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Love and Wrath

20 Apr

I’ve been praying for many months for a deeper sense of God’s love. My motivation has been partly to get a glimpse at how He loves others so I can love others better, and partly to “feel better” about myself as I gain a greater understanding of His perfect redeeming love. (How’s that for selfish?)

This morning I was continuing to read in the book of James and in chapter four he writes:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

The last part of this passage really popped out at me and I began to ponder whether the harsh realization of how much God hates our sin, and the accompanying sorrow that signals true repentance, is the beginning of knowing God’s love. The text just before that urges us to draw close to God so God will draw close to us. There is initial and humble action on our part and perhaps that action of coming toward God includes the realization of and sorrow for our shortcomings.

Then I received a link to a new post on one of my favorite blogs which also discussed this subject. (Hmm… coincidence or “a God thing”?) In it, Tim Challies declares, “Were you to ask where in the Bible we see the clearest picture of God’s wrath, I would have to point to Jesus’ final hours, from the Garden of Gethsemane to his death on the cross. After all, what but the need for satisfaction of God’s wrath, could compel the Father to send his Son to such a horrible, painful, death?”  He goes on to point out that there is no sin or excuse for sin that God overlooks. He hates sin, even the littlest one, and every sin demands an accounting.

Have I misunderstood God’s love? In general, does the American Christian treat sin lightly or misinterpret God’s perfect love through our imperfect, changing, emotional, sentimental, untrustworthy love? Challies goes on to paraphrases Leon Morris: “When the Bible speaks of God’s love, it does not refer to a warm, fuzzy sentimentality, but a love that is so jealous for the good of the one who is loved that it blazes out in wrath against all evil. The writers of the New Testament had no concept of a love that did not react in the strongest fashion against all sin…. God is able to be both perfectly loving and wrathful. Unlike us, he is not given to outbursts of emotion or to irrationality. His wrath is as perfectly and completely manifested as his love.”

Only when I understand the desperation of my condition can I understand the love and wrath of God. Until I know my sin and God’s wrath against it, I cannot know love. Until I know love, I cannot know the Savior.

God loves me so much that my sin killed His Son. I am changing the way I pray.

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3 Comments

Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Grace, Love, Prayer, Sin

 

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3 responses to “Love and Wrath

  1. juliemooreonlife

    April 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I would agree God is just and hates sin but I believe as John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” It was out of His undying, always, unchanging love that He sent His Son to die for us. His love is why He wants us to draw near, its His love toward the prodigal son that kept Him watching and waiting for the son to return, and His love that embraced the son giving Him the ring of sonship, a robe and a celebration when he came home. God’s wrath against sin was fulfilled in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ but it was His love that put Him there, according to Scripture. Well I guess it was both.

    I agree we must realize our horrible state of sin before we can truly know we need a Savior and grasp what He really did for us on the cross. If we can’t get why we need Him then the magnitude of what He did will not penetrate the depths of our hearts.

    Thanks for these great posts Amy..

     
    • AmySioux

      April 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

      I agree with you and wish we could sit with a cup of coffee and noodle this together for a while, Julie! I am just wondering if my focus is solely on love and very little on the “holy hate” God has for my sin, whether a greater degree of attention to the latter will increase my understanding of the former. I love the title of Challies blog (from which I shamelessly quoted): A Jealous Love. And as a three-time prodigal daughter, I am going to mediate on this a lot more. Happy Good Friday to you, friend!

       
      • juliemooreonlife

        April 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

        How I would love to live closer to you and the two of us Bibles in hand enjoying discussing His Word. As a prodigal daughter myself it was His love that wooed me back in His arms not the fear of His punishement. Although i did suffer tremendous consequences He did bring on those consequences I did. However He was there to pick up the pieces when I repented.

        I find because I have been forgiven of so much my love for Him keeps me living for Him, so sin is not a huge focus in my life. Of course I do sin but when my focus is on Jesus and I allow Him to live in and through me I sin less and live more abundantly.

        I will close my big mouth now but i love to share what He has done in my life. I feel a kindred spirit with you Amy so be prepared….

        Have a wonderul Easter and may you be blessed beyond your imagination with your Father’s great love for you.

         

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