Passive and Active Wrath

When I was a kid, some friends and I found a very large firecracker of some kind at a buddy’s house. To us, it was like a stick of dynamite. We simply had to go blow something up.

After debating what we would blow up, a group of us hoodlum boys decided that we would blow up the mailbox of a mean old man in the neighborhood. Like a pack of ninjas, we snuck up to his mailbox, opened the door, placed the explosive inside, lit the wick, slammed the door shut, and ran for our lives.

But… nothing happened. We waited for what seemed like an eternity, but there was no explosion. Unsure what to do, we started daring one another to go open the mailbox. Finally, the bravest/dumbest among us carefully approached the mailbox and slowly opened the door. At that instant, there was a massive explosion that sent him recoiling in terror.

We wrongly misinterpreted the silence as a dud, not a delay. The wrath of God is sometimes like that firework. John 3:36 speaks of God’s wrath saying, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

God’s wrath exists in both passive and active forms.

God’s passive wrath is when He lets us go do what we want to do, much like what Jesus told Judas at the Last Supper. When God stops trying to turn you around and lets you go do whatever your sinful heart desires, that is the passive wrath of God. Romans 1:18 says that “the wrath of God is being revealed” How? Romans 1:24 and 26 say that, “God gave them over” to do whatever they wanted. Some people think that God does not exist or that God does not care because they freely do whatever they want while He does nothing to stop them. That is the passive wrath of God that continues until the day of God’s active wrath.

God’s active wrath is when God pours out the total and complete justice that He has been storing up. Unrepentant sinners are not getting away with anything, but rather storing up everything. Romans 2:5 says, “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”

What Jesus has done for us is often called the Good News. Jesus enduring God’s wrath for you on the cross is indeed Good News! When you realize that you are saved by God, saved to God, and saved from God’s wrath, a love and appreciation for Jesus should be the wholehearted response forever.

How grateful are you to Jesus for enduring the wrath that you deserve? Spend a bit of time today in prayer thinking about your sins and thanking Jesus for His sacrifice.

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