I don't think it can be recalled enough . . . in this place as we are so forgetful and tend so much to drift and lose sight, assuming we attain some sight in the first place. . . .
A big problem with unbelievers and many who claim belief as well . . . is in not realizing just how serious sin is--the sin of the world and our own individual sin within it. . . .
We tend to compare ourselves to other (fallen, sinful) people and think, "I'm not so bad . . . at least I'm not a rapist or a murderer. God knows my heart--that I'm sincere and will give me a break. . . . "
The scary part (at least the part that should be) is that God DOES know our hearts . . . and they are "deceitfully wicked"! Most, if not all, rape and murder every day, and many times at that, in their hearts, which is what God is looking at, NOT the superficial exterior of manifest behavior.
There is a cognitive dissonance--a dark irony and deadly contradiction in many who claim belief . . . where they assert following the "gentle, loving" Jesus of the New Testament . . . not the "wrathful, judgmental" God of the Old Testament. Yet, in fact, they try and follow the law of the O.T. thinking that if they don't actually murder someone, and do "good works" they are doing well, while ignoring the more severe teachings of Jesus in the N.T. Now, we can't perfectly follow either the O.T. or the N.T., which is why grace has been given, but make no mistake, there are not two different Gods: ie., the mean one of the O.T. versus the dewy-eyed, limp-wristed one of the N.T. God is one. There is ONE God who does not contradict Himself, even through His different (3) personal attributes. And He doesn't change. It is not that He was overly cruel in the O.T. but then softened and grew more compassionate and "loving" in the New Testament. . . .
No, the same God Who said, "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (1 Sam. 15:3) is the same God Who healed the sick and cast out demons. Those who cannot reconcile this seeming paradox, and thus go about creating a different "Jesus" or "God" in their own minds to worship . . . with Whom they are more comfortable . . . make a grave error and refuse to comprehend the full revealed character of the Lord. Which is a sin to do and akin to what the serpent tempted Adam and Eve to do in the beginning . . . which has led to vast evil and corruption in this world. The one who does this similarly causes a great deal of evil and corruption in their own lives as well, for the "truth is not in them".
I heard one of my favorite pastors last night, addressing some of this, describe God as "scary holy". This is not, of course, in any morbid sense that we see Him thus, but in His sovereign, perfectly holy, just, holiness. "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom."
I also find that those who ignore God's wrath . . . often don't really appreciate or realize the depth of His mercy and love, paradoxically, as well, though this is what they think they are focused on.
But the two go together. When we do not realize the seriousness of our sin against a Holy God, we do not fully grasp the depth and scope and beauty of His grace and mercy. . . .