Summary: Anger festers inside a man to dull his spirit.
1500 years ago Pope Gregory the Great took a list of seven sins and listed them in a Church catechism. He had reduced the number of deadly sins from 8 to 7 when he listed them in the church’s teaching. The 8th sin that was dropped from the list was the sin of people who sing bad solo’s in church. I’m just kidding, (vainglory) but since those times the church universal has held this list which is called “The Seven Deadly Sins.” We have looked at Pride, Greed, Envy, and today, Anger then there is Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony.
We know as believers that rather than sin we are to develop virtues of godliness. The early Church fathers also listed the corresponding virtues., instead of pride - humility, instead of greed – generosity, instead of envy – love, instead of anger God wants kindness, then zeal self-control, and temperance – corresponding to sloth, lust and gluttony.
This is a tough for sermon to preach because quite frankly I struggle with this one more than some others, though all the sins appeal to all of us. Anger can churn inside while on the exterior I remain pleasant. Someone in the church said to me last week, after your sermon on envy, I have to confess I am envious. I said, “Join the club. All seven sins appeal to all of us. Don’t be foolish and think you are not tempted. These seven deadly sins are attractive to all of us.
Most of us have the impression that all anger is sinful and that Christians are to be bland and almost emotionless. To be angry we think is to lack intelligence. I remember my mother constantly quoting Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And a lot of Christians lift out that verse all by itself and with a broad brush paint believers to be milk-toast wimps.
But the Bible tells us that at times Christians are to be angry against evil and injustice but they are not to sin. Anger against unrighteousness, under control is a powerful motivator.
Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.”
I remember one of the first stories I learned in Sunday School as a child was the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. You can find the story in Mark 11. Jesus saw the dishonest moneychangers in the temple courts and he then physical picked up a whip and drove out the animals and turned over the tables of the merchants. When I was a child in the church all I knew from that story is that when special musical guests came to the church they could sell their 8-track tapes or records in the church building they would set up their display table on the front porch of the church.
Jesus was perfect, he never sinned and yet in that story he was angry. He was physically expressive. There is a place for the believer to show righteous indignation. God gave us the emotion of anger to motivate us to do something about sin and injustice. If you are a Christian and you never get expressive about partial birth abortion or child abuse or racism or government corruption that hurts people in the public you probably don’t have a spiritual pulse. God himself gets angry, One time when the nation of Israel has traveled far into sin Isaiah prophesied in 5:25 “Therefore the LORD’S anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down.”