Be angry yet do not sin (Sunday’s Sermon from Ephesians)

Yesterday was a great day at Good News. We had a full service. We had guests from the Southern part of Moldova, an ensemble that played and sang traditional Moldovan music with a Christian message. One of the men in the group shared his testimony of how God changed his life, from being wife beating alcoholic to a follower of Christ.

The church was also blessed to have a medical mission team that will join us in serving at one of our mission points in a village not too far from the city. The team consists of 20 doctors and nurses who will set up a mobile clinic. Using this service to the community, we want to form friendships, share the Gospel, and seek to start small group Bible studies that will blossom into a local church.

After these brothers and sisters shared an encouraging message with us, two of our members who had been gone on a two week mission trip to Romania shared about their experience. They visited two cities in Romania where they worked with the local church to teach computers in two different public schools. The churches were a little skeptical at first because they did not think that the school would accept a program where the Bible is taught. To their amazement, the school was open. The girls shared with members of the churches about the media summer school that we will hold this summer in Moldova and invited them to come to learn how to teach these computer materials in their churches as well as in the schools. It was a very encouraging testimony.

After all of these events, our Senior pastor, Vasile Filat shared the next message in his series on Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.

26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN ; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer ; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4)

I. God allows us to be angry

Being angry is not a sin, especially when it is over injustice or the fact that evil prospers. There are several cases in the Bible where we see righteous indignation. Peter, Paul, Jesus, God Himself all had moments of anger based on injustice or evil prospering. God sets a few limits when it comes to being angry. Fist, the anger is based on righteous indignation. Your anger is not to control you and not to remain unresolved in your heart for more than a day. God tells us that we are not to let the sun go down on our anger. If you do not deal with the anger then it will over take you. It may have begun as righteous indignation but will quickly get its grips on you and enslave you if not resolved in time.

II. Do not be controlled by anger because it opens the door to sin

The verse that follows is about stealing. What does stealing have to do with anger? How do you feel when someone steals something from you? What is your initial reaction? We usually get angry and if we let that anger control us then we open the door for the enemy to cause us to sin.

There are specific sins that follow as a result of being controlled by anger.

  • grieving the Holy Spirit – this happens when you do not immediately obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance. When you are walking in obedience with the Lord, the Holy Spirit’s voice is very loud in your head, especially when you are about to do something wrong. As you choose not to listen to the Spirit’s voice, the sound gets softer and softer until you no longer seem to hear it. This is what it means to “grieve” the Holy Spirit
  • unwholesome words – the literal Greek word that is translated as unwholesome is putrefied. When you open your mouth, the words that exit do not build up but instead, they are like the smell coming out of a grave once the casket has been opened several weeks after burial. This is what Martha told Jesus when He wanted to remove the stone in front of Lazarus’ tomb. When angry, especially while being controlled by anger, unwholesome words tend to slip out of our mouths.
  • bitterness – this word means to be pierced (the root of the Greek word). An event happened to you and you cannot get over it. It just eats at you until you get angry and that prolonged anger turns to bitterness. It is a deep root that will produce all kinds of sinful actions. Bitterness is an attitude that produces actions. A bitter person always seems to speak negatively about everything. It is like a person with a tightly wound spring just waiting for that lucky person to push the right button (or any button).
  • wrath – this is one of the results of being bitter. It carries the idea of water on the brink of boiling. It sits in a cup, full to the brim and just needs one more drop to overflow. The little drops of bitterness built up to the rim and just a little spark caused the water to boil and overflow.
  • anger – this is a character trait. It is the trait of a person who is led by impulse and he reacts based on that impulse. This person blows up and then says things like, “it was just an accident. I did not mean it. It was an impulse.”
  • clamor – this word carried the idea of literally having a shouting match. When a person is full of bitter, wrath, and anger then all it takes is the drop of a hat to start a shouting match. Have you ever dealt with people like this? Are you a person like this? Remember, Paul is writing to a church that is full of born again believers and they were having a problem with these things.
  • slander – After the shouting match, usually people run and then begin to talk bad about the person. The actual word that is translated “slander” is “blasphemy”. This means deliberately distorting the truth about someone to make that person look bad. When the Pharisees attributed the clear work of the Holy Spirit to demons. That was blasphemy. They knew the truth but deliberately distorted the facts to try and lead others astray.
  • malice – this literally means bad nature or in a bad mood all the time as well as wishing and causing bad to others. This person laughs when bad things happen to others.

God’s command to us as believers is to do away with these things, to throw them out. The literal word picture is to sweep those things out of your life. So, are any of these attitudes and actions a part of your life? Do you find yourself being angry and bitter? Maybe someone has done something to you and caused you to be angry, righteous indignation? If that is the case, getting angry is not sin but if you allow that anger to control you then you will become bitter and the other characteristics will begin to manifest themselves in your life. Today is the day to sweep the anger out of your life. Today is the day to have a change of attitude.

III. Be in control of yourself

In order to be in control of your emotions, even the emotion of anger, you must have the Holy Spirit and you must walk by the Holy Spirit’s leading. You must view others the way that God does, seeking to work hard so that you will be able to serve the people around you. You must speak words that edify the people around you, even in anger. If someone makes you angry, use the opportunity to edify others. Be kind to others, even to those who are not kind to you. Bad situations can be turned around for good if you will be led by the Holy Spirit instead of being controlled by your emotions, your anger. Be tender hearted. This means being compassionate towards others, feeling what they feel, wanting to help when you can. Be ready to forgive the people who have done you wrong, even if they do not deserve it. You can forgive someone without being reconciled with that person. Forgiveness is a one way street but reconciliation is a two way one. As the saying goes, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”. When we have and live by the Holy Spirit then we are able to forgive even the worst of acts committed against us because God forgave us while we were His enemies. He forgave those who put His Son to death.

What is your relationship to anger, do you control it or does it control you? Are you being led by the Holy Spirit or do you grieve the Holy Spirit by your attitude and actions? How do you respond when people make you angry? Are you quick to forgive people or just waiting to unload on them what they deserve? May the Lord help us to learn to forgive others the same way that God has forgiven us.

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