that the psalmist says, as we pointed out, that he hates God’s enemies with a perfect hatred. Was this not the very prediction of God Himself to the devil and the promise of God to His Church? Were not the very first words of encouragement that God spoke after the fall of man exactly that He would putenmity between seed and seed? Does that not belong to the very essence of our salvation that we hate sin in every form, become angry and are filled with wrath at every display of sin? The alternative is that we are not bothered by it, that we can tolerate it, yea that we enjoy it. It is either . . . . or. No, we do not hate them as OUR enemies, therefore we lay no finger upon them. We take away none of their, possessions: We bear no false witness against them or even covet their possessions. But as GOD’S enemies we are filled with righteous wrath. We have by the regenerating grace of God the hatred that God has for sin and sinners in our hearts.

We may note, too, that Psalm 139 speaks of hating men, of hating sinners as well as their sins. It is not true that God hates the sin but not the sinner. Psalm 7:11plainly declares that He is angry with the wickedand not with their wickedness alone. In Romans 9:13 we read that “it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” And the word hated here does not mean “loved less” but is the same word used inRevelation 2:6 and Revelation 17:16. In the former passage it is stated that the church at Ephesus hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which God also hates. And in the latter passage it is stated that the ten kings, who gave their thrones to the antichrist, shall later on hate the whore and make her desolate and naked and eat her flesh and burn her with fire. Those are not acts of loving less. They reveal a total lack of love. God HATES the sinner; and His people hate the sinners as God’s enemies. If God simply hated the sin, why does He presently cast the sinner into hell? Is He a changeable God Who today can love and tomorrow can hate? He tells us in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore are ye sons of Jacob not consumed.” No, God does not hate today and love tomorrow. God does not love today and hate tomorrow. He loves eternally and He hates eternally: There is no moment in time when He begins to love or when He begins to hate. He is not a changeable God.

Righteous wrath, holy indignation then we surely may have against the sinner and his sin. You simply cannot separate the sinner from his sin. You cannot say that you hate his sin but love him. It simply is not true. For what is sin? It is the act of man as he violates the law of God. Sin is, not an abstract; theoretical entity. Sin is an act of a thinking-willing being. No more than you can truthfully say, I hate the fruit of that tree but I love the tree, can you say, I hate the sin of that man but I love the man. For you cannot say that you love God and also love Hisenemies.

The law says that we must love OUR enemies? Of course, and we plan to say something about that next time, the Lord willing. But this is no contradiction if we note that it is GOD’S enemies that we must hate.

—J.A.H.