Dr Alex Tang
A few days ago as I was driving along Jalan Datin Halimah and meditating on what I am going to preach about anger, suddenly a small white Kancil honked and overtook me. It then sped ahead. Suddenly I felt this hot anger rose out of me. How dare this small little Kancil honk me. How dare it overtake me. My hands gripped the steering wheels tight. My foot started to press down my accelerator. I am going to chase the kancil. I am going to get right behind him and flash my lights. Then I am going to overtake him and stare at him. Then I realised what I am doing. Road rage. Anger. One moment I am quietly meditating and another I am having a road rage.
Reminds me of when I was in school in the 1970s. My favorite television program is the Incredible Hulk staring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferringou. There was this scientist who was accidentally irradiated by gamma rays. When he gets angry, he changed into the Hunk who is the most powerful being on earth and was driven by pure rage. He likes to say, “Don’t get me mad, you wouldn’t like it if I get mad”. But every show he gets mad and transform into the Hulk. You can show him turning green and his muscles ripping, tearing up his shirt. He averages a shirt a show. The he is pure rage. He destroys the bad guys, buildings, trees and trains. Once he destroyed a school and my brother and I thought that was real cool. That is uncontrollable destructive anger.
There is another man. A leader who led a million people on a long track in the desert. A good leader and a good friend of God. In fact he is the only man who see God’s face and lived. The people were always grumbling and rebellious. One day they were in the Desert of Zin. There was no water and as usual the people were grumbling. You have brought us out of Egypt to die here in the desert. In Egypt at least we have water. Enough to drive any leaders crazy. Moses gave them water. But instead of speaking to the rock as instructed by the Lord, he struck it twice with his staff. Because in his anger Moses did not honor God, he was denied entry into the promised land. (Num 20:2-13). That is a moment of anger destroying a lifetime of good works.
There is another man. He entered the temple outer court, which has been converted, into a marketplace. He drove out all that were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of moneychangers and benches of those selling doves. “My house will be called a house of prayer’ but you are making it a ‘den of thieves’. (Matt 21:12). That is righteous anger for God.
Ephesian 4:26-27 (NIV)
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and give the devil a foothold.
Unlike many of the letters Paul wrote, Epistle to the Ephesians does not address any specific issue or heresy. Instead Paul wrote to help the Gentile Christians in Asia Minor to understand the greater dimensions of God’s eternal purpose and grace for His chosen people, his church. In Ephesian 4 he wrote of spiritual health and growth. He wrote of putting away the Old Man (Eph 4:22) which is our way of life before knowing Jesus and putting on the New Man (Eph 4:24) which is created in God in righteousness and true holiness.
And for the New Man, he wrote of not telling any more lies (v.25); anger (v.26); stealing (v.28); not to grieve the Holy Spirit (v.30); put away all negative emotions(v.31) and be kind and forgiving to one another (v.32).
The topic for tonight is anger. Eph 4:26a “In your anger do not sin” which is a quotation from Psalm 4:4
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
1. ANGER is not Sin
i. It is okay to be ANGRY
How many of you feel it is okay to be angry? That Christians can be angry and not feel guilty? Somewhere along the way, many of us have been taught that Christians should not have emotions especially anger. It is unchristian to be angry. Christians should be emotionless like Mr. Spock of the Starship Enterprise.
Why do we get angry? ( 5 reasons)
q because of what someone else has done or failed to do
q because of unwanted events or circumstances
q because of our failures or inability’s to reach some desired goals.
q because of stress
q because of tiredness
(2) Threat and hurt
Person perceives that he or she is rejected, put down, ignored, humiliated, unjustly criticized or threatened.
(3) Medical cause
There is a sweet little boy who is happy and sociable. But at times, he gets into a tremendous rage that he was destructive and dangerous. After that, he was well again and truly sorry for what he did. He was taught to be demon possessed and much deliverance was done on him. Unfortunately, he remained the same. One day, an alert physician discovered that his rages were associated with bananas. Removal of bananas from his diet cured him of his rages.
In some cases there are biochemical causes for our anger especially in people with mental and emotional disorders.
Do we feel angry to know of this employer physically abusing her Indonesian
maid? Do we feel anger when we hear of this father kidnapping her 13 years old
daughter, tying her to a bed and raping her? Do we feel anger? God does. This
we have seen is the basis of divine wrath.
By watching others, children and adults both learn how and when to be angry.
Counselors working with angry teenagers found that either one or both parents
are always angry. Being angry can be modeled. That’s why Prov 22:24-25 states
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.
The verse does not equate anger with sin. Anger is one of the attributes of God. God is angry. In the Old Testament, there are over 600 verses that stated that God is angry. God is angry over injustice. God is angry over unfaithfulness. God is angry over greed. God is angry over pride. There are more verses on God’s anger than on His love and tenderness. Since anger is part of God’s nature, we cannot conclude that anger, is in itself sin.
ii. ANGER is a choice.
The other point we can learn from this verse is that anger is a choice. In your anger do not sin. We can choose to be angry or not.
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.
Slow to become angry. Nobody can force you to be angry when you do not want to be angry. You choose to be angry.
I used get very angry with some of my patient’s parents. Some people are real irritating. They like to grumble. Doc, why is my son not well yet. Well it takes time, your son was only admitted 2 hours ago. And I will get angry and it spoilt the rest of my day. Especially if I am tired from not having enough sleep the night before. I would become irritable and nasty to my other patients. Then one day, I realised. Why should I let someone spoilt my day. Why should I give someone so much power? The power to control my emotions. I realised that I do not have to get angry if I do not want to. And If I get angry, I can choose not to continue to be angry. The choice is mine and mine alone.
2. When Anger becomes Sin
Gen 4: 1-12
4:1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
GE 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
GE 4:8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
GE 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"
"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
GE 4:10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
Here you see anger becomes a sin when it mastered you.
Martyn Lloyd Jones in his sermons on Ephesian stated:
The moment you are controlled by your temper you are no longer able to reason, you are no longer able to think, you can no longer give a balanced judgement, for you are altogether biased on one side against the other side. In other words, the power to reason and to think and to equate and evaluate – all that makes man man – is gone; for the time being, he is like a beast, the creature of his own passion and of an instinctive power.
3. Hoarding your ANGER collections.
The second part of the verse says Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and give the devil a foothold.
It is interesting that in the verse, Paul uses two Greek words for anger. The first is orge and the second is parorgismos. In your orge do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still parorgismos and give the devil a foothold. The first word orge is a verb. An action word. The second parorgismos is a noun. Martyn Lloyd Jones translates it as wrath, a stronger word than anger. It means exasperation, it means anger aroused and nursed and nourished until it become a settled condition; it means hatred, bitterness of spirit, vindictiveness. It means you are determined to get your own back, to seek vengeance and absolutely determined to get it. It is a settled part of anger; it has become part and parcel of you; it is a mood; it is a condition, which is permanent. That why it is so dangerous to hang onto your anger. It leads to
i. Grieving the Holy Spirit
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
ii. Bitterness and Poison in your soul
Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It is a story that a young man is so proud of his looks that he make a deal with the devil. He had a portrait made. What sins and cruelty he commits is reflected in the portrait but not in his physical appearance. As the story goes, as he ages, his physical appperance remains youthful and handsome while his portrait becomes ugly. Hoarded sinful anger can do this to our souls. Outwardly, we can look the same but inwardly, we begin to rot.
iii. Spiritual Oppression
As Christians, we know that we cannot be demon possessed. Demons cannot come in and take over our bodies as we have the Holy Spirit in us. But we can be demon oppression. This verse said we can hoard anger and give the devil a foothold. Sinful anger can give demons an opportunity to enter, to hold on and create havoc with our lives. I was talking to this Christian brother last year. He has an interesting history. Before he became a Christian, he was a temple medium. Now that he is a Christian, he is involved in a deliverance ministry in KL. He is familiar with demons. He said that harboring anger or any type of sin in a Christian allows demons to attach themselves to the outside of your body. They hang on like leeches or skin tumors. From there they try to poison your souls. This is what it means by giving the devil a foothold.
So Eph 4:26-27 warns us there are two dangers of being angry – firstly letting anger become sin and secondly hoarding anger in your spirit. So how do we apply this verse in our lives?
1. ANGER control
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
One of the ways we are taught to handle anger is that we need to get it out of our system. We must express it, let off steam, swear, yell, scream, pound a pillow, kick the dog or find some other ways to vent our hostility. That is nonsense. The Scripture nowhere supports this idea and neither is it supported by psychological research. In contrast, evidence suggest that ventilation, expression of rage, tantrums, continual talking about our anger tend to increase anger instead of reducing it.
Step 1: Admit your anger.
Do not deny your anger. Anger denied will never be eliminated.
Step 2: Try to deal with your anger as they arise, one at a time.
If there are many things causing you to be angry, deal with them one at the time.
Step 3: Slow your reaction. Develop self-control.
Count to 10 before you react. Reach for the quiet space in your soul if you
practice the spiritual discipline of solitude. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. Pray.
Step 4: Ask yourself if the anger is justified and if it comes about because you feel
threatened or afraid.
Step 5: Tell the person and says why it hurt you and made you feel angry.
2. Get rid of your emotional/ANGER garbage
Step 1: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal than angers you have been harboring in your spirit.
Psalm 139: 23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Step 2: Deal with them one by one. Confession and forgiveness.
I Jn 1: 9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Step 3: Ask the Holy Spirit to heal the wounds.
Step 4: Bring it to resolution.
Eph 4: 26,27 deals with anger control and the dangers of sinful anger. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control. (Gal 5:22-23). As we begin to mature in Christ. As we begin to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and mould us into the likeness of Christ, we will begin to find that we will have better self-control. Better self control will means better anger control.
Friendship & Anger