Is God angry? What is God angry about? Some say that God is angry at sinners. Then others quickly say, “He hates sin not the sinner.” What does that mean? He doesn’t expect us to stop sinning, right?
Jesus said, “Go and sin no more…” to several people.
Does he really believe people can stop sinning. And who started all this sinning anyway? Let’s look at the first two people. What did they do to start this sinning?
They had one rule. One rule! Don’t eat from a particular tree. That seems easy enough, I mean, why would they? But why even have a rule anyway?
It was like an exit sign in the Garden of Eden. There was a conscious choice to be made. The eating of the fruit came with a warning. “Dying you will die.” The other tree that came with a name was the Tree of Life. Self explanatory, I guess. What attraction did the first tree have? It would give you a knowing of good and evil. We know they ate from it eventually. So they got the knowing. We still have it. So Adam said, “Hey! This is great. I feel wise. How about you, Eve?” No. He said, “I feel naked! And it is not a good feeling.” “Yeah, let’s make some coverings,” said Eve.
So God spoils the clothes-making party by booming out, “Ha! You did it! Here are some punishments to go on top of your miserable state.” Not at all. He simply asked, “Where are you?” He didn’t accuse them. He gave them a chance to explain but they used it to cast blame elsewhere. But didn’t he curse them? Read it closely. He did not curse them. He did curse the serpent. He did curse the earth in that it would not be so friendly to them now. But would he curse those he had blessed? No, he did not.
He made them clothes to help their uncomfortable condition. Good clothes, better than leaf ones. And the ‘punishments’? They were more like reminders that something was wrong now. So, what was their sin? Eating fruit? No. Choosing their own way to live without God’s good guidance. So ‘to sin’ is to make your own decisions without reference to God, and even to go against his clear direction.
Let’s look at someone Jesus told to “sin no more”. Her sin was clear. It had become a lifestyle with her. But where was she now? She was close to Jesus. Close to Jesus and away from the condemnation being heaped on her. She was near Jesus and forgiveness. She was in that circle of righteousness Jesus always had about him. Outside of it was wrongdoing and hypocrisy. That is when he says to her, “Go and sin no more.” Yes, take your new righteousness with you into the world and don’t trade it for a sinful life again.
Now, if God is so angry with us, why do we see it so rarely in Jesus? He takes time to reason with with those who purposely misunderstand him. Yes, he has no time for those who want to manipulate him and make him conform to their ideas of him. But, he simply leaves them, rejecting their plans for him.
We do see his frustration with his friends. When the ones closest to him who would not accept his words and embrace them in faith, he is abrupt at times. He got angry with Peter for the idea that the Messiah should not suffer? He knows the Messiah must suffer. But he shows great patience as he explains to Martha about her brother, Lazarus, and says, “I AM the resurrection and the life!” Right here. Right now. But when her sister, Mary , comes complaining about his late arrival, he says, “Show me where you have laid him.”
He weeps. Is this an angry person? No. He feels the sadness death brings to people. He understands those who don’t realize that death is not the end. Lazarus must return from bliss to show them he is still the same person. But listen. Now he speaks: “Lazarus, come forth!”
God sees you as you were meant to be. That you and I don’t see that concerns him greatly. Though his love compels him to act, he does compel us to believe him. His love is freely given and can only be freely received. He says, “Come, follow me.”
The Jewish people had a pretty clear idea of sin. But some were using it to separate people into groups or kinds of people : good and bad; sinners and righteous; our kind and their kind. Jesus didn’t accept the idea that people could not change for the better. His message of good news is that God will forget your past and bring you into his family. He extended this message to all people before he left.
So, where is all this God anger? If there is some anger, it is against the corrupting of his creation. People are so much more than they seem. When they insist on their own way to happiness, they gain his pity not his anger. How did he show this? He put himself into the hands of sinful men. We saw the sinful ones contrasted against the righteous one. They discredited him. They rejected him. They condemned him. But that was not enough. They demanded his humiliation and brutal death by their hated overlords. A reluctant Roman governor yielded to their threats of another riot and gave him over to their demands. He was then given Rome’s worst punishment for those who opposed their empire.
This was his demonstration for all time of what sin did to people. It made them jealous, hateful, vindictive, merciless, conniving and selfish of their power over people. It turned others against their fellow humans without any sense of pity for one unjustly accused of wrong. They were ready to carry out the punishment on any lower class, contemptable creature who meant nothing. He was just one of so many hundreds of Jews killed by the Romans. These were only in the way of the ascendancy of Rome over all others. They were to be subjugated by force. Who cared if some died undeservedly?
This was what sin had produced on earth: Evil men. And this is the treatment they gave to the only righteous man to walk the earth. The one who went around doing good with his power. And then the righteous man returns to offer an escape from sin to all people. He offers to change people from doing evil from a bad heart to doing good from a new heart. He offers a powerful change for any and all who will believe.
But will you and I embrace that change. We will begin to hate sin, too. We will become aware of the death and destruction it results in. Will we, like Jesus, delight in the good will of God? Will we trade our heart of uncaring stone for a human one? We don’t even make decisions that are in our own best interests at times!
But this hatred of sin is gets taken over by love. We can stand with God and offer the same salvation we are participating in. We love God and reject what keeps us from him. Sin will not destroy us because the very power of goodness comes to live in us. This is the only cure offered by the Doctor of human souls: Jesus. All others are charlatans and quacks who cannot cure the soul. They offer remedies that never reach the deep part where the change is needed. This change toward God will turn us again toward people with love and hope.
Yes, the anger of God will be seen one day. It will be toward those who opposed God and his redemption of men. Against the adversary of God who is not a human and those like him among the humans who kept others from knowing how wonderful God is and how he loves people. All lies will be exposed. All motives will be shown. Jesus will be seen as he is in all his glory. He will take his rightful place and continue his work of making us into the image of God.