ANGER: THE LETHAL KILLER
Many people are locked up behind prison walls because they let their anger control them, rather than controlling their anger. Many marriages have come apart because anger got out of hand. Many children have parted ways with other brothers or sisters or parents, due to anger. Many people have been handicapped by sickness and disease because anger was never dealt with, but buried. Many people will not make it to heaven because they allowed destructive anger at God to takes them to their grave. Love brings people together, but anger can tear it apart in just a few seconds.
Some believe anger is a ‘normal’ emotion. God might take issue with that. Holy anger – God has no problem with. Destructive anger – God is not for. Destructive anger is a form of emotional and spiritual cancer. Its sole purpose is to destroy, one way or the other.
Holy anger God is for. When someone hurts a loved one of ours for no good reason, righteous anger kicks in and we want that person corrected, don’t we? When evil triumphs over good, holy anger are triggered, and when possible, we want evil stopped so righteousness can reign.
Yet Of all the emotions we can have, God tells us that anger is the one emotion that gives the devil not only a generous invite, but an OPEN DOOR to step into our house and devour us in one way or another if we don’t close that door quickly.
Allow me to say that just a little differently, to make sure the point is clearly made. There is no place else in the entire Bible that tells us that we give Satan not only an invite, but we open up the door for him to step into our temple and devour us in one way or another if we don’t deal with our anger quickly and wisely.
We find this warning in Ephesians 4:26-27:
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV Translation)
Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (NKJV Translation)
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (RS Translation)
If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry ‘ get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil. (Living Bible Paraphrase Translation)
Let’s dissect this scripture passage to make certain we know what God is telling us in it. Most importantly, God is telling us that when we are angered, WE ARE UNWISE TO SIN. Anger tempts us to strike back; get even; be vindicated; make the one who angered us pay for their wrongdoing. This is where God says to restrain ourselves because the action we take against the one who is angering us will most likely be in if we don’t filter it first through God’s counsel.
How many of us have learned to go to God first and ask Him what we’re to do about the one (or the situation) who has angered us? Doing so will keep us from sinning, most likely. God’s counsel, if we’re willing to listen to it and obey it, will never result in our sinning when we’re angered. Without seeking God’s counsel first — almost always, our action against the one who has angered us will result in us sinning, and when that happens, we can expect demons to be looking for a way to get a foothold.
I believe God gave us a clear example of what we are to do when anger in us brings our blood to the boiling point. This example is found in Luke 23:34. Jesus is dying on the cross. Certain ones were mocking and sneering at Him. The whole ordeal that led up to Him being beaten unmercifully and then Him painfully about to die on the cross that day may well have tempted Him to take on a spirit of bitterness that was the by-product of low-level anger. I chose to believe this may well have been His very last temptation to sin and to make certain He didn’t give into that temptation, this is what He stated and prayed:
‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’
I concede to the possibility that He might not have been dealing with His temptation to become angry and strike out at those mocking Him, but rather, sensing that the Father was about to execute some of His angry wrath on them right then and there — Jesus asked Him not to.
Whatever the case, we see what was used to defuse either Jesus’ anger, the Father’s anger, or both their anger: Forgiveness.
Now, I don’t believe for one moment that the Father forgave anyone there that day that enjoyed Jesus being crucified. His anger may have been tempered for the moment by what Jesus asked Him to do, but they would never be forgiven for what they did, with one exception. If they repented to the Father for what they did, and put their trust in Jesus as the One and only true Messiah that could and would save them from their sins ‘ then yes, the Father would forgive them.
Forgiveness is God’s primary means by which we are to make certain we don’t sin when we are angered. Forgiveness is wisdom; forgiveness is a weapon God wants us to use when we are angered, so we can keep demons from gaining a foothold in our affairs.
Sometimes anger will resurface in us even though we have already forgiven someone for what they did. Wisdom dictates that we engage in forgiveness again when that happens. One-time forgiveness does not always keep demons out of our situation. We need to forgive as often as anger rises in us, as protection for us against demonic forces potentially gaining a foothold.
God tells us in Matthew 5:44: ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’
Have you ever considered the possibility that the greatest reason why God is telling us to do these things is for OUR protection from evil; to keep us from being continually angered and bitter against those who are harming us, whereby not giving the devil a foothold? In fact ‘ is God telling us to see Matthew 5:44 as a spiritual weapon for OUR good ‘ for our divine protection? Seems to me He is.
Forgiving those who anger us is placing the person or people into God’s heavenly court of Justice. Forgiving someone who has hurt us does not necessarily mean we will not have God’s leading for earthly justice to be executed against that person either. If someone kills my wife in cold blood, I’m to forgive that person for doing so for MY good ‘ to defuse my anger against that person ‘ but that doesn’t mean I ask the judge to not have this murderer serve the rest of his/her life in prison to pay for their crime.
As we move closer to the return of Jesus Christ to earth, I suspect more and more evil (injustice) will be launched against Christians as a whole. Odds most likely will increase in Christians to be tempted to take on low-level anger against God for allowing increased suffering to happen to them. High-level anger against God, we easily recognize. Low-level anger against God is the kind that Satan delights in us having, because when we keep our anger against God at low, ‘manageable levels,’ it then translates into bitterness. Bitterness is spiritual cancer, folks. It is slow yet lethal suicide. Bitterness against God or anyone else actually sins. Bitterness is the evidence that I need to engage in a whole lot more forgiveness toward the situation that is making me bitter.
When bitterness against God is buried beneath the surface in us, we tend not to consciously recognize it. Others can often spot it if they around us long enough, but we often can’t, and sometimes refuse to even admit to it when others bring it to our attention. Our pride can make certain of it!
Bitterness against God gives Satan a potential foothold that none of us can afford to carry around. Once Satan gets a foothold, he’ll subtly convince you that God cannot be trusted. He’ll subtly convince you that God is not really a good God after all, but rather a God that is not nearly as lovable and trustworthy as you once believed He is. Your desire to pray will lesson; your desire to be used by God to minister to others will die; your desire to fellowship with other Christian believers most likely will die. Your whole concept of God will slowly become distorted, once Satan has gained his foothold.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 speaks of ‘a great falling away’ prior to the return of Jesus Christ. Could Christians packing low-level bitterness against God because God isn’t meeting ‘their’ expectations be partly what God is speaking of regarding this ‘great falling away’?
The greatest trial (testing) for the Body of Christ as a whole may visit us sooner than what we care to think. Could a trial of ‘anger against God and maybe even anger against certain of God’s people’ be part of what Revelation 3:10 is addressing?
The wisdom to STOP Satan from getting any foothold in your life when you are tempted to be angry at God (and/or angry at God’s people) is to tell God one hundred times a day if necessary that you forgive Him for allowing what has happened to cause you to be tempted to be angry at Him.
Remember as well, it is never the Holy Spirit tempting you to be angry at God ‘ for ANYTHING. That temptation comes from our fallen fleshly nature, with demons fueling it. The wise Christian learns that being angry at God is NEVER an option. If we’re to be angry at any supernatural being, it’s to be angry with the devil, not God! Satan wants just the opposite. He wants us angry with God, and he has some crafty ways of bringing the temptation about.
I recently had a long distance conversation over the phone with one of my brother in the Lord. We were dialoguing about these matters addressed here. He made this statement to me, which is so wise, and bears sharing here:
‘The main reason why people struggle with God when pain and suffering visit them ‘ especially ‘unjust suffering’ – is because they have not come to realize that God is truly a GOOD God, and everything God allows to happen in the life of a Christian is truly being allowed for their ultimate good.’
Do you believe God is ONLY a ‘good God?’ If not, if you are a Christian ‘ most likely, your spiritual boat is going to get severely rocked sometime before you die. God will make certain of it. Real trust and lasting peace in every storm with God can never take place in most of us until God has us pinned up against His invisible wall, and He’s asking us to come to a final conclusion in the matter:
‘Make up your mind what you truly believe about me. Decide whether I’m truly a good God and cannot possibly be anything but a good God ‘ or that I can be a ‘bad’ God as well if I decide to be.’
A Christian who has not come to the place where they believe with every fiber in their being that God can be nothing but only a good God is one who is very, very vulnerable to having the devil gain a foothold in their life. Why do I say this? Because destructive anger will turn to destructive bitterness, and God does not tend to bless those who are holding onto bitterness against Him. God’s nature is to bless Christians with divine protection for those who will deal with their anger quickly.
Dear reader, be wise. Don’t open the door for Satan to get a foothold in your life. Let the Holy Spirit impart to you Godly wisdom every time you are tempted to become angry. It will pay huge dividends, both in this life and the next.
God doesn’t say we’re just to ‘control’ our anger, though that is vitally important to do as the first step. He says, ‘Put it away! Give no place to it period!’
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)