God's Character

Ever had a bad day? You are not alone, God has low moments too

In an effort to share some of the insights God has recently revealed about his character, I wanted to share a different kind of article, one that shows how God is not a teddy bear in the sky who has no range of emotion, but gets sad, and is filled with pain at times, mainly over our sin

Sin Hurts God’s Feelings: News And Sports At 11

Many think of God as not having emotions, or only having emotions that are happy, but that is not the case, as the Bible is clear God has a surprisingly diverse range of feelings, and not all of them are related to sunshine or rainbow sparkles

For example, let us look at the story of Noah, as God was so saddened over mankind’s abundant sin, it led him to a place of outright pain and regret for having created us

Genesis 6:5-8
The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord

In Hebrew, the word “grieved” means “regretful”, while the word “pain” means “to be pained, hurt”, so we see God was regretful, and filled with pain over having created mankind

To even partially understand how God was feeling at the time, look at the verses below that say God does not delight in the death of anyone, and that he wants everyone to repent so they may live:

Ezekiel 18:32
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance

In order for God to be so upset he would end the lives of almost everyone on earth, thus removing their chance to repent, we know he must have been in an incredibly sad, and unhappy place

But why was he so upset over man’s sin in the first place?

When Something Beautiful Goes Wrong It Can Be Heartbreaking

“We used to be so beautiful!”

Okay, all emo break up songs aside, almost all of us have experienced what it is like to start a beautiful new relationship, only to have it go sideways in some way, not living up to all the inspirational butterflies, and chemically addled daydreams our minds conjure up during the honeymoon period

With this in mind, consider how when God first created the earth, animals, mankind, etc…, he looked upon his finished work, proclaiming it was good:

Genesis 1:31
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good

(In Hebrew, the word “good” means “good, pleasing”)

Not only that, but look at how God actively participated in his creation, going so far as to give Adam the task of naming all of the animals by personally bringing them all before him, that must have been quite a parade!

Genesis 2:19-20
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field

It is interesting to note how this passage says “He brought them to the man to see what he would name them”, as God was curious to know what Adam’s own expression of creativity was in naming the animals–he really cared what Adam thought, isn’t that awesome?

In Genesis we see God’s original relationship with mankind was very personal, to the point where they knew each other face to face, and even interacted frequently

God’s original design for mankind was to be intimate friends, not have the contentious, rebellious relationship it turned into

Understanding this shows why God was so incredibly upset over mankind embracing sin, as, aside from Adam and Eve’s original disobedience, mankind had come so far away from God’s original idea of what was “good”, he was filled with pain and regret he had created them at all

Remember, the earth, the animals, and mankind were not just things God created, but expressions of his creativity he loved dearly

Not to mention, just think how the enemy must have taunted God when they saw him despair over our spiritual condition like that, especially considering how the flood had the appearance of being a victory for evil–this must have made God’s decision to flood the earth even more painful

(We will talk more in a future article about how the enemy felt they had triumphed over God when Jesus went down to the grave in death, as no one had ever been released from death’s grasp before that!

Colossians 1:18
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead)

The idea that God was mindful of the enemy’s mocking may sound hard to believe at first, but consider how God did not destroy the Israelites completely when they angered him in the desert, not because of his mercy or forgiveness, but because he did not want his enemies to think they had succeeded in destroying his people!

Deuteronomy 32:26-27
I said I would scatter them and blot out their memory from mankind, but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy, lest the adversary misunderstand and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed; the Lord has not done all this’

The enemy knows he cannot overcome God, so the only way they can hurt or insult God is by taking as many of us down with him as possible

We do not consider this very often, but it is incredibly humbling, as when we choose sin over righteousness, our sins are a continuation of the same work the enemy grieved God with so long ago, to the point where he was kicked mankind out of the Garden of Eden, and even got to a point where he was willing to destroy all he created with the flood

Again, this may be a bit challenging to understand, so really, really think about this point before reading on, as we often have no regard or understanding when it comes to God’s feelings over our rebellious, disobedient choices–sin is a just a game the enemy uses to separate us from God, the same game they have played with us since the beginning of time

Does God Still Get Upset Now Over Sin, Even Under The New Covenant

Um, hello, yes of course God gets upset over our sins today!

God feels much worse about our sin than we do, no matter how guilty our consciences may feel at the time, as he created us to know him intimately, and lay down his life to demonstrate how much he passionately loves us, which is far more than we can say about our efforts to show him how much we want his friendship in return

In fact, when Christians look at sin in their lives, they are often so quick to utter statements like “God hates the sin but loves the sinner”, they do not stop to consider how their choices hurt God’s feelings, but prefer to conveniently focus on how fast he is willing to forgive us rather than do everything possible to not hurt the one they profess to love in the first place

Quite honestly, the way many Christians approach God’s forgiveness sounds like the mindset of an abusive relationship partner, not someone who is sincerely in love with God

“It does not matter if I cheat on you, I know you are going to forgive me anyway”

I understand many have a hard time believing God’s feelings get hurt when we sin, but we must understand God for who the Bible shows he is, not create him in an image that we are most comfortable with

For example, look at how Paul addressed this topic openly by saying if we live sinfully, we “grieve” the Holy Spirit inside of us, just like how God was grieved when he saw the sin of mankind so early on in our history!

Ephesians 4:29-32
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you

(In Greek, the word “grieve” means “to cause pain or sorrow, fill with anxiety”, so we see Paul is telling us not to cause the Holy Spirit inside of us pain or anxiety through our sinful choices, proving God still gets upset, just like he did in the OT!)

Paul is clear in saying our sin hurts, and saddens God, but does it ever make him angry?

For a clear example of how rebellion and sin grieve his Spirit when we choose to reject his righteousness, look at this passage from Isaiah:

Isaiah 63:7-10
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old

Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit

So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them

Um, wow, that is quite a passage, as God looked so hopefully upon the Israelites as a people who would honor him that he became their Savior, even sharing the same emotions they went through during times of trouble, ie: “In all their distress he too was distressed”

However, because “they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit”, “he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them”


Sure, this was from the OT, so a lot of people will dismiss this passage saying God will not look at us as enemies since we are under the new covenant, but look at how James says the same thing to NT believers!

We cannot dismiss uncomfortable revelations of God’s character just because they were in the OT, he is still the same God!

James 4:4-5
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward GodAnyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?

In Greek, the word “friendship” means “long for, belong to”, which illustrates how James is saying if the true desires of our heart are rooted in worldly things, not God, we make ourselves his enemy, just like the Israelites did when they rejected him


For many, the Biblical reality of our sin upsetting God is uncomfortable, as it challenges their understanding of God’s character

However, only the enemy wants us to look at God as a big giant teddy bear who has no emotional capacity, as thinking that way never leads us to empathetically consider God’s feelings when facing temptation

Instead, the enemy wants us just to think of our guilty consciences or worry about whether we are going to get caught, as if we only focus on those things, we will have no empathy for God and think things like: “If I sin, God will forgive me anyway so it does not matter what I do”

Just as in the beginning, the enemy wants us to be completely ignorant to how much our sin hurts God, and how much it damages our relationship with him, as their goal is to do everything possible to keep us from having an intimate, holy relationship with our Creator

1 Peter 1:15-16
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy”

If You Thought The Flood Was Upsetting To God, Think About This

In looking at the passages above, we see God was upset enough to flood the earth because of sin, he got angry at the Israelites when they rejected him and personally became their enemy, and we also see how God is grieved today when we choose sin over his righteousness, yet, that is not the full revelation of God’s emotional experience when it comes to the sin of mankind

Take a moment to really consider this next point, as when God flooded the earth, everybody except Noah and his family died, but that was the end of God’s anger, there was no form of punishment beyond physical death, everyone went down to the grave in God’s anger, but that was it

However, on the day of judgment, when all mankind will give an account of their lives, that is when most people’s eternity will be decided, which is going to be an incredibly painful experience for God, as an overwhelming number of people are going to be denied entrance to heaven because they rejected his righteous truth

Matthew 7:13-14
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it

Romans 14:12
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God

Hebrews 4:13
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account

Again, remember how the Bible tells us God does not delight in the death of anyone, not even the most evil, horrible sinners, and does not want anyone to suffer eternal death in hell, so you can imagine the immense sadness he is going to feel seeing so many parts of his creation go off to eternal condemnation, separated from him forever, as that is much worse than flooding the earth like he did in the days of Noah:

Ezekiel 18:32
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance

(Note that Peter says “He is patient with *you*”, as he is talking to a body of believers about not perishing for lack of repentance, he is not talking to, or about, non-believers!)

We are often so self-absorbed, we rarely consider how our sin affects God, as we often just think God will forgive us, without ever stopping to consider how he feels when we willingly choose to reject him in favor of something we already know is wrong

Even though some people will continue wrestling with this concept, it is important to understand God has zero history of turning a blind eye to sin people refuse to repent of, re-read the two passages directly above, as both show we will live if we repent, not just say we believe in Jesus but do nothing to lay down sin

Also, take note these verses are from both the OT and NT, as they are reflections of God’s character, which did not change between the old covenant and the new

Proverbs 28:13
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy

However, the good news is, despite all those who will not make it, the Bible says all tears will be wiped away in the end, even God’s, as those who loved him above sin will be united with him for eternity, just like he intended when he created us in the first place, as he is looking forward to the day when he will rejoice over us with his own song–imagine God singing with joy over those who love him, how awesome is that?

John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him

1 John 5:3
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome

Revelation 2:26
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations

Revelation 21:1-8
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death

Revelation 21:22-27
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light,and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing

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  • Hi there, Nathan. Nice blog.. just out of curiosity, do you consider yourself part of the New Reformed tradition? (Not that we all need to label ourselves, of course.)

    • Hi Tara,

      It is very nice to meet you, thank you for saying hello!

      I am not sure what “New Reformed” means, I found some articles about the term, but they had different types of meanings for the phrase, can you explain more?

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