Where’s the Wrath, Part Three
Unto the Pure All Things Are Pure
Basics of Life in Union with Christ Series
By Fred Pruitt
The scriptural portrayals of God as a “Wrathful God” or the “Angry Father,” etc., have long been difficult for many to reconcile with other portrayals of God’s true nature, such as Unconditional Love, Mercy and Grace. Some can find no reconciliation between the two “views” of God, and scrap one or the other – most often, obviously, being “the Wrathful God.” However, I am unable to scrap either. The reason, I trust, will become clearer to the reader as we go along.
“With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the forward* thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Psalm 18:25, 26). *(The dictionary defines “froward” as “willfully contrary.”)
“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:15)
While we are not independent, there is still a “place” in us that is, in a sense, “ours” alone. It is right here in this issue – which kind of person do I want to be? Now, it usually doesn’t come to us in such clear terms. More often it comes through the circumstances of life along with our interaction with other people. We’re all headed somewhere but outside God’s kingdom in our former lives, we often walked in an hypnotic daze, a spiritual stupor making us oblivious to ourselves and our world – no matter what we were doing.
It is the same stupor for peasants and kings alike. It is the veil over the sight of most of humanity, an opaque veil over everything, behind which is God, and behind God Who is behind the veil, are our true selves, having been “hidden in Christ in God,” awaiting this moment of discovery and revelation.
Now understand, if, in my former life (or even in this one), I was able get clear enough to see what the real issues are, so that I could consider and make the choice, I still would not have the “stuff” I would need to bring it all into being. If it comes down to a choice of two roads diverging in the yellow woods, making the right “choice” does not mean that I can become this person I want to be, no, God must do it!
We don’t know that in the beginning. We find that out later, because pretty much 100% of us think we might be able to pull it off in the beginning. We’re all like Simon Peter when he told Jesus he would NEVER betray Him! But of course, he did! Every one of us has to find that out. A tough but GOOD lesson. People take Jesus’ word to the sleeping Apostles in Gethsemane, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” as something of a challenge to take on. In their own minds, they hear “try harder,” and do not realize flesh (self-effort) cannot overcome flesh. Only Spirit can do that!
But if it comes from the Spirit, that desire will bring us all the way through, even though it may start out in our personal consciousness as something selfish. Everything from then on out is a result of that inner momentous transaction, and likewise we are “God’s will” expressed, in that choice, be it darkness or light.
Let’s look again at that passage, first – “With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure.” This is saying the exact same thing as Jesus’ word on the “single eye.” “If thine eye be single, then thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Luke 11:34-36). This is the “eye” as Jesus described it that sees only one thing – God! Over, under, beneath, above, in and through ALL! No matter what else may appear on the landscape, be it war, famine, pestilence, destroyed lives, selfish behavior – whatever it is – we see only God, because there is no other Power, no other Mind, no other Heart, ACTIVE in the universe, working all things after the counsel of His own Will, which is Love, or in William Law’s terms: God is “the eternal will to all goodness.” The disturbances in the foreground, which may come from “evil” being evil or the devil being the devil, cannot blind us to the God Who purposes every bit of it, down to the smallest, most minute detail, for the glory of the Redeemed! Nothing excepted!
We see them, the disturbances, and they stir us and sometimes we have to react. But we continue to penetrate further, to what is behind the temporal reality we see. What is “behind” the temporal reality, is, eventually, only God. The Son is the Word by which He created the cosmos and all that is in it. In a way I cannot fathom in my human reasoning mind, that the very fabric of the created universe consists of Him! In what way? How could that be?
“[HE] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” (Col 1:15-17).
Understand this – Satan does not run himself, which is why there is no reason to quake in front of him! He is not free to wreak havoc wherever and whenever he wants to. He may be self-deluded that he is in charge, but he is not. If in ANY SENSE, Satan has a “power” that the Lord God cannot thwart, swallow up, or transmute into righteousness, then Romans 8:28 falls to the ground as an ultimate sham, because God is promising something He apparently cannot deliver, if Satan is actually an “independent self,” doing his own thing in contradiction to God’s love.
The worst thing Satan ever engineered was the crucifixion of Jesus, because in so doing He established the Kingdom of God, instead of destroying it. But Jesus never gave in to the idea that the Cross had been Satan’s doing, even though it had been. On the night when they came to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter greatly protested Jesus’ arrest, and would’ve prevented it by violence if he could have.
But Jesus said to Peter: “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11). Jesus had called His upcoming task to be His Father’s cup in His multiple sessions of prayer in Gethsemane, each time coming to the same conclusion: “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” (Matt 26:42).
Jesus never acknowledged the activity of Satan in His passion. Satan truly had engineered it, from start to finish, but Jesus told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11). Yes, Satan had put the machinery together and worked out the details, nevertheless Jesus was delivered into their hands to be put to death, “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God!” (Acts 2:22-23).
“And with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.” This is the other side of the coin. In that inner determination to be for ourselves, whether by default or deliberate choice (and some do deliberately make that choice), we can then only see what we are and know, which is frowardness. It is perverseness, rebellion, scoffing, mocking and haughtiness. They see everyone outside of themselves as adversarial, out to get you, liars, cheats, greedy, etc. But all they are really doing is projecting onto others their own behaviors and attitudes. A person who steals is always worried someone is going to steal from him. A person who lies believes everyone else lies. No one gets more self-righteously angry than a liar does when called a liar.
When, “with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure,” overtakes us, everywhere we look we see the glory and purity of God. Conversely, when we walk in willful frowardness, we see hell everywhere, because that is what we are. We see and transmit outwardly whatever we are, not necessarily what our words or even deeds may say. If we are heaven within, that is what will come out of us ultimately. Likewise, if we are hell within, that also is what will come out of us.
The difference is, heaven will edify and make us ourselves, our true selves, which has always been hidden in Christ in God. Hell, on the other hand, only seeks to gobble us up. The Holy Spirit brings Christ in us to shine outwardly like the Sun in benevolence and blessing. However, if we are darkness within, the false spirit only seeks who it may trap and devour by us, like a black hole in space, that scientists say have such a strong inward gravitational pull, they trap Light! Light enters in, but never comes back out. But we’re not that, are we?
The same theme is picked up in Revelation 22: 11,12 –
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
This is “how” everything is worked according to the counsel of His own will. We say this because we want to be very clear and understood if possible. Everything there is, “lives and moves and has its being in God.” Paul told that to the “unbelieving” Athenians in Acts 17. There is no other “locale” in the universe, except the “existence,” the “be-ing” of God, Who is All in all, and being that “ALL,” He cannot be fully perceived by that which is only a “part.”
Therefore, we live in the “be-ing” (substance, reality, existence) of God, simply because there is no other “place” to be! We know Him either in Love or in Wrath. “Wrath” is not something He does to punish us, nor is it some divine emotion God “feels” about us. It is even less a fixed destiny, but if we do not know the Son, Whose Light and Love bring us into the same, then we can only see wrath. John says this in plain words: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn 3:36).
Understand, the “wrath,” which is felt in the inner being of the person and not in the Love of God, remains intact in this or that person, not for punishment, but that by the futility of that wrath we might come to a saving knowledge of the truth! The stirring of the wrath nature in us by the enemy, which is contrary to the purpose of our creation, is God’s mercy and grace, by which we might come to know Him in Spirit and in Truth.
The wrath I am meaning is the “wrath” of the unfulfilled creature, the wrath of never being able to have all that it wants to build itself for itself. If it could have the whole world, even the whole Milky Way, it would not be enough. There is no fulfillment of anything outside the Life of the Father. It is often called in scripture “the wrath of God,” but it is felt only in the creature who lives in the spirit of wrath, and not in the saints nor in God Himself as He Is Love.
So, of course, it is not the “uncontrollable rage” of God, boiling mad at us and the world for a million-gazillion sins and hot to bring us destruction because of it. The wrath is not punishment for our sins, but instead both the source of, and the result of, the sins in our souls and bodies, and darkness in our spirit. That is what “the wages of sin is death,” (Rom 6:23a), means, but the hope is that the death-life of sin and wrath leads to, “the gift of God [which] is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23b).
There is no wrath in God – He is only love. God Himself says that He does not see evil. (Hab 1:13). John says that in God there is no darkness at all (even though John also says “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” – [John 1:5]).
And yet, wrath is prevalent! What we must come to understand in all this, is that what “wrath” there is, is not in God, in His “God is Love” nature. It is “in” God, in the sense that creatures out of fellowship with Him can only know wrath in themselves, because through unbelief they are cut off from the only thing that cools the fires of self-loving self – The SON – the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” Jesus of Nazareth, Whom God has made, “both Lord and Christ.” (Acts: 2:36).
God’s purpose has never been about wrath and punishment. From the beginning, it has been a road that in the fullness of time eventually leads to that for which the whole creation has been in earnest travail since the first day of creation: the manifestation of the Sons of God! THE SON in the Sons!
The Cross was not to reconcile God, but to reconcile US! Jesus did not present an “Angry Father,” Who needed a Son to mollify His Father’s All-consuming anger. From the foundation of the earth we have been God’s heart, for which He has longed even as the father in the parable continually longed for his son to return from his prodigality, finally seeing him coming from afar off and running to greet and embrace him with tears and joy. Where was the anger and wrath in that father for the many “sins” his son had obviously committed? There was none!!!! Nor does he tell his son before he can be restored to full fellowship he has to confess everything and repent. Not at all! Here’s what happened:
“But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Lk 15:22-24). A Loving Father! A wise father! One doesn’t rebuke life from the dead, but rather gives thanks and celebrates!
END OF PART THREE
(In what I think will be the last of this series on “Wrath,” I’ll conclude next time with what we have yet to touch on – judgment!)