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Righteous Indignation
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalms 137:2-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This describes the bitterness of exile into which God forced Judah. Have we ever felt this way? Have we sighed and cried for the abominations of the church? That is what the Judeans who really learned the lesson of the exile did. It absolutely broke them down. They had to sit down and weep.

There is something to exile, to scattering, that God finds very good. It is not all grief. We know that God does nothing that is not for our good—either immediately or ultimately. One of the results of exile, if a person responds to it, is repentance, which is what God is looking for.

He wants our grief to be turned, as Paul says (II Corinthians 7:8-11), into zeal, into putting our whole hearts into our sorrow and then into the fruit that can be built from it. He wants us to get angry that we allowed things to go so far and to clear it out. Anger can be used to scour away sin, to be righteously indignant. We can use it like Drano® to clear the pipes and then direct that zeal to become righteous and holy once again, to do the things that God commands.

God will do whatever it takes to get us on the same page with Him, and if it means turning our lives upside down, turning us inside out, He will do it because He loves us. He still has us in the palm of His hand. We are still the apple of His eye, but He is not like a modern liberal who will not punish. He is a God who knows how to produce sons and daughters, and sometimes the worst punishments produce the best results. If He thinks the punished person will cooperate and learn the lesson, God is willing to take it that far.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How to Survive Exile


 

Proverbs 15:18  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Hostility seems to be a hallmark of this church age in a similar way that road-rage is to the world. It is alright for us to be righteously indignant as long as we do not sin. There is a place for righteous indignation, but God does not permit much anger because it is difficult not to sin when angry. That kind of anger is a "mark of the beast."

Frequently, hostility is simply a denial of reality. People do not have tempers born in them; angry tempers begin to be created in childhood. Parents allow tempers to burst forth, and each time it happens, it becomes easier—and the next time and the next and on and on until it is ingrained in the personality.

Anger is nothing more than a passionate response to some sort of stimuli, and it is almost always a self-centered response. It usually begins when we believe that what should or should not have happened either did or did not, and conflict arises. We can believe, either strongly or weakly, it should or should not have happened. Therefore, anger can be either strong or weak or anywhere in between.

The reality is this: What happened happened. How will anger help the problem? Satan believes that it does because he wants to control, to win, to compete, to devour, to get the upper hand, to triumph. Do we really need the anger to drive us to manipulate or to punish? Why not just start working on a solution without the anger, knowing full well that the anger will likely create sin and cause additional damage to the relationship? In a way, it is all very logical, but our feelings get in the way.

Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." The first clause can be paraphrased, "There is a way that man thinks things should be." This is where conflict arises: Two people see things differently. The question is, then, who is to say that it should be the way we see it?

Things happen because laws are broken, and whatever we sow we reap. Sometimes we get caught in other peoples' ignorance and stupidity. This is a fact of everybody's life, even to God in the flesh. He got caught in the ignorance and stupidity of His fellow Israelites in Judea, and it cost Him His life—yet He did not get angry. What an example! What an example of control. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

How far did He go to make peace? To the death. Even when the other person was totally, absolutely, completely wrong, He did not go to war against him.

The problem with anger arises when we turn our feelings and drives to set things right, as we see them, into absolute necessities. We feel it must be our way, but the reality is that others have the same rights from God that we have. Everyone has free moral agency. Anger arises because of the way we judge things: We apply the standard that we hold as being the right one.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Mark 3:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Consider why Christ became angry. In all four Gospels, all the epistles of Paul, in the entire New Testament, there is no record that our role model, Jesus Christ, ever once became angry because of what people did to Him. His anger arose because of hard-headedness, because of the rejection of the truth of God.

He became angry at another time, shown in John 2, when He found them selling things in the Temple. He turned the tables over and chased the animals out of the area. Even on this occasion, it was accounted by those who wrote the Bible as "zeal" not anger. He was angry because they turned the house of prayer into a place of merchandise.

He did not become angry because of what people said to Him, about Him, or did to or against Him. Yet we find in the church people becoming offended and angry over things that are insignificant to salvation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

 



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