Summary: Anger, in and of itself, is not a sin. Yet anger can lead to some very serious sins. This sermon was developed to focus on men since many of ladies and teens were on trips..
“…and do not sin.”
Text: Psalm 4:1-4
With so many ladies and teens gone, I thought I’d focus on the most likely group remaining – the men. Of course, the lesson will be applicable to all but it’s probably a sin more prevalent among males or, at least, is more visible. The reading came from the 4th Psalm this morning but I really had another passage in mind when I was choosing my subject and sermon title for this morning – one that cites this passage. So I hope you’ll open your Bibles this morning to Ephesians 4:25-32 as we begin our study this morning – “…and do not sin.” Then I pray you’ll be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures daily this week to make sure I’ve preached the truth.
Ephesians 4 is one of the great chapters of the Bible as it outlines the seven ones – one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in you all (verses 4-6). As we move toward the text we want to examine, we encounter the new man in verse 17 and following who has been buried with Christ in baptism – created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. I don’t know about you but those last two descriptions of who I’m supposed to be stun me – righteous and holy. But let’s now continue by reading beginning in verse 25 about what this new man should be doing: Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Brothers and sisters, do these verses describe us? And, if they don’t, we need to make some changes in our lives. But the sin I want to focus on is anger as mentioned in verse 26 – “Be angry, and do not sin.” Or, as many of us learned it: “Be ye angry, and sin not.” Women and children have to wrestle with anger but it’s the men who most often let their anger get out of control. Statistics of beatings, fights, murders, road rage, assaults, spousal abuse and child abuse attest to the propensity of men to anger. Before we look deeper at this sin, I want us to notice two things. 1st of all, anger was near the top of the list in Ephesians 4:31 but is at the top of the list in Colossians 3:8. As we read this verse, notice the close association of all these terms. For example, when do men and others really make a scene with their cursing and blasphemy? Isn’t it when they’re angry and losing their tempers? As in Ephesians, Paul is addressing those who are Christians – those who have put on the new man – those who were raised with Christ after burial with Him in baptism – Colossians 2:12 and 3:1. Now notice verse 8: But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Yet, secondly, anger in and of itself is not a sin. The exhortation in Psalm 4 cited by Paul in Ephesians 4 is “Be angry, and do not sin.” Even Jesus got angry. Turn with me to Mark 3:1-5 and let’s read these verses together: And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. I like J.W. McGarvey’s comments on the 1st part of verse 5: Anger, when rightly directed and controlled, is not a sinful feeling; but it is a dangerous one, because it is very likely to end in sinful speech or action: hence the admonition of Paul, “Be angry and sin not. Let not the sun go down on your wrath.” In this case Jesus showed anger only in his look: there was none in his words. With this framework of anger, let’s delve into our lesson with three main points. First of all, do not let your anger control you. While we could probably cite several examples from scripture of those who had difficulty controlling their anger, I’d like to go to the first example of this in the Bible – in Genesis 4:1-8. This is very familiar account but is a perfect example of someone who let anger control him instead of controlling his anger. Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.