Unleash Your Inner Warrior
“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”
My dear warrior,
So many are offended by the doctrines of God, by Scripture itself; even people who call themselves believers. We're living in a time in which it is counter-cultural to be a lover of God, to be a man or woman after His own heart and mind. In a society where men create God in their own image and exchange truth for a lie so they can comfortably live in their own sin, I challenge you to wrestle with these topics and not be offended by the Word of God. Do not be put off by this seemingly difficult topic, but rather allow your heart to become ravenously hungry after God’s heart, and challenge yourself to delve deeper into God’s nature.
The wrath of God is an unpopular topic, and this week as I enthusiastically shared with a few people what I was writing about, I got a few rather alarmed looks and the response was “The wrath of God?? That sounds horrible!” I will admit, at first blush, this definitely seems uncomfortable. When God put it on my heart several weeks back, I really wrestled with it. But once I dove into it, I was pleasantly overtaken by how glorious the wrath of God really is!
God is a God of Love. He is also a God of wrath. However, there is an important distinction that needs to be made: He is Love. He is not wrath. His wrath is a hot extension of His love for us, not some schizophrenic side of his personality. Love and wrath are two sides of the same coin. To ignore that side of His nature is to ignore something that makes His love that much more glorious, brilliant and beautiful! Without wrath, His Love would not be nearly as profound. I have come to understand that you cannot fully comprehend God’s Love for you if you do not understand His wrath.
The definition of God’s wrath is not the same as human rage. Not even remotely. God does not lack self-control, as humans do, and He does not fly into a blind rage on occasion only to cool back down. God’s nature is perfectly consistent and never changing. God’s wrath is a steady attitude of hatred towards sin. It is absolutely consistent and never grows any weaker or stronger. His wrath is as consistent as His love.
This consistent attitude of hatred is directed at everything that is in opposition to holiness. He hates that which destroys the object of His love (you!) with the same intense passion as He loves us. Many would argue that because God is Love, that He cannot hate. I would immediately counter that, because Scripture frequently tells us that God hates sin, and we are commanded to hate what is evil.
“Most preachers and most composers of prayers today treat the biblical doctrine of the wrath of God very much as the Victorians treated sex. It is there, but it must never be alluded to because it is in an undefined way shameful. …God is love; therefore we must not associate him with wrath. God is love; therefore he is indefinitely tolerant. Presumably it is for such reasons that the Christian churches of the twentieth century have in practice turned their backs upon the biblical doctrine of the wrath of God.” —RPC Hanson
The notion that God cannot hate because He is Love has come about with the ridiculous western attempt to “redefine” love as tolerant. That is not love at all. It is a shallow, empty, and deluded twisting of something pure and holy, and it is simply inconsistent with the Bible. I want you to realize something: it would be inconsistent with His nature to have passionate love for you and then to be passive about the things that are destroying you.
“Turn God’s wrath into mere enlightened disapproval, and you also turn his love into mere humanitarianism. The ‘consuming fire’ and the ‘perfect beauty’ both vanish.” –C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Some see God only as a sovereign king offended by sin. If you see God as a wrathful taskmaster, He becomes flat and one-dimensional and you miss what He is like. You cannot understand the fullness of His nature if you remove love from the equation; He is love, and is a relational God at the very core. Others see Him as a loving Father whose heart is broken by sin. If you see Him only as Love and exclude wrath, you will never understand how deep His love is for you, effectively turning it into little more than the caricature that our western world have made ‘love’ into.
"The source of the idea that God is love is the Bible itself. And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgment who will put all things in the world to rights in the end." – Timothy Keller
Understand this: God is both! He is both a Sovereign King offended by sin, and a loving Father, brokenhearted by sin. Think of both of these together as they are: as one! This is the God whose first requirement of us is to love Him with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. To refuse to give our entire heart to Him in total obedience is the great sin of the human race. It is the sin that puts us all under wrath.
Because God is a God of love and has given us free will, He will not infinitely try to stop us from doing something bad. Why not? Think of it from the perspective of a parent. You can only tell your kid not to do something that you know is not good for them or will hurt them so many times. There comes a point where you realize that the only way they will stop is if you say ‘fine, have it your way’ and let them learn for themselves. God will not violate our free will by holding us back from pursuing sin. He will eventually give us over to our sinful desires. Think of His wrath simply as effective parenting. If you demand to live in sin, if you reject the Son (and thus the only means of salvation that has been offered to you), then you are demanding to own the wrath that God has already dealt with; you are demanding your own self-destruction; you are demanding to take hold of the devastating effects of sinfulness.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." –C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
God’s wrath is directly linked to His love for us. When we feel the weight of our sin, and the intensity of His wrath, we run to the Father’s arms like a child who has burned itself on a hot pan. His wrath drives us to the cross where we can find mercy and hope. Jesus took on punishment that was not His. His sacrifice on the cross satisfied the wrath that was placed on us for our sins. It is the greatest love story ever told, and it is found in God’s wrath. Without God’s wrath, Christ would have never been crucified in our place; He would never have become sin for us. And if His love were not equally intense for us, there would have been no reason for any of His work. But His wrath and Love are both intense. When we recognize both at once, then we are able to see Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for all it truly is, in the light of the glory of both Love and wrath.
So why did Christ need to die for us in the first place? Moral people see unrighteousness simply as being a list of sins, and they go through the checklist saying, “I don’t do this, or this or that. Overall, I’m a pretty good person. What did I do to deserve hell?” But the true requirement, as I mentioned before, is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
First of all, unrighteousness flows out of ungodliness. Ungodliness is denial of the first commandment by our lifestyle and rejecting it in our hearts. Ungodliness can also be described as a lack of passion after God’s own heart. When you choose not to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, you are rejecting godliness and choosing ungodliness.
Godliness is an intention to be passionate with God, to be radically abandoned after God’s heart in the secret place of our lives. Many people try to clean up the acts of sin (the unrighteousness in their lives) before they deal with the lack of passion in their hearts. You will never be able to fix the issue of unrighteousness before you have settled the issue of passion in your heart and begin living a life radically abandoned after God.
Learn to see God in the light of His sovereignty: as a great and terrible King, as a Commander of a great army. If you see Him as the Lion He is (like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia), as kind and gentle, but also the most fearsome and fiercely terrifying person you have ever known (with a mighty roar!), He will be the greatest comfort you have ever known.
To my warrior, protectors and samurai reading this: think of His Love and wrath depicted in the form of a samurai. Samurai warriors are fearsome and can be absolutely terrifying, especially when you understand that they could destroy someone in an instant. But you feel safe in their presence, knowing that no harm will come to you as long as you are under their protection.
“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.” –C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
God is Love. Because He is Love, because He is sovereign and holy, He hates what is evil. It is His very nature. He is disgusted by our sin and ungodliness. God’s wrath is an expression of his consistent love against that which is unholy and would destroy us. He is absolutely opposed to sin, and is rich in mercy and love.
I’ll give one last example on a small, human level. In those whom I love dearly, I cannot cease to will the removal of the things that keep them in bondage. I hate the vices in their lives, and I desire to see them set free from sin, fear, doubt, unbelief, bitterness, shame, guilt and condemnation (to name a few things). I want to see them confess sin as sin. I hate sin in their lives because I see the damaging effect it has on them (and those around them) and because I love them dearly! When you love someone, you do not want to see them continue on in the very sin that is destroying them. If you truly love someone, you do not enable them to carry on their sin. I remember watching someone enable another person on in sin and my immediate, horrified question was, “Do you hate them so much that you want to see them continue on in sin? To see them stay in bondage, rather than be set free?” Why on earth do we tolerate sinfulness?
Our minuscule blip of understanding of wrath is so small in comparison to the wrath that God feels that we cannot begin to fathom the depths of His wrath and hatred for sin. If we are disgusted by the sin that destroys the lives of those we love, how much more is God disgusted by those things? How much more does it hurt Him to see the children He so loves be destroyed by sin? How much more is God affected by these things in His infinite nature and infinite Love?
Is the wrath of God scary? Yes! It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. But His Love for us is as fierce as His wrath against ungodliness is intense. We grossly underestimate God. I don't think we realize how serious it is when God gives a command. As a warrior, understand that you have been given a command to love Him with all you have and all you are. Live with an unoffended heart. You have no right to be offended by such a command. Why? Because God formed you with His hands, and it is His very breath in your lungs that gave you life. Your life is not your own. We owe our lives to God. The least we can do is fulfill the first commandment. The best part? The command is to love. What a beautiful command. What could be more brilliant than simply being asked to love the God who gave you life? What could be more beautiful than giving the life that was given back to the one who gave it? To love Love Himself!
More on this in the coming weeks. Stay strong in the Lord, my dear warrior.
©Michèle Aimée, 2015
About the Author
Michèle is a warrior with a passion for God, a deep love of writing, and a fire for combat training. As a warrior, she understands that when she is given orders, she must follow through.