BE A WITNESS OF GRACE PART TWO
We are to replace unrighteous anger with righteous anger and never let our anger go down with the sun. This is an echo of Psalm 4:4 where it says “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent…” Some think righteous anger is “Getting made and not cussing and that’s ok anger!” Wrong...Righteous anger is a holy anger against sin. Look what Paul tells us next to keep our heads up or in the game of the Christian life! Because remember this is new to Christians, so this needs to taught and lived out. which was and is foreign to our old nature. Paul says “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (v26) What Paul is saying is that the renewed child of God should think and speak without uncontrolled or prolonged anger. We need to understand that Paul never says “Do not get angry or there is no room for anger” Why? That’s impossible and uncharacteristic of God’s children to do. There are “just causes” for righteous anger.
What do mean? The injustice of brutality and insensitivity of murdering the baby in the womb. The injustice and sexual exploitation of woman and children in the sex trafficking business around the globe. The senseless killing of people who were enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Toronto on Yonge Street. Watching my Leafs lose game seven to the Boston Bruins for the second time in the first round of the Playoffs. There is a righteous anger that stirs into the hearts of God’s children because it’s an anger that goes against God’s desires for His creation. Because it offends a holy and merciful God, and it when it offends God, it offends His children. When God’s holy standards for the world is violated, this produces in us what we would call “Healthy Anger.” We might call this the “anger of God’s honor” we stand beside and behind a holy God, who loves us and gave us His Son. We base our defense and righteous anger on the standard of truth “The Word of God, because it emulates the glory of God’s character.” The church is to emulate the glory of God and when that isn’t happening this should grieve and anger you with a holy passion for God’s honor.
Take for example! David when he penned these words “Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.” Psalm 119:53. David gives us the picture of the emotions that he is going through because of sinfulness of man against God’s holy law. This rebellion has seized him; has overpowered and overwhelmed him. What David is saying is that “I shudder; I tremble; I am afraid; I am filled with distress.” For those who ignore God’s word and trample it under foot. So Paul isn’t saying we are never to get angry, What were not to do is never get angry and let it fester and stew overnight, because all that does is creates in us a ungodly attitude and self-righteousness. And that only leads to sin and nothing good comes from sin, because it has no eternal value this side of God’s grace and His glory. So! Here is where the danger comes into the life of God’s children and this is where we usually go most of the time with our anger. Keep in mind! Anger is neutral until it’s tested by scripture, there is a healthy anger and there is a negative/sinful anger.
Where do we find this kind of negative anger on display? Answer! In the home. Anger can reveal its ugly head very fast in the family. Especially if one of your siblings is wearing, eating, riding, using something of yours, playing with something that isn’t there’….And in about 1.2 seconds that other sibling explodes in to an angry raging lunatic. And then it becomes World War 8920. See sinful anger in not healthy anger and the scripture is very clear when it comes to unhealthy/sinful anger. For example……
1. Sinful anger is forbidden if it’s unjust or uncontrolled
Eccl 7:9 says “Do hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
Matt 5:22 Jesus said “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgement.”
2. Sinful anger always happens when it’s through a work of the flesh.
Gal 5:19-21 we read “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
3. Sinful anger is connected with Pride.
Prov 21:24 says “A proud and haughty man—"Scoffer" is his name; He acts with arrogant pride.”
4. Sinful anger is always accompanied by a fool.
Prov 12:16 says “A fool's wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame.”
Prov 27:3 says “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, But a fool's wrath is heavier than both of them.”
Prov 14:29 says “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly.”
Paul says here…we’re never to allow our anger to go down with the sun, because it will turn against us and betray us into sin. (v26) And we also see this betrayal in Psalm 37:8 where it says “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Why is there so much about unrighteous anger and sinful anger in the bible? One would think there is no room for anger, but as mentioned earlier there is a righteous anger for the glory of God, and this is where our justifiable anger belongs. But why is Paul warning us of this prolonged sinful anger and he does it by when he says “do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” We know the sun goes down a certain time of day and daylight is short, so we are to make sure this anger doesn’t go with us in darkness of night. Anger that is “caught up in the moment” if stewed over for many hours, can lead to; bitterness, ungodliness, resentment and unforgiveness. And that is where the “Heads Up Christian” comes into play, because we are now heading down a dangers path as Christian did in the “Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan.
What danger? The answer to that danger is found in the next verse “and give no opportunity for the devil.” (v27) Our greatest enemy and hater of God loves it when you stew in your anger and sinful flesh, because he knows it goes against everything God stands for. There are great dangers when this happens in the life of a child of God. Anger that is selfish, undisciplined and vindictive is sinful and has no place even temporarily in the Christian life. Paul uses the word “give no opportunity” This indicates to us that we are to always be on guide and never prolong our anger because this will give a foot hold for Satan. One person said “Don’t go to bed with unresolved conflict or else you will sleep with the Devil” Understand even the best motivated anger can turn sour very fast especially if we allow it down with the sun. Paul said this to the Roman Church “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. Therefore "IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom 12:16-21
There is a great warning for the church and to every brother and sister in Christ. Anger never ends well, especially when it’s unhealthy and sinful and to top it off when it’s given an ungodly opportunity it can be very deadly and life changing. There can be incredible consequences when we allow for our angry to go down with the sun…..FOR EXAMPLE… Nevertheless this is the extreme; I think it makes the point clearly for all of us and the dangers it can lead to……”Lam Luong, a 37 year-old man, confessed that after getting angry about a dispute with his wife, he murdered his four young children by throwing them off the Dauphin Island Bridge.” A little less extreme but just as deadly…..When a rattlesnake is cornered, sometimes it becomes so angry that it bites itself. When a man harbors hatred or bitterness in his heart he is poisoning himself just like the rattlesnake that bites itself. One puritan put it this way “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontation still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back; in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”
And a good question to us is this! How many of us are gnawing on our own souls? The day of anger should be the day we deal with it. Think about it! A life filled with anger, a church filled with anger, is a pain to the Spirit and to the body of Christ. Unrighteous and sinful fleshly anger can lead people down a road of no return. The greatest example is found in Genesis chapter 4 (turn there with me this morning). We read this “…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." Gen 4:1-7
In Cain’s anger it says at the end of (v6) he displayed his countenance “face fallen” this indicates that he was discouraged, he had a hopelessness and guilt filling that lead him to be envious of his brother. This fallen face of anger leads Cain to do the unthinkable! What happened next is not some “heat of the moment anger” this is something that has been stewing in him for many days or years to how he felt about his brother. We read on and it says “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground…..” Gen 4:8-16. The anger that stews, and stews and stews doesn’t taste good as stew does the next day…..No unhealthy anger only becomes bitter, sour like spoiled milk left on the counter for days. For the unsaved like Cain its leads to spiritual separation and judgement, but for the Christian it leads to a tarnished testimony of the grace of God and interruption to the family of God.
We need to have a balance when it comes to our anger…..the only justifiable angry a child of God is to have what offends and goes against God’s standards…not yours. Paul commands us to “be angry” with the qualification and yet “do not sin”. Our angry is only permissible when it done against the Person of the Lord and against His will and purposes. Remember what began proper meaning “healthy anger” can soon become unhealthy and matter of pride and then leads to sin if we allow it go down with the Sun. The puritan Thomas Boston said when that happens it becomes “evil in itself, and dishonorable to God; being the vomit of a proud heart and unmeekened spirit.” Remember……it is the anger of the Lord’s people who hate evil. “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.” Psalm 69:9. So what are we to do as for the “zeal of God’s house”, so that our anger doesn’t turn into sinful anger because all that does is give opportunity for the devil. That fervent passion I have for God’s house and service, and glory, and people is my focus and nothing else when it comes to my anger.
1. Seek ways to love despite the situation and do not allow your anger to get the best of you so that it festers into sinfulness and regret.
We read “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (meaning they are not easily angered).” 1 Cor 15:4-5. Being hot tempered usually involves making snap judgments, seeking instant vindication, and refusing to grant second chances. However, true love refuses to jump to conclusions, take revenge, or hastily judge anyone.
2. Keep your thought life and the gospel confession focused on Christ at all times, especially when it pertains to anger.
Paul said “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor 10:4-5.
3. Let God do His job, instead of trying to do it for Him.
Paul wrote “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rom 12:19
When we have been hurt or wronged, we want the one who brought us pain, to feel pain themselves. We want them to feel our pain that they put us through. We want to shun them, give them the silent treatment, or hurt them with words. We want to somehow get back at them for what they have done; after all, they deserve it. Unfortunately this anger is self-defensive and out of control. It leads to murder, jealousy, envy, and host of other sins. Understand! God is a righteous, holy, full of grace and we can always rest that the Creator of the Universe, who knows what is going and he will always have the last word…so that you don’t have to. Make sure we keep our anger holy and not unholy!