How is it Possible to Be Angry and Not Sin? #222 (Is Righteous Anger Biblical?)
Hello friends and happy Wednesday to you! Our church tonight is hosting an online prayer meeting tonight/Wednesday 7pm Pacific time at https://www.facebook.com/VBCsalinas/ If you would like to stop by and pray with us, or share prayer requests with us, please do so. I would personally love to pray with you, and you can email me at email@example.com or even text me on my personal phone.
Our Scripture passages today are Judges 19, Jeremiah 33, Psalms 3-4 and Acts 23. We are going to read about something absolutely horrific in Judges, and I want to remind you that that Bible doesn’t whitewash over sin and depravity – especially the book of Judges. The theme of the whole book is found in the very last verse:
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.
Judges is essentially a 21 chapter long meditation of what it is like when religious people simply do what is right in their own eyes. Our focus passage is once again from Psalms, this time chapter 4:
Be angry and do not sin;
reflect in your heart while on your bed and be silent.
Apparently, it is not always wrong to be angry, but anger can most certainly open the door for many sinful and hurtful acts. Let’s read our Psalms passage and then discuss anger.
Anger is an issue that most churches don’t speak about quite enough. My friend and fellow pastor David ‘Crazylegs’ McConnell, pastor of Agape Temple in Pinson, Alabama, recently taught on anger and gave four reasons why it is very important for Christians to approach anger from a biblical place:
- The widespread impact of sinful anger: The human heart tends increasingly toward hostility without the ongoing, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. And even then we are not immune from the influence of anger. Although it may present itself differently in each of us, none are free of its temptation. Sinful anger produces works such as envy, gossip, hate, depression, division, violence, and even murder. It has lasting and deep impact; scarring individuals, families and churches.
2. The threat of sinful rage against unity in the church. In a faith family where God is bearing fruit, the enemy of Christ will look for opportunities to gain entry, grieve God’s spirit, and suppress His work. Strife, resentment & bitterness are threats to our abiding in Jesus & therefore our fruitfulness.
3. The culture we live in is a rage culture. I can remember no time in my life in which our society is as angry and argumentative as it is now. As a people we are losing grasp on how to disagree without hatred; on how to listen and then speak carefully; on how to oppose without venom. Ephesians 4 warns us not to live as the godless live; We are in this culture, but we must not be like this culture. We must flee divisive rhetoric and anger, in order to make Christ known.
4. Our teaching on anger is often shallow in general. There are 2 primary approaches to dealing with anger. In culture, there is a strong emphasis on venting. Everyone needs to vent, we are told. Pitch a fit, blow off some steam, punch a wall, or make a fiery post on FB, as helpful ways of dealing with anger. But even secular psychologists see the errors in that approach, warning that indulging in venting when we are young, will lead to increasingly destructive behaviors against ourselves and others when we are older. Proverbs 29:11 says it is a fool who gives full vent to His Spirit. Now the other common approach to dealing with anger is suppressing it. This may be the thought most widely accepted in churches: That Godly people suppress or hide their anger. But that too is dangerous. The reality is the Bible does not present a shallow approach to anger, such as suppress it or vent it. In the Ephesians 4 passage, v26 says we should be angry and not sin while v31 tells us to let anger and wrath be removed from us. So which is it? Its both. The Bible teaches that there is a type of sinful anger that we must put away and a type of anger that is actually warranted or helpful.
Source: A shared doc in my Google drive from David’s sermon in October of 2019. Visit Agape on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/agapepinson/
So – how dangerous is anger? Let’s consider: Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy,outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Those who have an “anger problem,” biblically speaking, have a KEEPING YOURSELF OUT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD Problem. That is scary!
What about “righteous anger” That’s okay, right? Well – here’s the thing. I can’t find that phrase in Scripture. I think I can see the concept there, but I don’t see anywhere that it actually applies to humans. GOD can be angry in a righteous way. I’m not actually sure we can, not in the same way. I do, however, think we can be angry and not sin, as David mentioned above.
Ephesians 4,26-27 “Ephesians 4: 26 Be angry and do not sin.Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.”
So I think it is possible to be angry and not sin. I am not sure that we can be righteously angry, but let us look at how Jesus handled anger, so that we can see a little bit about what sinless anger looks like.
I found only TWO places in Scripture where the Bible says Jesus was angry. One of those places a kind of iffy word for anger is used (Groaning), but let’s count it.
Jesus ANGRY in Scripture:
- JESUS IS ANGRY PASSAGE: John 11, “32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!”33 When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. 34 “Where have you put him?” He asked. “Lord,” they told Him, “come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Couldn’t He who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, angry in Himself again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Remove the stone,” Jesus said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told Him, “Lord, he’s already decaying.It’s been four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” Takeaways – Jesus was affected by Lazarus “dying early.” Now – don’t get me wrong – Lazarus died precisely when he was supposed to – God is sovereign – but Psalm 90:10 seems to indicate that man should live 70-80 years. Jesus was groaning – maybe even angry – about this tragedy. How did He handle it? He was gentle with all. ANGRY in Himself. No accusations of God. No lashing out. No silent brooding.
ANGER ISN’T ALWAYS LOUD: Instead, I sulk. I get angry, but try to pretty it up by letting it be that brooding anger instead of that explosive anger. – Tim Challies writes that ANGER is anger. Anger doesn’t have to be shouting and hollering and banging things. My anger is usually very, quiet. I used to get mad when I would get in trouble with my friends who have discerning gifts and they sensed that I was angry for a wrong reason. It isn’t fair, I would reason – I didn’t holler or shout or swear, or say anything. But they discerned my heart. I was proud of myself for self-restraint, but the fact is that my anger is not usually justifiable and being broody about it, or quiet or whatever and SEETHING is NOT righteous anger or sinless anger. I WITHOLD myself when I am angry with somebody. Maybe you do too. THAT IS SIN – It is NOT righteous anger. It is NOT the Jesus way. IT IS NOT MATURE.
2. Jesus is ANGRY passage: Mark 3: Mark 3 Now He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a paralyzed hand. 2 In order to accuse Him, they were watching Him closely to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 He told the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. Interestingly, in chapter 2, Jesus receives multiple criticisms. He is criticized for forgiving the paralytic’s sins before healing him. He is criticized for dining with sinners. He is criticized for His disciples not fasting (when John’s disciples did fast.) He is criticized for picking heads of grain on the Sabbath. Again – How does He handle it? NO attacks. NO shouting. No outbursts. NOTE: God’s anger is often equal parts ANGER and SORROW.
Psalm 4:3-8 Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. 4 Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.Selah … Look on us with favor, Lord. 7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound. 8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.
One more question: HOW DID JESUS HANDLE PERSONAL OFFENSE? (NOTE THAT NEITHER OF THE TWO “angry” PASSAGES ABOVE WERE ABOUT JESUS PERSONALLY being attacked/offended/insulted.)
1 Peter 2:21-23, “For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. 22 He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; 23 when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.”