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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 4

God’s Wrath

The Jews supposed that their knowledge of God made them better than the Gentiles. Paul meets that idea head on in Rom. 3:9-12. “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

When we confront in the scriptures a phrase like “the wrath of God” we are prone to think only in future terms. We think of great plagues and of fiery judgments poured out upon a wicked world, and ultimately of the lake of fire itself. However this is only a part of God’s wrath.

Rom. 1:18 begins, “For the wrath of God is revealed ...” That is present tense — now. Paul is not speaking here only of future judgment but of something already being experienced by rejecters of God.

We should hasten to point out that when Paul says that the wrath is “revealed” he does not mean that man in general understands or is even capable of understanding this. Remember Rom. 3:11.

I Cor. 2:14 says, “But the natural man” (that is, any man regardless of how intelligent he may be, possessing only Adam’s life as a result of natural birth) “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes.”

Only those who have been enlightened by Christ are capable of seeing and understanding the wrath of God in the earth. All others have been blinded by the “god of this world,” the devil (II Cor. 4:4).

Other scriptures also reveal that God’s wrath is not only future but present. In Eph. 5:6, after referring to some specific types of sinners, Paul says, “For because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” The word “cometh” is present tense. Why doesn’t Paul say God’s wrath “will come” (future tense) if he means to restrict wrath to the future? See also Col. 3:6 for a parallel verse.

How about John 3:36? “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Here the unbeliever is spoken of as continually under the wrath of God. It is apparent that wrath can be more than some obvious calamity or some future final judgment. Many sinners appear to be getting along well (see David’s battle with this in Psalm 73) yet in reality they are under God’s wrath and know it not.

God’s wrath against those who reject the light of nature and of conscience (Rom. 2:14-15) takes the form of abandonment to the control and consequences of sin. This is described in Rom. 1:24-32 using such phrases as: “God also gave them up to uncleanness” (24); “God gave them up unto vile affections” (26); and “God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (28).

Consequences of Sin

Sin has terrible consequences. Our world is filled with violence and wickedness and suffering of every description through man’s rebellion against his Maker.

Galatians 6:7-8a says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.”

James 1:13-15 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

Rom. 1:27, for example, speaks of homosexuals as “receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” In other words there are appropriate consequences that go with that sin. Our present-day problem of AIDS is but one such consequence. AIDS is an expression of God’s wrath. That is not a popular sentiment, but it is the truth.

A popular question among unbelievers concerns the evil, pain and suffering in the world. “How can a loving God allow such conditions to exist?” they say. Such reasoning has contributed to atheism in others who say, “If there were a God ...”, etc.

As usual man has it all backwards. The believer is able to say with David, “He is the Lord our God: his judgments are in all the earth.” Psalm 105:7. The pure in heart can see God, even in these things (Matt. 5:8).

Should a holy God bless and protect man in his sin? What kind of love would that be? The condition of our world is a witness to the condition of man himself to those who have eyes to see. Unbelieving man wants to blame God (if he even believes in Him) for such things but man himself is responsible. God in creation gave man a sphere of dominion and responsibility and he chose to reject God, falling consequently under the dominion of sin. The evil we see in the world is a direct result.

In spite of all this God allows wicked men to experience many natural blessings. In Matt. 5:45 Jesus said of his Father, “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” This does not cause men to glorify God or to be thankful, however, as Rom. 1:21 makes clear.

In Psalm 107 David repeatedly says, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Verse 7, for example).

On the other hand judgment doesn’t cause a real unbeliever to repent either. Rev. 16:9 speaks of a judgment in which “men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.” Man’s condition is far more desperate than we realize. What God does in the earth He does for the sake of His elect remnant. The rest are abandoned, turned over to their own corruption.

It is a terrible thing to be abandoned by God, to have no hope, Most of our world today occupies that position, though they are not aware of it.

Of course wrath, in the form of abandonment, is certainly not limited to those outside the law but is experienced by all who reject truth. One such consequence is strong delusion as described in II Thess. 2:11-12, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Such delusion as is described there seals men’s fate. No amount of preaching or prayer or anything is able to change the destiny of those so abandoned because God is through with them. One may simply perish like a beast while the other faces judgment and the lake of fire but neither has any hope of immortality.

Truly we need to respect Jesus’ words in John 12:35-36 to “walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” Light of any kind brings responsibility.

The heathen man is responsible for the light of creation and the light of his conscience. In rejecting that light he lives out his brief life under God’s wrath and judgment and dies like an animal. So we can see that the man outside the law does experience judgment. However when we speak of the judgment as described in Rev. 20 we speak of the final bar of God’s justice where those who have been confronted with revealed truth will be called to account.

Paul uses the following language concerning that day: “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.” (Rom. 2:5-9). Even the unbeliever in that day will know that the judgment of God is righteous.

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