In “the wrath of an impartial judge” Jefferson Vann reacts to an unwelcome guest in a virtual worship service.
“(3) Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? (4) Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (5) But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (6) He will render to each one according to his works: (7) to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; (8) but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (9) There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, (10) but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. (11) For God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:3-11 ESV).
hacked and attacked!
I was so grateful that my day off from work fell on a Sunday. I had the chance to join my wife and the local congregation in another “virtual” service. Since the coronavirus has disrupted our lives, our church has been meeting online. It gives us a chance to “meet” together without risking contaminating each other or being infected.
But today we were infected by something we didn’t count on. A hacker broke into our service and posted a pornographic video! That brought the service to a halt for a few minutes while we stopped everything and started the service over without the unwelcome guest.
Our pastor handled the interruption well, even praying for our hacker, as she pointed out that people who do such things have unresolved needs in their own lives, so we should be careful not to judge them too harshly.
I have shared on the subject of the wrath of God a number of times before. What I want to emphasize today is the fact that God is the judge, and his judgment day is not happening yet. So, we will often encounter situations which prompt us to retaliate against our attackers. Godly wisdom learns to let the impartial judge handle those situations.
Well — I hear myself saying, should we just let them get away with it? Nobody gets away with anything. The good thing about believing in the coming judgment day is knowing that every wrong will be addressed by God as the impartial judge.
Paul taught in Romans 1 that those who will eventually experience God’s wrath on judgment day have a number of tells which show that they are destined for that wrath. These tells are not the wrath itself, but evidences in their lives that they will suffer that wrath in the future. The tells include:
- sexual immorality (1:24)
- idolatry (1:25)
- homosexuality and lesbianism (1:26-27)
- a depraved mind (1:28)
- every kind of unrighteousness (1:29-32)
The tells do not mean that God is already condemning everyone who dies to an eternity of suffering. They are indications that a day of wrath is coming in which God will condemn everyone who is not saved. But instead of the wrath of God, we are all now experiencing his “kindness, forbearance, and patience” (2:4) because he wants us all to repent so that we never have to experience that coming wrath!
Those who live the immoral lifestyle described in Romans 1 are not presently in hell, but their open sinful rebellion against God indicate that they deserve God’s wrath when it comes.
Those who refuse to repent are not experiencing God’s wrath — they are storing up God’s wrath to be experienced. But Paul does not say that it will be experienced at death. He says it will be experienced “in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous condemnation is going to be revealed!”
Since God’s judgment day is coming, our best approach when we are rudely interrupted by unrighteousness — even in church — is to love and forgive. That is not easy, especially when you feel violated by those acts of unrighteousness. But learning to love and forgive instead of retaliate is one of the things God expects of his children. After all, our Saviour on the cross prayed for those who were murdering him.
And just maybe — our refusal to return evil for evil might result in another sinner coming to Christ. His blood is enough to cover the worst sins. It can certainly cleanse today’s hacker.
For more on the day of wrath, see: