Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
(Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV)
We are currently studying five warnings from the apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus – and by extension believers today – regarding ways they should live differently than the world around them. Yesterday we learned that we should not lie. Today Paul addresses anger.
Each of these warnings from Paul consists of 1) a command to stop doing something, 2) a command to do something else instead, and 3) a reason for this behavior change. But today’s has a bit of a twist.
Rather than telling us to simply not do something, the first part of today’s warning tells us to do something and not do something. We are to be angry but we are also told do not sin. This may seem confusing, but it actually makes sense.
Anger is not necessarily sin. Some anger is justified. God gets angry [Psalm 7:11; John 2:13-16]. But His anger is aroused by ungodliness, unrighteousness and the suppression of His truth [Romans 1:18]. God wants us to get angry at these things too. When we get angry we should evaluate our anger and ask ourselves if it is godly – is it something God would get angry at.
The way we should address our anger is to not let the sun go down on [our] anger. In other words, we are to deal with it quickly. First we are to evaluate it to determine if it is justified. If not, then stop being angry and seek God’s forgiveness. If it is justified, then address it if at all possible. Somethings are out of our control. In those cases, we have to let God handle it as David writes in Psalm 4.
The reason we need to deal with our anger is because anger that lingers gives an opportunity to the devil. Satan is constantly on the prowl looking to cause trouble [1 Peter 5:8]. His main tactic is divide and conquer, which he first used in the Garden of Eden and continues to use today.
If Satan can get believers angry at the wrong things, then he has an opportunity to cause us to sin. Sin separates us from God and each other. When it comes to non-believers Satan’s goal is to keep them from believing. When it comes to believers though – those of us who are already guaranteed of going to heaven – Satan’s goal is to keep us from growing spiritually.
It is our responsibility to deal with our anger. First and foremost, we should get angry at our own sin. When we remember that we are sinners the more patience and forgiveness we will have with the sinners around us, like our kids and coworkers. Humility cures a lot of sins. It also keeps the devil at bay.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.