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Sadly, righteous indignation is one of the invaluable pieces of American culture that seems to have disappeared.
As I consider where it may have gone, I remember that sometimes in order to find something, it helps to backtrack your steps.
From apathy to degradation
I really dislike talking about how “it used to be” but sometimes it helps to explain where we are: Especially for younger people who have never experienced better ways.
“Postmodernism”, the removal of prayer / God from school, the embracing of baby murder, communism, emasculation, feminism, the “sexual revolution”, etc., etc., etc., have all accomplished a great deal in the shaping of the current American culture; all in a bad way.
Of course, as I have mentioned before, it is my view that many of America’s problems are the result of apathetic Christians who have failed to fulfill the covenant that they made with God which included sharing the Gospel and making disciples (among other things).
Regarding the people of God, Yeshua said In Matthew 5:13:
You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, How shall the earth be salted? It is therefor good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Love: The greatest commandment: Is it only tender compassion?
To me, any discussion about righteous indignation is incomplete without at least mentioning love. The Bible is a book of love. Yeshua said that the greatest commandment is to love.
However, most people limit their view of love to the idea of tender compassion, being considerate, putting the needs and comfort of another above their own. However, there is another side of the love coin.
Should love always be expressed as tenderness and consideration?
Part of the problem with all of this is American mainstream religion has taught that love should always be expressed as tenderness. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Surely tender love should be our preference; our default, our “go to”, and “modus operandi”.
However, there are some cases in which passivity and quietness is more of an expression of hate than love.
What if you were walking down the street with your 4th-grade child and a 10th grader walked up and began assaulting your child? Would it be love to allow the assault to continue? Of course not. In that case, the parent would neither be expressing love toward their child nor the young assailant who would need to learn that, that behavior is unacceptable.
What if the 10th grader began fighting you? What if some of the 10th grader’s friends came over and they all began assaulting you. Would THAT make your involvement wrong?
What if the combined assault against you escalated to such a degree that you were experiencing serious bodily injury and you had to resort to drastic measures to protect yourself? Would THAT make your involvement wrong? Absolutely not.
Righteous behavior is righteous regardless of
how unrighteousness responds to it.
Biblical righteous indignation
Biblically, indignation is the idea of wrath, fierceness, passion. So then “righteousness indignation” is the state of expressing wrath, fierceness, passion, and anger in a righteous manner.
Romans 2:8 says this:
For those who are selfishly ambitious and self-seeking and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, [there will be] wrath and indignation.
This is exactly what we see in Numbers 25. God had told Israel to stay away from other gods and to live righteously, avoiding all sin. Unfortunately, many of them disregarded God just as many are disregarding Him here in America today.
As God was passing judgment on all of Israel for their debauchery and apathy, one man (Phinehas) hastily grabbed a spear, ran, and thrust it through both a man and a woman who the Bible seems to indicate were, at the time, involved in sexual sin.
Upon this act, the judgment of God, that He was in the process of releasing, was stayed. Along with the immediate result of Phinehas’s indignation, the Psalmist even referenced that specific act as being righteous in Psalm 106:28-32.
God and His people express righteous anger all through the Bible
If expressing anger is a sin then God and Yeshua are both sinners because the Bible documents both of them being angry several times, just as it does with several other key Bible figures.
Of course, we know that God does not sin and so the obvious conclusion is that the act of being angry alone is not a sin.
As we see in Numbers 25, being angry for a righteous cause is not the problem. The Bible says to be angry and “sin not”. Sin is the problem, not anger.
When does anger become sin?
When is anger a sin? First and foremost we should understand that God will reveal the answer to that question to us if we are cultivating our relationship with Holy Spirit. It is He who will lead us to all truth.
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.John 16:13
How else can you know when anger is righteous? When the object of the anger is congruent with the kinds of things that we see God being angry about in the Word of God.
Hate evil and love good
For example, in Amos 5:15 the God of love says to “hate evil” and “love good”.
In Romans 12:9 Apostle Paul echoes these concepts quite well:
Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good.
So if you don’t hate ungodly evil, and instead you tolerate evil, are you guilty of placing your own desires above God’s? Absolutely.
As Christians have become more and more selfish they have become more and more tolerant of sin. Subsequently, America has continued to decline in pretty much every way. As you are probably aware, America is currently in a free fall. However, you may not recognize that the reason for this freefall is Christians have been selfishly tolerant of sin and iniquity.
“Christians” have failed to love God and others enough to say no to sin and rebellion.
What angers God? Wanton sin (iniquity).
Wanton sin (iniquity) angers God. For example, in Galatians 5:19-21 Apostle Paul says that the works of the flesh manifest in acts of; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21). If God doesn’t tolerate these activities then His people shouldn’t either.
Another example is found in Romans 13:3 which indicates that rulers should not be a terror to good, but rather to evil. When “rulers” (lawmakers, law enforces, etc.) purpose to create fear, alarm, or fright into those they are sworn to serve, then they are in wanton sin / iniquity.
Yeshua also expressed righteous anger over the sins of the people (Mark 3:1–5; Matthew 21:12–13; Luke 19:41–44).
It would be impossible to precisely express the point of which loving compassion should move into anger for sin or when righteous anger becomes sin in even one situation, let alone every situation. That is why we rely upon Holy Spirit.
However, the Scriptures are clear that not only is righteous indignation not a sin, but it can even be a Godly attribute that one should possess under the correct set of circumstances.
Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:Ephesians 4:26
It is a matter that requires spiritual maturity and acuity. Remember, sins of o-mission are just as much a sin as sins of co-mission.
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