Tag Archives: anger

The Sound of Weeping

Depart from me, all you workers of evil, 
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. (Psalm 6:8 ESV)

Who are David’s foes? What have they done to make themselves his enemy? How has David’s enemies attacked him, causing him grief and agony? Those who rebel against God and His authority are David’s enemies. Those who reject the Son, refusing to kiss Him, are against him. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psalm 2:10-12 ESV). David’s enemies are those who fight against God by warring against those whom God has chosen as His own. Jesus’ enemies are those God created in His image, for service to Him, who He loves and blesses, but who refuse to obey and receive that which God offers. God’s enemies are His people.

Depart means to turn aside, to be removed, to take or put away, to come to an end. Workers of evil are those who actively cause trouble, wickedness, sorrow, who are idolaters. These are the people who teach those under their authority to actively rebel against God, to violate God’s laws and decrees, and to fight against their God given nature, becoming that which God does not intend. 

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  
The kings of the earth set themselves, 
and the rulers take counsel together, 
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart 
and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:1-3 ESV)

They persecute those who are God’s because they hate God. They do the opposite of what God wants. God will drive them away and they will perish because His Son, who wept over them when He saw Jerusalem, will finally stop mourning and judgment will come.

Jesus, in several places, exposes the hypocrisy of those who say they love God but do not act loving. He uses the analogy of a narrow door to show how impossible it is to follow the path of the world into God’s presence.“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24 ESV). The Master of the house will shut the door and though those outside beg and plead, suggesting they had done so much for the Master, He will send them away, rejecting their work as worthless, and turning them away. He will turn His back on them because they turned their backs on Him.“But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’”  (Luke 13:27 ESV, see Luke 13: 22-30).

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus teaches the characteristics of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Those who recognize the truth of sin, who realize the consequences of sin and who relinquish control to God, will do those things that identify them as citizens of His kingdom. Those who claim citizenship yet do not show the evidence of change may claim God’s approval, but will not receive His blessing.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Ultimately and eternally it is not whether the person says they know God but whether God knows them. God knows them because He is omniscient. He does not know them as a citizen because they are not, having refused His grace and command to obedience. In the thinking of their hearts they continue rebelling against Him.

God feels the greatest joy and the deepest sorrow. His Son felt the grief that came with being rejected by those He loves. His anger at the religious leaders boils over in the His proclamation against the Scribes and Pharisees who wield the authority of Moses (Matthew 23:2). Jesus warns the people against becoming like them because of their hypocrisy. The religious leaders want the people to look to them, even worship them, instead of God. They put heavy burdens on people, declaring it is God who wants His people burdened. They are like “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”  (Matthew 23:27-28 ESV). Jesus then laments over Jerusalem and the people He created in His image for relationship with Him.“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37 ESV). Jesus wants them to intimately know Him, as He cares for and loves them. They refuse. As He drew near Jerusalem that last week, His grief over the rebellion of His people distressed Him. He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). God hears the sound of His weeping. 

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Mercy

O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. (Psalm 6:1 ESV)

Scripture is filled with mystery. Perhaps the greatest spiritual mystery given us in Scripture is the eternal fact that God judicially covered the sins committed by His people against Him with the righteousness of His Son. How does God do this? Everything we do is bent by sin, the desire to control and be over God. We cannot know how He does what He does. We can know that He has covered us with Jesus’ righteousness because He tells us He has. Still, it does not make sense to our finite minds and corrupted logic.

This mystery captures the essence of God and of His Son. God reveals to us what He has done throughout Scripture. Isaiah tells us “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed”  (Isaiah 53:5 ESV). Paul continues Isaiah’s prophecy by declaring, “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). Jesus is the eternal Servant and ultimate Authority. The mystery of following Him encompasses our whole lives, our motivations, our words, our thinking and feelings. Jesus came in the likeness of human flesh (see Philippians 2:7-8) to ransom, which means to redeem and to liberate from a criminal sentence for crimes committed against God.

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28 ESV; see Mark 10:43-45)

In return for His righteousness we are made new and set apart for service and to have an intimate relationship with God.

This mystery is not cheap. God covering us with Jesus’ righteousness means God laid upon Him our sin. There are many illustrations of this truth but no one can know the depth of the cost and agony experienced by Jesus. We can imagine but must be careful in our imaginations. For we, as long as we are in this world, in this flesh, assaulted by the Deceiver, must rely upon the work of the Holy Spirit to know truth.

In the first verse of Psalm 6 we see a man begging for mercy. Our assumption is God’s wrath is justly exercised against the speaker because of their transgressions against His law and person. The writer of the Psalm was a sinful man. Yet, the writer of the Psalm is speaking for Jesus, who did not sin and lives in God’s eternal blessing. How then can Jesus beg for mercy? When God laid upon Him our sin He felt the full wrath of God. 

Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, knowing His executioners awaited Him. He did not deviate from His course or linger in places to avoid facing His responsibility. He ministered for many years before His final journey to Jerusalem. His intent was purposeful, drawing people to Himself and teaching them the meaning of citizenship in God’s eternal kingdom. Then, when the time was right, according to the eternal will of God, He faced His death, offering to God His body, the sacrifice for our sin.

Read the words of Psalm 6:1 as coming from a righteous Man bearing the unrighteousness of all men. Rebuke means to decide, reason, chide and reprove, to judge, convince and convict. Discipline means to chasten, admonish and correct, to teach. Anger means nose or nostril, or face, and wrath means fever, heat, burning rage. God’s face reflects His anger and judgment toward sin, which He hates. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”  (Psalm 5:4-5 ESV). Those who sin, who cannot stand before Him, are driven from His presence. God’s anger toward sin is characterized as a snorting, burning rage, justly executed against those who rebel against Him.

Jesus did not rebel against God but felt and experienced God rage against sin. Jesus is the only righteous person who has ever lived, refusing to walk in the way of the world, accept the lies of the Deceiver, or allow His own flesh to tempt Him and move Him to rebellion. Hanging on the cross, He endured the just wrath of God against sin. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46 ESV; see Mark 15:34). Jesus was for a brief time, forsaken by God. This does not mean Jesus sinned, for He could not sin. Jesus is God in the flesh.

Jesus’ purpose for coming as a man was to take upon Himself the sins of man to bring people back into relationship with God. Peter also declares his understanding of why Messiah came as a man. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”  (1 Peter 2:24 ESV). 

When Jesus took upon Himself our sin, He was, is and will always remain, sinless. He is eternally righteous. God, when He saw Jesus on the cross, saw His Son covered with our sin. Jesus bore the burden of the sentence for sin. Conversely, when God looks at the Christian, those who are in Christ, He sees the blood of Christ covering them, hiding the obvious sin they carry in their whole being. We are no more righteous than He is a sinner. What God declares He sees, because of the sacrifice of His Son, is Christ’s righteousness covering us as a cloak, a shield, surrounding us as a hedge and impenetrable wall, a refuge. He leaves us in this world to prepare us for eternity. While in the world, those who are His are safely held for eternity.

Motivation and Intent

Our thoughts, words and actions germinate and grow in the soil of our motivations watered and fed by intent. By intent I mean that which drives a person toward an object of desire or perceived need. Intent is the active agent between our motivations and what actually happens, what we actually do. Intent and motivation are so closely related one may easily be lost in the other. Motive is deeper, abiding, while intent can change direction dependent upon circumstances, maybe the appearance of something more desirable. Intent is fickle. Motive is revealing.

Discover that which motivates you and you will discover identity. Focus upon intent, the evidence of what you do, and you will show others who you are. Jesus hits hard the intent of the thinking of the heart. “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” [Matthew 5:22 ESV]. Here, anger means to provoke to rage or to become exasperated with the object of your wrath. It is unjustified anger toward someone who is not meeting your personal expectations in a timely manner. Your expectations are your standards arbitrarily placed upon another. No one will ever completely meet your expectations no matter how long or short a time you give them.

Jesus does not exclude all anger. God gave us the emotion of anger as part of His image. He knows anger. His anger is justifiable. Unless we conform to the likeness of His Son our anger is unreasonable, an excuse to gain control over what He has created and owns.

We do not determine our own motivation. We discover the motivations God has given to each unique person. He created us individually to serve him. His image in us powers our motivation to love and serve Him by loving and serving those around us, with whom we come in contact. Sin did not destroy the image of God in us but corrupted it, bending us and our motivations away from God. As we honestly see ourselves before Him and discover the corruption of our deepest self we come to recognize our motivations are opposite His, bent away from Him. That which motivates us is rebellion against Him.

We cannot determine our innate motivation. We can and do determine the intent of the thinking of our hearts.  How we put action to our motivations, what we focus on and strive for, is something we do control. Our words and actions reveal the intent of the thinking of our hearts to God and others.

But God changes those who belong to Him, recreates them and gives them a new heart with new motivations. Anything we focus upon, which does not come from our new, recreated, eternal relationship with Him springs from, not God, but the sin which still seeks to own us. Relinquishing control of our self to the sinless God changes everything. Theoretically, we cease to foist our expectations upon others because we no longer have personal expectations. We have only God’s eternal standards against which we measure ourselves and others. When our anger arises it is because God’s standard and law has been violated not because our expectations have not been met. Our anger is a flag which tells us either we are doing something wrong, rebelling against Him, or someone around us is rebelling against Him. Those who are His are motivated to by truth, justice and righteousness, goodness and holiness, the intent of their hearts striving to know God both intellectually and intimately.

What self-righteous audacity we have when we are angry with others and with God based upon our own unrighteous and therefore unreasonable expectations. His statement in Matthew 5:22 is not hyperbole. Our unjustified anger brings His judgment. No one has the right to judge any action or word against any other standard than God’s. Such an action wrestles control away from Him. How can anyone who says they belong to Him then turn and impose their personal standard upon Him and those He has created.

Those who are His do have the responsibility, even the deep motivation, to expose sin. Our place in this world, why God has left us here, is  a witness for Him and against the world. Our presence exposes sin and shines truth, justice and righteousness, goodness and holiness, the character of God to a godless world.

But that is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. [Ephesians 4:20-27 ESV]

Who is in Control?

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. [Matthew 5:21-22 ESV]

From where does murderous intent come? Does not such intent begin with the imagining of unreasonable expectations which becomes a demand, a law the person requires of others? In the Hebrew Scripture the first sin recorded was not murder. In fact, God does not list all of the sins Adam and Eve committed before Cain was born. God never give a litany of a person’s sins. He reveals some but mostly He documents that they sinned.

After Cain, the first born, and Abel offer their sacrifice God comes to Cain and speaks with him and warns him about the battle raging within his heart. Cain wanted to worship God the way Cain wanted to worship, not the way God wanted. It was not the actual act of worship God spoke to Cain about but the intent of his heart. “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?” [Genesis 4:6 ESV]. Cain was angry. God had not met his expectations. This is because, even without knowing Cain’s exact expectations, we can suggest they were unreasonable.

Cain carried his emotion in an obvious way. However, no one else saw Cain’s struggle but God and He see everything. Perhaps, Cain had not yet learned to hide his emotions from himself. Before this would happen Cain had to train himself to allow his anger to control his expectations. He excused his sinful thoughts and unrealistic emotions which were contrary to what God had originally designed. He was made in the image of God but carried the bent to sin. God gave him his image. His parents gave him, and all who follow him, the bent toward sin. Sin is an unnatural inheritance. We all have this bent but we all struggle against it because of the natural godly image within our being. God wants control. So does sin. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” [Genesis 4:7 ESV].

Cain chose to allow sin to control his life. Could he have chosen differently?

Here is a conundrum faced by all Christians. God holds us responsible for our sins even though we can identify sin as an unnatural inheritance, a controlling force in our lives, coming down from Adam and Eve to everyone who has ever lived. Except Christ. We have been taught we have no choice but to sin. We have been taught everything we do is sin. We have also been told Christ covered our sin with His righteousness so we are no longer under God’s judgment for sin. But we still sin while we have been taught God expects holiness and righteousness from us. It is impossible for us to reconcile the two positions. They are in conflict.

God told Cain he must control sin by ruling over it so it would not control him. Does He not tell us the same thing? Sin wants us. We must recognize the assault of sin and steadfastly fight to not allow sin control over us. We do not belong to sin but to God. Sin owned us but He bought us back with the eternal price of Christ’s blood. Our fight begins, not with sin but within ourselves. God never lost His fight with sin. We must be willing to allow God to show us what is truly happening within ourselves. We must honestly confront ourselves and the sin which assaults us, recognizing it as sin and not excusing it as natural and expected.

Sin began outside of us, has become an integral though unnatural part of us, and God has given us the tools, strength and grace to combat it. But first we must recognize our own powerlessness and His power in us. James addresses our conundrum.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for ought when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. [James 1:12-15 ESV]