The Lord gets angry (Psalm 7:11). Still, people must not equate the anger of God with the human emotion of anger. Ephesians 4:26-27 tells Bible readers it is possible to experience anger but not sin. The Lord cannot sin, and so His anger, unlike our experience of anger, is righteous (James 1:20).
The Anger of God and the Character of God
The Lord gets angry when people sin because it is a violation of His character. The Lord is just, holy, and righteous, and none of these attributes can be compromised (Exodus 20:4-6; Isaiah 42:8). The Lord was angry with the nation of Israel and with Israel’s kings every time they turned away from him (1 Kings 11:9-10; 2 Kings 17:18).
Canaan’s wicked practices, such as child sacrifice and sexual perversion, aroused the anger of God, so He sent Israel to destroy them entirely to remove wickedness from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1-6). God’s anger is directed at what would harm His people and their relationship with Him (Ezekiel 33:11).
Jesus got angry with the religious leaders and teachers of His day for using religion for their gain and keeping people in bondage (John 2:13-16; Mark 3:4-6). Romans 1:18 teaches that the anger or wrath of God comes against “the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
The Lord gets angry at the wickedness in people, and He opposed that wickedness to help them turn from evil that they might find hope in Him. Even in the anger of God, His motivation is love for people to see them reconciled to Him.
Those who have believed in Jesus are no longer under the wrath of God because Jesus experienced the full weight and fury of God the Father at the cross. Jesus’ death satisfied the wrath of God. Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-4).
Two Flaws in Getting Angry at God
Being angry at God is something that both Christians and non-Christians have experienced. When we get angry with God, is not so much, “Why God?” but, “Why me, God?” This reveals two flaws in our thinking.
As Christians, we often operate under the idea that life should be easy and that the Lord should prevent tragedy in our lives. Second, when we do not understand the extent of God’s sovereignty, we lose confidence in His ability to control every circumstance of our lives.
Then we get angry because it seems He has lost control of the universe. When this happens, we easily blame all things on the Lord and get angry with Him for preventing it, revealing the first flaw in our thinking that we deserve to be immune from all circumstances of our lives.
What we need to understand is that the Lord is in control of all Creation. Everything that happens is either caused or allowed by the Lord. In Matthew 10:29-31, not even a sparrow falls to the ground nor a hair from our head without the Lord knowing it.
Christians might complain or blame God for what is happening in their lives, but if they trust Him and give their pain to Him, He can and will grant them peace. We might be angry at God for many reasons, but we have to accept that the Lord is in control of all of history and our personal history.
The Help of the Sovereignty of God
The sovereignty of God helps Christians, not hinders them. When we see our difficulty in the light of the Word of God, we discover Scripture teaches God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). The Lord has a perfect plan and purpose, which cannot be thwarted (Isaiah 14:24; 46:9-10).
Job reminds us that “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7) and that life is short and “full of trouble (Job 14:1). Just because we turn to Jesus for salvation from sin does not mean we are guaranteed a life free from problems.
Jesus said in John 1:33, “in this world, you will have trouble,” but He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus enables the people of God to have peace despite the storms that rage around them (John 14:27).
The Problem with Sinful Anger
Inappropriate anger is a sin (Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:26-27, 31; Colossians 3:8). Ungodly anger gives the devil a foothold and can destroy the peace and joy of the people of God if they hang onto it. Further holding onto anger will only allow resentment to grow in our hearts.
Christians must confess their anger to the Lord. Then, in confessing our anger to the Lord, we can bring it to Him in prayer. The Lord knows our hearts and that we may try to hide how we genuinely feel.
Talking with the Lord about how we feel is critical to handle our anger or grief. If we do so humbly, pouring out our hearts to the Lord, He will work in His people to make them more like Himself.
Every Christian can trust the Lord. The Lord is compassionate, full of grace and love. As Christians, we can entrust our lives to the Lord.
When difficulties happen, the Lord uses them to draw the people of God closer to Himself to strengthen our faith and bring them to maturity (Psalm 34:18; James 1:2-4). Then, Christians can be a comforting presence to others and point them to Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Anger at the Lord results from an inability or unwillingness to trust the Lord even when we don’t understand what He is doing. Anger at the Lord is telling God that He has done something wrong, which He never has.
The Lord understands why we get angry and knows how painful and challenging life can be. Instead of staying angry with the Lord, trust Him, and pour out your heart to Him in prayer, trusting that He is in control of all things, including your pain.
The Cross of Christ and Your Anger
At the Cross, Jesus satisfied the wrath of God against sinners (Romans 3:21-25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Jesus, at Calvary, offered Himself as an atoning sacrifice removing our guilt and turning the Father’s wrath away from sinners.
Sadly, God’s wrath is a foreign concept today to many in the American church who minimize God’s justice and wrath. If the Lord does not get angry at sin, there is no way for Christians to affirm the other biblical teachings about Christ’s righteousness and God’s goodness and holiness. If the Lord is not wrathful toward the unsaved, then the previously mentioned traits of God’s character are hollow.
The only way to understand the rightness or wrongness of human anger is found in the light of the Lord’s anger. In affirming that the Lord gets angry, we must not ascribe our imperfections to the Creator.
The Lord’s anger is never irritation, but ours can be. The Lord is not prone to fly off the handle or have a fit of rage. The Lord further never tires, nor gets irritable. The anger of God is always righteous because He is always righteous (Psalm 97:6).
Christians can sometimes think the Lord is out to get them. While our sin as Christians will incur the displeasure and discipline of God (Hebrews 12:3-11), the Lord Jesus has made propitiation for all who trust in Him alone for salvation. God’s wrath then is not upon the Christian.
If you’ve not yet trusted in the finished and sufficient work of Jesus, do not think that the Father’s patience towards you means that He is not angry with you. Please repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus because He, alone, is your only hope to avert the anger of God the Father.
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Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOG, Instagram, read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign to receive his newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.