Summary: A sermon on the danger of anger and how Jesus would have us handle anger.
The Enemy Within: Anger. Matt. 5:21-24
INTRO.: Matt. 5:21-48 records a group of six sayings Bible scholars sometimes call the “antitheses” section of the Sermon on the Mount. They set Jesus’ teachings in contrast to the legalistic practices of the religious leaders. Each begins, “you have heard, but I say . . .” Some relate very closely to the beatitudes given in verses 1-12.
They all relate to verse 20 and show how one’s righteousness may exceed that of Scribes and Pharisees.
The words “without a cause” appear only in the King James and are in none of the important manuscripts. Who will ever admit to being angry without a cause?
I. Let’s look at the righteousness of the Pharisees as it relates to this enemy within:
A. Pharisees took Ex. 20:13 literally. They were literalists:
1. They would never murder. That’s good.
2. Yet, they murdered Jesus. How could they justify this?
3. They didn’t drive the nails, so they rationalized, they didn’t kill Him. They limited their obedience to the letter of the Law.
4. They used the Law to kill Jesus. Jn . 19:7
5. The human tendency is always to use the law rather than obey it.
6. The problem with legalism is it doesn’t effect the heart.
B. Legalists use “thou shalt not kill” today:
1. To prohibit war, capital punishment, eating meat, hunting, euthanasia, etc.
2. Both the Old Testament and New Testament words mean “murder,” and should be so translated.
3. Legalists will use the Law to make a point. This is what the Pharisees did.
4. Criminals use the law to try to gain freedom on a technicality even though they don’t respect law.
C. But, Jesus’ concern is for internal righteousness:
1. Legalists just try to look good.
2. Jesus says our faith must change our heart then our behavior will follow.
II. Jesus has a standard, stated in verse 22:
A. He warns against angry thoughts:
1. We can’t be prosecuted for angry thoughts.
2. Humanly speaking, we can get away with them.
3. But they are spiritually destructive. They “fry” the spirit like lightening fries a computer.
4. Jesus refers to a lingering, vengeful anger. The worst kind. A grudge.
B. He also warns against angry words:
1. Words we use to humiliate others.
2. “Raca” means empty-headed fool, idiot, bungler.
3. “Fool” had a moral connotation and reflected on one’s reputation and smeared his name.
C. But, can thoughts and words actually be controlled?
1. Anger is natural. It is possible to be angry and not sin. Eph 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”
2. Anger motivates us against injustice. Mark 3:5 ff.
3. It is difficult to control angry thoughts and words
4. With God’s help, we can if we really want to do so.
III. Jesus gives us some guidance about dealing with anger: Matt. 5:23, 24
A. First, remember anger separates us from God. Even our gifts may be unacceptable to Him.
1. Anger hinders prayer. I Tim. 2:8
2. It blocks forgiveness. Matt. 6:14
3. Has no spiritual benefit. James 1:20
B. Anger gives Satan an opening into our lives if:
1. Expressed as rage
2. Pent up.
4. Allowed to separate brothers from each other.