I was listening to Christian talk radio not too long ago and something a caller said caught my attention: “God must be furious right now and I hate to think what’s going to happen as a result.” He was bemoaning some evil the government had perpetrated and felt that God had become enraged over it (just as he had).
God is indeed angry at sin but His anger is not impulsive; rather, it’s an abiding hatred of sin. It’s a settled righteous wrath against sin. The fact is that God doesn’t become furious over things as if he were a mere man. He doesn’t get angry or fly off the handle. His wrath is not arbitrary or capricious. We ought not to think of God getting angry like we do. In fact, when we think that way, we are guilty of making God in our own image. We project our feelings and emotions onto him – and that act in itself is sin on our part.
Let me elaborate. To say we make God in our own image is to say we engage in idolatry. That’s why this issue is so serious. When Paul confronted the Athenians with their idolatry he explained, “. . . we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:29-30). Note the key phrase: God is not shaped by man’s devising. That avowal is true whether the devising is physical, emotional, conceptual, mental, spiritual, etc. And, God commands us to repent: to turn from our idolatry. God commands us to stop projecting our feelings, emotions, desires, and so much more onto Him. Rather, we need to bring our feelings, emotions, and desires in conformity to His.
As those who teach others, we have to be careful not to equate our feelings or emotions about something with God’s. Often, our demeanor or tone is not only sinful, but we communicate to others that it’s okay for them to feel the same way. But worse than that error, we convey to them that God feels the same way. And in that case, we have not only put across something wrong about God but we have then taught the people to project their feelings onto God. In other words, we have led them into idolatry.
It’s interesting that when Aaron made the golden calf he told the people it represented God and then declared a feast to the Lord. Of course, God’s comment was that they had corrupted themselves and He was ready to consume them. Not good, to say the least. I think the point is clear: don’t make God in your image.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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