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Q227 : Does God Ever Become Angry with Believers?

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Q227 : Does God Ever Become Angry with Believers?

I have a question for you regarding something my pastor continually says from the pulpit. He says "God is not angry with you, He loves you." This has become his "mantra" per-se to our congregation over the last 18 months and I don't hear anything from the pulpit regarding our walk with God if we are disobedient.

I know as New Testament Believers we are not under His wrath but does He get angry with us if we are disobedient? He did with Israel and Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the LORD, I change not."

I would really like to know if his statement is accurate and most of all, biblical.

A227 : by Tony Garland

The New Testament does not have a great deal to say specifically regarding God's anger toward believers when they are disobedient. Most of the New Testament teaching in relation to God's anger concerns His wrath upon the ungodly (e.g., John 3:36). As you observe, God's wrath does not abide upon those who have responded in faith and believe in His Son. Nor are they appointed for wrath, either in the tribulation to come or in the day of judgment.

By way of contrast, there are many passages in the Old Testament which indicate that God exhibits righteous anger when His people are disobedient.

In Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple, he intercedes for those who sin against God eliciting His anger: “for there is no one who does not sin . . . and You become angry with them” (1K. 8:46).

Some may wonder whether this prayer applies to those who truly know God (as opposed to unbelievers) but every indication is that it does: (1) the passage mentions their subsequent obedience; (2) a few chapters later we find Solomon himself as the object of God's anger “because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel” (1K. 11:9). Solomon knew God, but his disobedience resulted in God's anger.

Other passages indicate that God's anger was aroused against Aaron (Deu. 9:20) and Moses (Deu. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21). Like Solomon, these two individuals were not just members of the covenant nation, Israel, but true believers in the God of Israel. Just like us, there were lapses in their obedience resulting in God's anger toward them.

The Psalms also indicate that God can be angry “against the prayer of Your people” (Ps. 80:4).

Some may object that these are Old Testament passages and need not apply to believers today. Although there is clearly a distinction between Israel (in the Old Testament) and the Church (in the New Testament), unless Scripture itself says otherwise, we must assumed that principles from the Old Testament carry over into the New. This would seem to include God's response to disobedient believers. After all, the writer of Hebrews warns his New Testament readers by way of the Old Testament example of the generation of Israelites who fell in the wilderness in the days of Moses (Heb. 3:10,17; 4:3,13). At least some of those who experienced God's anger and were prevented from entering the promised land we likely believers like Aaron and Moses.

I don't see any New Testament principle that would preclude God from having righteous anger toward believers when they persist in disobedience. His anger does not negate His unconditional love or our security in salvation. I don't see any reason why, in the New Testament, God would not experiences righteous anger in situations when He chastens us, just like in the Old Testament (Heb. 12:5-11).

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