Be Ye Angry and Sin Not
Please stand with me as we go over our current memory Scripture:
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His Law he meditates day and night.”
And our memory Scripture “refresher” verse is:
1 Timothy 2:5-6
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people - this has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”
Today we will be reading from Ephesians 4:17-32
In the main Scripture we will be looking at today the apostle Paul is giving us instructions for Christian living.
The reason that my attention was drawn to this Scripture is that there is a quote by a preacher from the past named Leonard Ravenhill. And the quote goes like this, “If you attend church at all, you will undoubtedly hear a thousand sermons on ‘Be filled with the Spirit’ (Eph. 5:18) for every one sermon you hear preached on ‘Be ye angry, and sin not’.” (Eph.4:26).
Well, that last phrase “Be ye angry, and sin not” is found in Ephesians 4:26 KJV and if you trim the verse back a little more you get a singular command of “Be ye angry!”
Now, we know that there is great danger when you take a verse out of its context and even more danger when you lift a single fragment out of a verse that is taken out of its greater context.
So, let’s take a look and see if we are really supposed to be a gang of angry Christians! Ephesians 4:17-32
(Prayer for help)
As we read through the verses I hope you noticed that in more recent translations it does not say, “be ye angry” but it says, “in your anger”.
In verses 17-24 the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul is drawing a comparison between the lives of those who are unsaved and those who are saved.
This is how Paul describes those who do not know Jesus as their Savior, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.” Ephesians 4:18-19
On the other hand, we who are followers of Jesus were, “taught … to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24
Now, pretty much smack dab in the middle of this section we see the verse that Leonard Ravenhill was alluding to, which says, “Be ye angry, and sin not”, or, “In your anger do not sin”.
Why would the people in the Ephesian church be angry?
Why would the people in any church be angry with each other?
Could it be that they were living like the unsaved? Could it be that they had not completely left behind their former way of life and that were not being made new in the attitude of their minds?
Here are some fragments from verses 25-32 with instructions on how Christians SHOULD behave.
Work and do something useful with your hands
Stop gossiping and running each other down
Get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander and malice which is the desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another
When someone lies about us it may cause injury to our reputation or it may hurt our relationship with another person or it may cause a business deal to fall through. There are many ways that a lie about us could negatively affect our lives.
It might even cause us to become angry!
“In your anger do not sin …”
But … wouldn’t it feel sooooooo good to go and tell that liar off?
Wouldn’t it feel so good to find everyone who would listen and to tell them about the lie this person had told about you just so everyone would know what a liar that person is?
Wouldn’t it feel so good to tell an even bigger lie about THEM?
Wouldn’t it feel so good to scheme and to plot and to find a way to get back at that person so that sometime in some way when they least expect it; when they are most vulnerable you could get revenge?
Wouldn’t that feel great?
Well, it might … for a little while …
But what would the result be?
Perhaps it would end up in a life-long feud.
Perhaps it would divide a family or even a church.
Perhaps it would be a sin … no, not perhaps, it WOULD be a sin and in that case in our anger we would have sinned in disobedience to God’s Holy Word.
That is why the believers in Ephesus were instructed with this admonition, “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.” Ephesians 4:26-27
The second part of God’s admonition goes like this, “do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”.
When he says this He is not telling us to “just get over it.”
He is telling us lingering anger is a spiritual danger.
A lingering, unresolved anger would allow the evil one to get a “foothold” in our heart.
Have you ever seen video of a rock climber scaling a sheer cliff?
They search for the smallest imperfection in the rock. They are looking for the tiniest crevice or outcropping that they can grasp onto or use for a toe hold.
And, if they are not free-climbing, they will pound a piton into the crevice and attach a rope to it.
When we have anger that is not dealt with by the grace of God the devil will try to use that spiritual crevice as an anchor point and without the help of Jesus you won’t be able to shake him off.
From that point on the joy in your life will diminish or be gone altogether.
Your prayers will be hindered.
Your worship with be flat.
Your desire for the Word of God will be tasteless.
And, that is exactly why Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “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.”
What else beside a lie might cause us to be angry and to sin?
People stealing from you?
Working hard while others are lazy?
People gossiping and running each other down?
People trying to invoke a brawl with you or to slander you?
Someone who has a desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to you?
All of these could cause us to be angry and the list could go on an on.
Jesus tells us how to avoid living an angry life that gives the devil a foothold. He tells us this in what is called “The Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew.
In Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus says,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Today we will be observing communion.
The act of taking communion or observing the Lord’s Supper was being abused in the church in Corinth.
There were a lot of things that could and did cause anger among the worshipers in Corinth. One of the main problems was how communion was observed.
Just listen to what was happening as described in
1 Corinthians 11:20-22 …
“When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!”
Do you think that might cause some of the people of the church in Corinth to become angry?
They did not have individual servings that represented the body and blood of Jesus prepared for each person.
Apparently, each person brought their own food and drink if they could afford some. And, others, who were rich, would bring a great amount and they would feast and get drunk while the poor folks looked on, hungry and thirsty.
Do you think this might have caused some anger and division within the body of Christ, the church? Of course it did.
In John 13:34 it is recorded that Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
This, of course, was not being followed and it was divisive and it was a sin.
It was a sin on the part of the rich who were despising the poor among them and it was certainly a great temptation for the poor to become angry and to sin in their hearts against the rich and this absolutely gave a foothold to the devil in the Corinthian church.
And because of this blatantly sinful behavior Paul gives this warning in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 when he says,
“Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks from the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body of Christ eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
This is a pretty powerful warning.
Can you even imagine of sinning against the body and the blood of Jesus our Lord?
You see, these people were not eating and drinking in remembrance of Jesus body and blood that was given for them at all.
So, as we come to the time of communion how does this apply to us?
What if we have anger in our heart against a brother or sister in Christ that we have been hanging onto and refuse to let go of it?
What if that unresolved anger has allowed the devil to have a foothold in your life?
Can you come to the Lord’s Table and receive communion while you are refusing to allow the grace of God to work in your heart to take the anger and bitterness away?
1 Corinthians 11:28 says that,
“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.”
You see, communion is not about you and it’s not about me, it is about remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. It’s all about Him!
THAT is where God’s grace comes to meet us in communion.
His grace comes to us when we remember it is about Him.
It’s not about the bread or the juice, it’s about Him.
And we honor Him when we come to His Table with a heart that is clean before Him.
We honor Him when the devil has NO foothold in our lives.
We honor Him when our anger has been given over to Him and we are resting in His provision for unity within the body of Christ.
Communion is about remembering Him.
It is about honoring Him.
It is about looking forward to when we will sit down at the wedding supper of the Lamb in heaven.
Let’s take a few moments to examine ourselves to see if we can come to Him or if there is something we need to resolve first.
Final thoughts, communion and prayer.