Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Judgment (God's Anger, Our Fear)

Lower center of the The Last Judgement by Mich...

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Indignation is anger based on the unworthiness of the object of displeasure.  In the spiritual realm God indignation is roused by sin in our lives.  To be sure God is loving, compassionate, slow to anger, merciful, and gracious.  However His indignation cannot be quenched forever.  This is especially true when we (His children) do not make the decision to remove those things that are evil from our lives.

The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.
Job 28:28 (HCSB)

Fear and anger are kin emotions.  One leads to attack the other to running away.  We trample on the sovereignty of God in our modern sensibility.  We exchange the truth "there is none righteous no not one" (Ps 14:1-3; Rom 3:10-12) for the lie "men are basically good."  What is even more astounding is that it is a senseless lie.  Just open your eyes to see that evil is alive and well in human activity.  Listen with your ears to hear heart wrenching stories of the defenseless falling pray to evil.  What then can we say?  Often we will push the evil away by declaring it to be some form of psychopathology.  "Bad people have bad brains" has become the new form of "The devil made me do it."  Well if that is the case then we all have bad brains to one degree or another.  Does that excuse evil then?  Certainly not.  Yet what about our sense of justice.  Can we legitimately hold a person that has killed multiple times accountable if he has a "bad brain"? 

My take is this, that we would find differences in the brain of a person who is a serial killer is not particularly surprising.  Not anymore surprising than say finding out that a musicians brain is different from the norm.  You see our brain is a collection of learning experiences.  A serial killer has unique experiences from the rest of the population.  One would expect that there would be a difference.  Defining evil in terms of faulty biology though is really dangerous.  It may be hard for us to empathize with a serial killer, so what about an adulterer, drunkard, thief, liar,  gossip, and so on.  What if some day we discover they all have "bad brains" as well.  Does it make them any less culpable for their sin?

My point is this.  Righteous indignation is rooted in God's righteousness.  God has provided a standard for living in the conscience of all of us.  Every day our conscience convicts us regarding moral issues.  This conscience can become so seared from repeated violations that it loses its effect, yet it stands in conviction of our selves.  We are self-condemned with regard to morality.  Further, God's standard for living is also recorded in the Bible.  I would focus in particular to the section found in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  In these three chapters we find a life long work to achieve the righteousness of God.  Yet even if that were possible to achieve you would have no way to erase the mistakes that you have already made up to this point. 

Justice demands payment for wrong doing.  It is embedded in the very consciousness of our mind.  Certainly our sense of justice can be distorted, but we do not tolerate well when that sense of justice has been violated.  We become indignant and demand our rights or the rights of others be up held.  We demand that perpetrators be brought to justice.  The criminal offences be punished and civil offences lead to restitution.   If we in our feeble ways and imperfection can demand justice then how arrogant is it to suppose that God in is almighty ways and in his perfection is some how evil when he judges? 

Fear God indeed.  We ought to pay attention.  The righteous anger of God is being stored up against the ungodly and unrepentant.  We too ought to be gravely offended when we see the justice of God being perverted whether within the church or outside.  Anger is purifying if it is according the the righteousness and justice of God.  This is fiery rhetoric to be sure, but God's anger is a consuming fire. 

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