The Sin of Wrath
Romans 12:19 We live in a very angry — or dare I say, wrathful — age
The third item on the list of seven deadly sins is wrath. It’s kind of an odd word these days; you don’t hear many people using wrath in day-to-day conversation. The dictionary has two definitions for the word:
strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation; ire.
vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.
Many times in the Bible, wrath is used to describe God’s anger with the ungodly and unrighteous. He’s not only angry with those who refuse to believe in Him, but with humans who are believers yet refuse to follow His law.
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Anglican theologian John Stott referred to God’s wrath as “His steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising antagonism to evil in all its forms and manifestations.”1
There’s a lot we know about God’s wrath from reading the Bible — He’s slow to anger, His anger is not like our anger, His wrath is provoked and a response to evil, His wrath is revealed by Him giving up on those who sin and do not repent, He is storing up His wrath for the Day of Wrath, and His wrath is on sinners.
We also know that His wrath toward sin was poured out on Jesus, who became the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25).
The sin of wrath is an entirely different thing from God’s wrath. Human wrath is displayed when we exhibit an enraged sinful nature. It’s always inexcusable of us. We should not allow anger to display itself in our lives… but we do, and it is a sin.
Throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we can find numerous warnings against the sin of wrath. Here are just a few:
“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.”
Proverbs 29:11 NASB1995
“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.”
Psalms 37:8 NASB1995
“for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
James 1:20 NASB1995
“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Matthew 26:52 NASB1995
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Ephesians 4:31 NASB1995
“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
Colossians 3:8 NASB1995
We live in a very angry — or dare I say, wrathful — age. It is so common to have someone lose total control over the slightest little provocation. Another writer I follow for his political writing brought up a perfect example of this uncontrolled anger in one of his recent Substack posts:
Barb was at the receiving end of a totally unnecessary expletive on an airline flight this past Saturday when she politely asked someone in her row of seats to raise the window blind so she could see outside. I’m sure we’ve all been the target of raised middle fingers from other drivers, or even worse, have been those who yelled or made gestures at others for doing something we thought was stupid or dangerous.
All humans are flawed, and we are bound to be mistreated by other people frequently. Our natural reaction — our animal reaction — is to angered by this mistreatment. As Christians, we need to avoid becoming a slave to our emotions and respond as God commands us to — in a loving, rational, and calm manner.
It’s so hard to do, but we need to remember that God will judge all and serve justice on those who “trespass against us.” Let God’s wrath take care of retribution, not your anger.
“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
Romans 12:19 NASB1995
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father in Heaven, there have been many times when I have been hurt by others who seek to harm me or those I love. I confess that at times I want to pay them back for their mistreatment of me by demonstrating physical or verbal anger. But I know, Lord, that You have called me to turn the other cheek, to pray for these people, even feed them if they are hungry. I also know that You have promised to avenge those who have hurt me, and I thank You for that day when You will bring justice. I pray that my actions and the words of my mouth bring honor to You and blessing to those I meet. In Jesus Holy name I pray, AMEN.
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 171, InterVarsity Press, 2006.