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Be Angry, But Do Not Sin

Be Angry But Do Not Sin

We all get angry, and contrary to what some believe, anger is a God-given emotion. God gets angry and we are made in His image. Anger can either serve you well or get you in a lot of trouble, depending on how it is handled. As with all God’s gifts, the devil perverts them. Our anger needs to be purified and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Directed by the Holy Spirit, a righteous anger towards sin (which God has) will cause us to love God and love people, while motivating us to spread the Gospel and make disciples in spite of the persecution we suffer.

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Man’s anger is expressed in a number of sinful ways. Perhaps you express anger in one or more of these ways. There are Maniacs who tend to explode, yell, scream, and act like raging lunatics. If you have ever seen one get mad and make a fool out of themselves, then you know this type.

There are Mutes who simply turn in and silently do a slow burn. This is the crock pot version of anger, where one steams and stews while denying that he is even angry. Of course everyone else knows the truth because he often won’t speak to you when he is angry.

There are Martyrs who are professionals at throwing pity parties when they are angry. They cry, they feel sorry for themselves, and they blame others for perceived injustices to themselves. “It’s not fair!” The older brother described in the parable of the prodigal son was one of these.

There are the Manipulators. Their attitude is, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” They will stir up other people to be angry at the one who offended them. The Pharisees exemplify this group.

Common everyday irritations often spark a sinful selfish anger. An irritant is something frustrating that we have no control over. It may come in the form of thoughtlessness, a crossing of our plans, or an ill-spoken word. I don’t watch the news because it irritates me, and the only control I have is to turn it off and not listen to it. But we cannot avoid every irritation, and we must learn how to respond correctly. The most powerful response to any irritation is to pray.

Each incident, insult, or irritation, is actually a test of holiness. If we pray and react in love, these tests can be stepping-stones to oneness with God. React to them selfishly and they will separate us from God. We must learn how to handle irritations and insults in Christ.

Eccl. 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

If we are right, we don't NEED to lose our temper. If we are wrong, we certainly can't AFFORD to! Losing our temper amounts to nothing more than justifying ourselves by defending our "rights." God wants us to die to our rights. So don't blame your anger on the irritation. A kick that knocks over a bucket only spills what is in the bucket. It does not create its contents. It is not the irritation that concerns God as much as what is in our hearts. He allows our bucket to get kicked over so we can see what is in it.

On the other hand, silently fuming is not the way to deal with anger either.  Eph. 4:26-27 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

This means anger is natural, but we must not use it to sin. Therefore, we must deal with it properly and quickly so we don’t allow the enemy into our life through anger. The enemy will turn our anger into vengeance, harmful speech, and malice if we don’t give it to God quickly.

Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

James 4:7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  

Submitting to God is one way we resist the devil. This also means that if we do not resist the devil, he will stay with us. Ignorance is no protection in the spiritual world. If we do not have knowledge about the devices of the enemy, he will take advantage of us.

For instance, there is a slow satanic brainwashing going on in churches. Many Christians are gradually getting used to darkness. Ignorance of God’s Word and tolerance of sin are being promoted. Gradually, things like fornication, homosexuality, and adultery are being accepted. Gluttony, greed, and lying are ignored. Sin, repentance, and dying to self are rarely preached because it doesn’t increase attendance. We are not resisting the devil and he has his way with us, making us hypocrites and unappealing to unbelievers.

Indeed, the end time is here. Criminals are revered and cop-killing is promoted in games and music. We see it happening for real in our cities. When people are not viewing the news or sports, they are watching Satan’s indoctrination through entertainment produced in Sodom and Gomorrah. Our minds are polluted with filth and sinful ideas instead of the Word of God and righteousness. We have given the devil a foothold.

Many people, who call themselves Christians, are grieving the Holy Spirit because they do not want to offend the wicked by speaking the truth in love. They do not want to be seen as peculiar and strange.

Many believe that merging with darkness can change darkness. That is not true, neither is it loving. It is aiding and abetting the enemy. They will be the ones changed. The early church did not dim their light to match the world in which they were living. Their lifestyle lined up with their Gospel as ambassadors for Christ. As a result, they changed the world!

We need to wake up and pray hard, because many people are looking for the enemy outside, but the enemy is already inside. We have given the devil a foothold. We have allowed the enemy to control us with selfish anger. Instead of the Holy Spirit controlling our anger, anger has become a weapon for our opponent. Once the enemy sees that anger is our weakness, he will use it against us. As a result, we are angry at the wrong things. We are angry at each other. We need to be angry at Satan!

Anger is a powerful emotion. Sinful anger is temporary insanity. An angry person manages everything badly. When we are angry, our emotions are on the edge, and unless the Holy Spirit is in control, we say and do things which we normally would not do. If we go to bed angry, the devil will become our bedfellow. Anger has opened doors for the enemy to destroy marriages and all kinds of things. So, how do we make anger righteous?

Step one is to EXAMINE the irritation that provokes us to anger. God has allowed this to irritation to test our spirituality. Therefore, we should THANK HIM for the irritation! Yes, thank Him, for this is one of those situations where we are to give thanks in all circumstances. Don’t forget this step and don’t skip it. Make it a sacrifice of praise unto God, in whom you trust. Thank God for the irritation, person, or situation, and examine it from God’s perspective and purpose.

Secondly, we must EXPOSE any hidden heart attitude by asking ourselves when we become angry, "Has something been revealed in my heart that the Lord Jesus is not pleased with? What sort of godly attitude should I have instead? How would Jesus have behaved in this situation?" Confess your anger to others so they can pray with you and counsel you in answering these questions.

After this, we can EMPTY OUT sinful anger by confessing it to God, repenting, forgiving others, and receiving His loving forgiveness. Ask God to fill you with His Spirit, so you can respond rightly to the next irritation with patience, self-control, and meekness.

There are four types of anger and ways to handle each. First, sudden anger is to be controlled. Someone says something or does something that offends us. Suddenly, the emotion of anger is aroused. No sin has been committed yet. Stop, before you do or say anything, pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to take control. Let Him sanctify your anger. If we don’t let God control our anger, it will become sinful.

Prov. 16:32 Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

Prov. 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Secondly, sinful anger is to be condemned. We are far too easy on ourselves. We make excuses for our bad temperaments, and expect others to overlook our sinful attitudes and actions. We need to call sinful anger what it is. It isn’t just a weakness, it is wickedness! It isn’t a minor flaw, it is a moral failure! And for those who excuse their sinful anger by saying “It just runs in my family,” well, we need to open our eyes and see that our father is the devil! It isn’t heredity, it is a godless habit! It is horrible and hurtful. It is dangerous! It will destroy our relationships and our Christian witness to others unless we repent.

If you are wondering how you can know if your anger is sinful, then honestly answer the following questions: (1) Do I have the right to be angry? (2) Is my anger directed at an individual or an injustice? (3) Do I have a desire for revenge? (4) Is my anger something I cherish and hold on to? (5) Do I have an unforgiving spirit? (6) Is the way in which I am handling this anger bringing honor to God? Honestly answering these questions will give you an insight on just how sinful you are in your anger.

Jesus said, Matthew 5:21-22 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'   But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. 

Our anger is sinful if it is focused on a person. Jesus was never angry at any person, but He was angry with the sin in people. All sinful anger comes from a selfish motive. It is always directed towards a person, group, or community. When someone does wrong against us, we must pray for them and do good to them. This will direct our hurt and anger in righteous ways.

Here are a couple examples of extreme sinful anger.
a. Explosive Anger. We tend to do foolish things in our anger when we become explosive. It is a fact that people who fly into a rage seldom make a good landing.

Prov. 19:19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

Prov. 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

Hot-tempered people destroy material items and abuse people in their anger. We must not suffer in silence and make excuses to rescue those with hot-tempers. If they are abusive, they need to be exposed so they will be motivated to repent and be delivered from this sin before they do a greater harm.

b. Revengeful Anger. Once someone offends us, the seed of anger is sown. Unchecked, the anger grows, and we become revengeful, waiting for a chance to attack the other person. Remember Cain. Revengeful anger leads to murder, fights, and often harm to oneself.

Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

God says He will avenge us. We must learn to give our revengeful anger to God and trust Him to bring about justice for everyone in His perfect time.

Thirdly, stubborn anger is to be conquered. This is the anger that stays for a period of time. It may last days, months, or even years. Stubborn, angry people are not open and never speak about their anger. They carry their anger and bitterness in their heart and stubbornly refuse to forgive. They start to behave differently and talk harshly. Such stubbornness can be seen among couples and friends, destroying intimate relationships. Stubborn anger is sin and must be conquered. We conquer it by asking for grace to forgive so we may be forgiven by our Father.

Rom. 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

Fourthly, sanctified anger is to be channeled. It isn’t always a sin to be angry. In fact, sometimes it is a sin not to be angry.

Psalm 7:11 God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.

Godly anger is anger at the right time, with the right spirit, directed at the right target. Just as godless anger results in godless actions, godly anger results in godly actions. It is a matter of the direction in which anger is aimed and who is aiming the anger.

One of the best indicators of our character is what makes us angry. Jesus was without sin, but He wasn’t without anger. If I am going to be like Jesus, I need to know what made Him angry and what He did when He was angry.

It was never an issue of what was done to Him. What angered Jesus was insensitivity to the hurts and needs of other people. When directed toward injustices, anger is channeled into an expression of love for God and man.

Mark 3:1-6 Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.  Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."  Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Jesus was not angry because He was accused. His anger was not directed towards a person, nor was it selfish. Jesus was angry at the stubbornness of the Pharisees, which caused them to defend evil and suffering in the name of religion. When Jesus was angry, He directed His anger towards His purpose—delivering people from sin and the devil. For example, after hearing of John the Baptist’s execution, Jesus withdrew to pray and then fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Therefore, our anger should be directed by the Holy Spirit towards God’s purpose—freeing people from sin and the devil, who causes people to sin. Righteous anger will cause us to pray with zeal for people’s deliverance from Satan’s clutches. It will motivate us to do good to our enemies and bless those who insult us. It will energize us to go and make disciples of Christ. That is how we get back at the enemy of our souls.

 So, how do you deal with your anger? Is your anger controlling you or is the Holy Spirit controlling your anger? If anger is controlling you, it is sinful. It will make you do things you will regret. If you suffer from sudden anger, explosive anger, revengeful anger, or stubborn anger, then confess this as sin and ask God for grace to repent of these kinds of anger. If the Holy Spirit is controlling your anger, He will sanctify it and direct it away from defending your rights and away from people. He will use your anger to accomplish God’s purpose.

One more important thing about anger. If you have not made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, then God’s anger is still upon you. Repent of your stubbornness, rebellion, and all sin, and confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Die to yourself in water baptism and receive a new life born of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be saved from God’s wrath and receive God’s favor.