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The love of God and the wrath of God

Is the wrath of God incompatible with the love of God? It can’t be! God’s wrath is the perfect expression of his love! Romans 1:18 says that “the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness.” The passage goes on to say that in wickedness the ungodly suppress the truth about God. They have clearly perceived the truth–that God is love–since the creation of the world.

In the Bible story of creation, God made a man and a woman, set them in a garden, and gave them everything in the garden except the fruit of one tree. He told them to fill the world with other people and rule it. Satan came along and accused God of not being generous enough. He told them to eat the forbidden fruit and become just like God.

It was a lie. They did not gain anything at all. They only became Satan’s slaves. By the way, Adam is not merely the name of that first man in an old folk tale. In Hebrew, it’s the generic word for human. Already in the second generation of Adam, most humans were so enslaved that they enjoyed and preferred ungodliness–obeying Satan rather than God. Cain murdered Abel despite the fact that God personally warned him. Look around today at selfishness that hurts other people and how other people hurt right back. Left to ourselves, we’ll wrap ungodliness around us and trudge to the grave weighed down by frustration and resentment.

Let’s not suppose that wrath, a deliberate and settled habit of anger, is incompatible with the love of God. The wrath of God in the Bible is not directed to people! God reveals it against ungodliness, which is destroying people he loves. By the power of his wrath, God destroys ungodliness and all the work of the devil. Where is the love? In the love of God, the wrath of God rescues people from the ungodliness that enslaves them.

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