Ambassador of Reconciliation
7/4/14 at 11:38 PM 81 Comments

Does God Have a Split Personality?

text size A A A

Some friends and I are doing a summer Bible study in the book of Revelation, and this week we were talking about the wrath of God in chapter 14. The image there is one of severe judgment:

If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name…. The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes, and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia [about 180 miles] (14:19-20).

Later in Revelation, seven bowls of God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth. These are terrifying pictures of what God will do to His enemies!

Do the descriptions of God’s wrath represent one personality, while the descriptions of His love show another, very different one? Sometimes it seems that God has two opposite natures: On the one hand, He can be abundantly compassionate and forgiving, even going to the extreme of sacrificing His own Son. He lavishes love on His children and tenderly cares for them. On the other hand, He can be exceedingly wrathful, not only toward His enemies, but even toward His own children. In fact, it’s not hard to see why some have maintained that the God of the Old Testament is different in character from the God of the New Testament.

So does God have a split personality? Certainly human beings can manifest different personalities in their actions: Sometimes we react in anger, with no love whatsoever. And sometimes we display a mushy love, with no regard for righteousness. But God does not switch from one personality to another. He is not schizophrenic! Everything God does springs from the totality of who He is. All of His actions reflect His character as a whole.

God never does anything that would violate any part of His character. God is righteous; He can do nothing unrighteous. God is holy; He can do nothing unholy. God is just; He can do nothing unjust. God is love; He can do nothing unloving. All of God’s actions are consistent with all of His attributes.

The supreme example of God acting from the fullness of His nature is the cross. There He displayed His extreme wrath against sin, along with His extreme love for those Jesus died for. The cross is the perfect expression of who God is.

Both God’s wrath and His love are present in their fullness in the cross. But the cross is not unique in that sense. Though it’s often difficult to discern, everything God does expresses all that He is. So whenever you see the wrath of God at work, be assured that He is also exercising His love. Even His most severe judgment has a good and loving purpose. As William Cowper wrote in his hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).