Freedom Form The Spirit Of Anger
S. M. Davis - Park Meadows Baptist Church - Lincoln, Illinois
Dr. Davis can be contacted at www.solvefamilyproblems.com
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1 - THE BIBLE MENTIONS BOTH PERSONAL AND IMPERSONAL SPIRITS.
2 - WE MUST TRY THE SPIRIT COMING FROM OURíS AND OTHER PEOPLEíS SPIRITS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE OF God.
3 - THERE IS A GREAT POSSIBILITY THAT WE MAY NOT REALIZE IT WHEN OUR SPIRIT IS PUTTING OFF THE WRONG SPIRIT.
4 - VICTORY IN THE AREA OF THE SPIRIT OTHERS SENSE COMING FROM YOU IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN VICTORY IN THE AREA OF ACTIONS OTHERS SEE YOU DOING.
5 - THERE IS NO BIBLICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR ANGER OR A SPIRIT OF ANGER.
I talked to a committed Christian father who was having problems with his 16 year old, third born daughter. She was attending a large Christian school and had developed a dangerous soul tie with another girl in the school. The daughter had a bad attitude, but was still somewhat obedient.
One night the father tells that he came home and "our daughter asked to talk to me outside. She told me she had been arrested with her friend for shoplifting. She was crying and seemed truly sorry for what she had done. I told her that I was glad she had gotten caught. I asked if it was the first time she had done this and she said it was. I asked her if it was the first time her friend had done it. She didnít want to answer me but finally admitted that it wasnít the first time for her friend. The school expelled both girls for a semester.
"We home schooled our daughter and she was diligent in doing her studies. The big mistake we made during this period was allowing her to stay in contact with her friend. She was constantly on the phone with her.
"When the new semester started, both girls were readmitted to school. Our daughter spent the night before school started at her friendís house. After the first day we found out both girls had been called to the principalís office for wearing their skirts too short. Our daughter had been belligerent to the assistant principal about it. I didnít trust myself to talk to her.
"One evening I needed the phone line. My daughter had been on the line to her friend. When she finally got off, she said to me, ĎYou need to get your own line.í This broke the camelís back and released a torrent of anger that scared my daughter and I could see the hatred for me in her eyes. She left home the next day and spent the next three days with her friend.
"I called her up the third day and apologized. She came back home but our home was filled with tension.
"Next I started taping her phone conversations. I found out horrible things she had been doing and that there was a boy involved who was in rebellion against his father and smoking marijuana.
"We decided to confront my daughter with her sin and institute measures to get her heart back. I first confessed my sin. I couldnít keep from crying as I asked for her forgiveness.
"When asked if there was anything she would like to confess, she said ĎNo.í Then I sat the tape recorder on the table and started the tape. She began screaming, ĎI hate you! I hate you! Iím glad I did those things! I did those things so I wouldnít be like you!"
The father cleansed his daughterís room, then separated her completely from her friends. Her friend found out and reported them to the state. An HRS representative showed up at their house.
A letter intercepted from the friend said, "I called HRS. If you talk to them, tell them youíre scared for your life. If you really want out, hurt yourself and say your Dad beats you. If I can get you a cell phone, we are going to buy a teddy bear and put it inside."
With his Pastorís permission I talked to the father. I suggested that he get away from home and spend time one on one with his daughter in a remote area. He took several of my videos and watched one per day in a certain order and then discussed each one with his daughter.
For two weeks they "roughed it" in the mountains of Northern Georgia. I talked to him once or twice, but he was seeing no headway.
My oldest daughter, who has seen some success in counseling with rebellious girls, talked to the girl. The girl was polite, but very hard.
A few days later we were in Knoxville and met the father, mother, and daughter. My wife talked to the girl. She was the worst kind of rebelĖpolite and nice on the outside and rejecting everything on the inside. My wife said to me, "I donít know. Sheís pretty hard. I donít think sheís going to change."
In Luke 9:51-56 we read:
"And it came to pass, when the time was come that [Jesus] should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
Notice that Jesus didnít say: "You donít realize what youíre saying."
Jesus said, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of."
The meaning was: "You donít realize the spirit that is coming from you; you donít realize the spirit that your spirit is putting off, or emitting, or revealing."
1 - THE BIBLE MENTIONS BOTH PERSONAL AND IMPERSONAL SPIRITS.
The Greek word "pneuma" translated "spirit" may be used in relation to the personal Holy Spirit in one verse; a personal evil spirit in another verse; and an impersonal spirit of meekness or truth or error or holiness or life and so on in some other verses. The phrase "spirit of" occurs 139 times in the Bible.
To properly understand this, we need to recognize that there is a division between:
(1) Your spirit
(2) Good and bad spirits, whether personal or impersonal, that affect your spirit.
(3) The spirit that others sense coming from your spirit. This is not necessarily either a demonic or an angelic spirit. This is simply what others sense coming from your spirit.
A mother noticed that her obnoxious little boy had become kind and considerate after spending time around a certain teacher. She said, "What does Mrs. Smith do to teach you to be polite, Johnny?" "She doesnít do anything, Mom. She just walks around, and we feel polite."
2 - WE MUST "TRY" THE SPIRIT COMING FROM OURíS AND OTHER PEOPLEíS SPIRITS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE OF God.
1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God . . ."
The context means we should try the spirits to see if they are of God or of Satan. But the principle would carry over further. This would mean that you and I must "try, test, examine, and scrutinize" the spirit coming from our own spirit as well as the spirit coming from other peopleís spirits.
James and John were good men - righteous men- men with good motives- men who wanted to please Jesus. But Jesus said, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." "You donít realize the spirit that is coming from you; you donít realize the spirit that your spirit is putting off or emitting or revealing."
3 - There is a great possibility that we may not realize it when our spirit is putting off the wrong spirit.
James and John didnít. And their spirit of anger was so intense and severe that they wanted to destroy an entire village full of people!
Think about Proverbs 16:2 here: "All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits."
Jesus dealt with the possibility of our being blinded to major faults in our own life, especially in our relationships with others, in Matthew 7:3: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brotherís eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye."
How could anyone have a huge log in his eye and not know it? James and John did. And you and I may as well.
How easy it is to see the mote of our wife's lack of respect and yet not to see the beam of our own spirit of anger.
How easy to see the mote of our childrenís disobedience or stubbornness and yet not see the beam of our own wrath.
One way you might tell whether or not you have a problem in this area is to ask yourself if your father or grandfather had the problem. Anger is one of those sins that is often like a family curse that passes down the generations from grandfather to father to son, etc.
The father in my opening illustration told me: "I got interested in my family history. I know my father always had a real problem with anger. There are still aunts and uncles who knew my grandfather. With little if any prompting, I heard stories about his anger. To top it all off, I found newspaper articles from the 1880's that tell of the fights that my great grandfather got into because of his temper."
My wife and I were at a church in another state. A father with a rebellious 17 year old daughter and a rebellious 15 year old son asked to take us to the airport so he could talk to us along the way.
As we rode along, the man described the problems with his children and how he had tried to deal with them and that nothing seemed to be working.
I said to him, "Do you have a problem with anger?"
"Yes," he replied, "and I traced it back to some guilt from some earlier unresolved conflicts. Then I went back and dealt with those things."
"That's wonderful. So do you still have a problem with anger?"
"Occasionally, but not very often."
"What do you do when you get angry?"
"Well, I've made myself accountable to my wife and my children. Any time I get angry I give the children $20 and I give my wife $50."
"So how much have you paid out in the last few months?"
"Well, I'd say I've paid $150 to $200 to each of the children and probably $500 to $600 to my wife."
In a little while Iíll tell you the rest of our conversation.
What is the difference between anger and an angry spirit?
An angry spirit manifests itself in a harshness that keeps those around us on edge.
An angry spirit cuts back on a personís life potential. A person may have all kinds of talents, abilities, and potential. He may be loving, kind, and gentle. But the angry spirit causes people to be afraid to be around him.
Let me clarify here. Iím not talking about the fearful respect that accompanies almost any strong leader. Iím talking about a wrong sense of fear that is created by the unpredictability of a man or womanís angry spirit.
The spirit of anger is the very opposite of the spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of meekness and gentleness.
A spirit of anger is sometimes evident in a personís tone of voice, even when he is carrying on a normal conversation.
A wonderful couple came to talk to me about what they could do to reach their rebellious son. I said to them, "Do you have a problem with anger?" "Well, yes, but we feel like weíve been dealing with it."
Finally I said, "I need to help you. You both have a spirit of anger that comes out in your attitude, your tone of voice, and your demeanor."
We talked for another 30 minutes. They couldnít see it. So while we talked, I stopped each of them two or three times and said, "There it is. Listen to yourself. There was a harshness in your voice or in your attitude.
This couple was so humble and teachable. They kept saying, "Thank you! We want to see it. Keep pointing it out to us."
Finally I said, "Make yourself accountable to other family members. It wonít be easy. Youíll need to say to other family members, "Correct me, not just for outbursts of anger, but for any time you even sense a spirit of anger or hear a tone of anger in my voice."
All three of their children, now nearly grown, have been rebellious at one time or another.
I talked to the youngest child two to three months later. "Has your Dad dealt with his anger?" "Yes." "How about your Mom?" "Yes." "What do you think?" "Itís pretty amazing."
Remember that weíre dealing with the spirit of things.
Incidentally, consider this as one definition of the fullness of the Holy Spirit: The fullness of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit so controlling your spirit that no spirit that is a wrong spirit is able to do so.
4 - VICTORY IN THE AREA OF THE SPIRIT OTHERS SENSE COMING FROM YOU IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN VICTORY IN THE AREA OF ACTIONS OTHERS SEE YOU DOING.
Itís good to obey the letter of the law.
Itís better to obey the spirit of the law.
Galatians 5:18 says, "but if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law."
How easy it is to be deceived in this area and feel like youíre fine because you obey the letter of the law but disobey the spirit of the law. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees in this area in Matthew 23:23: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
If you get the spirit area right, then the actions will eventually take care of themselves. But just getting certain actions right gives no guarantee at all that other actions will be right.
Note that the spirit of obedience is more important than the letter of obedience. Iím sure that most of you have heard the story of the little boy who defiantly obeyed and sat down when told to do so, but then said to his mother, "Iím still standing up on the inside!"
This principle is true in relation to anger as well. It is more important to have victory over the spirit of anger than over outward manifestations of anger.
The truth is this: WHERE THERE IS VICTORY IN THE SPIRIT THERE IS FAR MORE LIKELY TO BE VICTORY IN THE OUTWARD MANIFESTATIONS.
I wonder if this isnít what the Bible means when it tells us to be "slow to wrath."
Step away, not just from anger, but from getting angry. Deal with the attitude toward anger and the action wonít be nearly as likely to be a problem.
Sometimes I talk to parents who wonder why there is so much contention and division in their homes. We want our children to obey and have sweet spirits and attitudes, but if a father or mother in a home is full of anger then that anger will stir up strife. Proverbs 29:22 says, "An angry man stirreth up strife."
That same principle is also true in the church. One pastor who heard these truths testified, "Iíve gone from church to church all my life and always blamed the people. I realize for the first time in my life that itís really my fault. I wish I had heard this 20 years ago!"
5 - THERE IS NO BIBLICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR ANGER OR A SPIRIT OF ANGER.
Allow me to give you an observation here about the typical Christianís attitude toward anger. See if you agree with me. The typical Christian thinks, "Well, anger may be bad at times, especially if it causes you to hurt or kill someone. But there is a place for anger. Anger may be a useful tool in the right setting or situation. Sometimes anger is the only thing that will work to bring someone into line. Releasing anger releases tension and if you donít release it then it can be bad for you. And, of course, there has always been a need for Ďrighteous indignationí."
Of course, my opinion or your opinion doesnít really matter. All that matters is: What does the Bible say?
Psalm 37:8 says, "cease from anger and forsake wrath." Notice what this verse does not say. It does not say, "keep spiritual anger and forsake carnal anger."
Proverbs 19: 19 says, "A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again."
Proverbs 27: 4 says, "wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous." "Outrageous" means "like a downpour or a flood." Itís not possible to have a little bit of anger. Anger is a flood.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, "anger resteth in the bosom of fools."
My wife and I were riding along in the car with the man who had paid $1000 to his wife and children for his anger.
I looked at him and said, "part of your problem is that youíre not taking your anger seriously enough." I read to him Galatians 5: 19-20. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, etc."
Then I said, "there are some things in life you get victory over because you know you just canít do them. The consequences are far too great. There are some things you just donít do at your house.
You donít bring X rated movies into your house and watch them as a family.
You donít bring an idol into your living room and bow down before it.
You donít have a witch come into your house and hold a seance.
And you donít get angry in your house.
Ephesians 4: 31 says, "let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger... be put away from you."
A father called me who had a rebellious 15 year old daughter and six more children. The daughter had run away once for a few hours and then returned home. The father admitted to me that he had a problem with anger. But I could tell that he didnít realize how serious his problem really was. He began to gloss over the problem by telling me the high standards that he maintained in his home.
He felt that his daughter was reacting to his standards.
He told me had no TV, no rock music, no immodest clothing, etc.
Finally I asked, "How often do you get angry?" "About twice a month."
I seemed to sense a spirit of pride and harshness in his voice in the way he dealt with standards with his family.
I said, "Sir, Iím glad you donít have a TV. But youíd probably be better off to let a TV run 24 hours a day than to get angry twice a month. You have no idea the amount of destruction your anger is bringing to your family."
Another man told me he had a problem with anger, but he didnít think it was too bad. He said he only got mad once every couple of months.
I said, "How would you like to live next door to a volcano that only explodes once every couple of months?" Incidentally, he didnít know it, but his family was sensing his spirit of anger all the other days of those months.
Colossians 3: 8 says, "but now ye put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication ...." Notice that anger and wrath are in the same classification as blasphemy and filthy language.
1 Timothy 2: 8 says, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." Holy hands are hands without any wrath.
Titus 1:7 gives one of the qualifications for a bishop: "not soon angry." That means "not prone to anger."
James 1:20 says, "for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
The wrath of man is always wrong. It is always carnal. It is never spiritual and never righteous.
Iíve been asked, "but isnít there such a thing as Ďrighteous indignationí."
That phrase- those two words- are never used together in the Scriptures.
The only adjectives used to describe "indignation" are "great" and "fiery." They are used four times. Twice it is Godís "great or fiery indignation," and twice it is manís "great indignation." The indignation of God was righteous. The indignation of man was sin.
Some think, "but couldnít God gave his wrath to someone?"
If he did, he would violate his own command in Ephesians 4: 31 to "let all wrath and anger be put away from you."
There are illustrations in the Bible where it looks like someone is receiving or assuming Godís wrath. But when you see the result, you realize that man cannot handle wrath at all, even Godís wrath.
If God gave "righteous indignation" to a man that man would make it unrighteous indignation immediately.
In Numbers 11: 10 we are told that "the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses was also displeased." It appears there that Godís anger has stirred Moses to become angry. Five verses later Moses asked God to kill him.
When Samson got angry, he stopped fighting for the Lord and started carrying out personal vengeance.
In Jeremiah 6: 11 Jeremiah said, "therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord." A study of the entire passage shows that Jeremiah was saying that the message he was preaching was a message full of the wrath and fury of God.
When I first read 1Samuel 11:6 I thought it must be an exception. "And the spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly." The more I studied, the more I came to realize that Saulís anger being kindled was simply a statement of fact. It wasnít needed or useful. All he needed was the power of the Holy Spirit along with courage and discernment.
That anger and its resulting bitterness which Saul didnít deal with early in his life caused problems with his son, his wife, his sonís loyal friend David, and eventually cost him his position as king and cost him his life.
The two questions I am most commonly asked by people who defend anger are:
(1) But didnít Jesus get angry?
(2) How about the verse that says, "Be ye angry and sin not"?
Letís look at the first question. Did Jesus get angry?
I read every verse in the Bible that uses the following seven words: anger, angry, wrath, wroth, fury, furious, and indignation. Those words occur a total of 584 times in the Bible.
I was amazed to discover how many of those occurrences involved Godís wrath.
In fact, I was so amazed I decided I would go back and count all the verses that did involve Godís wrath. Out of the 584 occurrences, 470 appeared to me to refer to the wrath, anger, fury, or indignation of God.
Thatís 4 out of 5 times, or 80 percent!
Verses about the Lord burning with anger are very common.
In Numbers 11 the children of Israel complained and wept about having nothing but manna to eat. Verse 10 says, "and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly."
In Joshua 7 Achan took things from the city of Jericho that were dedicated to the Lord. Verse one says, "and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel." When Achan was stoned and "they raised over him a great heap of stones" then "the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger."
In 2 Samuel 6 Uzzah put up his hand to steady the ark when it started to fall off the oxcart. "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there . . . And there he died by the ark of God."
1 Kings 14:15 talks about how Jeroboam provoked the Lord to anger when he led the people to worship calves of gold.
King Ahab not only led the people to worship Baal but let Jezebel have Naboth murdered and stole his vineyard. 1 Kings 16:33 says that "Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him."
2 Kings 21:6 tells how Manasseh "made his son pass through the fire . . . And dealt with familiar spirits and wizards; he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger."
Isaiah 30:27 says, "behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger . . ."
Verses like these appear hundreds of times in the Scriptures!
Then I tried to find all the times Jesus showed anger.
The only time the Bible says that Jesus used anger was in Mark chapter 3.
The Pharisees were watching Jesus to see if he would heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath day. Verse five says, "when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand . . ."
Jesus seemed to get angry most at hypocrisy.
Twice he seemed to be angry when he cleansed the temple. (John 2 and Matt. 21)
Jesus also seemed to be angry when he rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 23.
Thatís four times that I could find. You may find more. The thing that struck me about that is that it is only four times! After all, Jesus was God!
Maybe you think, "But isnít Jesus our example?" In most areas, yes.
But there were a couple of things that Jesus did that if you and I are wise we probably wonít try.
Jesus, in a weakened state, after 40 days of fasting, was led directly into the presence of Satan to be tempted. I donít suggest you try that. Jesus proved He was the Son of God. You and I will probably prove that we are not the Son of God. In fact, it was only two chapters after that when Jesus said you and I should pray, "Lead us not into temptation." The best way for you and me to deal with temptation is to stay away from it so we donít have to deal with it.
Another thing Jesus did that you and I probably shouldnít try to do is use anger.
Godís anger is spiritual and produces justice. Deut. 29:23 describes how God in anger overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
Manís anger is carnal and produces injustice.
In the book of Daniel is the story of Nebuchadnezzar. He was the wealthy, powerful king who built the beautiful city of Babylon and the hanging gardens of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar got angry at a few of the wise men because they couldnít remember his dream. He "was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon." (2:12)
In the book of Esther, Haman was so angry at Mordecai that he plotted to destroy the entire race of the Jews.
God can righteously get angry and then righteously take actions that man cannot righteously take because man isnít God.
Romans 12:19 clarifies this further and shows why man can not and must not use wrath. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Thereís a powerful and important thought there that you must not miss. The purpose of wrath is vengeance. Ezekiel 24:7 and 8 confirms this further when it says, "For her blood is . . . upon the top of a rock . . . That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance."
Note that vengeance is not given to you and me.
If a parent spanks his child while angry, he has not disciplined the child. He has carried out vengeance upon the child. He has violated Godís requirement in Genesis 18:19 and Luke 1:17 that a parent be "just." That act of vengeance is unjust and easily causes a child to become either disobedient or rebellious. I donít know about you fathers, but it grieves my heart to think of the number of times I violated Godís truth in this area.
According to Romans 13:4, God does delegate the responsibility of vengeance to rulers. "For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." The wrath mentioned there is Godís wrath, not manís. God doesnít delegate or give his wrath to anyone. Even earthly rulers are not given Godís wrath. If a judge gets angry in the courtroom, the whole case may be thrown out. Anger negates justiceís ability to deal impartially.
Jesus could cleanse the temple. But the people were amazed that he had the authority to do it. He was probably exercising both wrath and vengeance.
Jesus will also carry out vengeance in the future according to 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and 8.
Someone asked me, "But wonít a man need anger if he has to defend his family?" You especially wouldnít need anger then. And Iím not saying that a man wouldnít be greatly tempted to become angry. But what you would really need would be courage and discernment! Angry people act out of rage instead of out of reason! Angry people have unjustly lynched innocent people in their wrath.
Anger goes beyond Godís law and becomes it own law. Angry people donít settle for "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Angry people want both eyes for one eye and a handful of teeth for one tooth!
Let me take this even further. What Iím about to describe has and is happening. In fact, it is exacerbating and complicating the problem of anger in our homes. A preacher gets angry in the pulpit, or uses anger in his preaching, or has an angry spirit while he is preaching.
"How do I know?" Because Iíve been guilty. But Iím afraid Iím not alone. In fact, I have been in meetings where the "Amens" were the loudest when the preacher was the most angry. And Iím not against "Amens!"
Sadly, most preachers who have this problem are like James and John. They donít know it. Itís easy to get confused and think that the emotional high of anger is the same thing as the power of God upon your life.
Some people who hear an angry preacher preach know that heís angry. But many men in the congregation have the same problem and therefore donít know it.
For a strong Bible preacher to have an angry spirit is not only an accepted thing in our day. It is also, in some circles, a strongly promoted, encouraged, and expected thing.
Preachers have said things like: "If you donít get in the pulpit and have a royal fit once every few months then youíll have carnal, worldly church members and your church will never be all it ought to be."
So the use of the carnal, worldly weapon of anger is supposedly proper and powerful to fight carnality and worldliness.
Sometimes the angry spirit is heard in the things a preacher says, or the way he says them, or both!
Why do we use anger? Every preacher would have to answer that question for himself. But itís easy to use anger as a substitute for study.
If the point is not well supported with Scripture, Scriptural principle, Scriptural illustrations, strong reasoning, or other illustrations . . . . just use a little anger to drive the point home!
Then, if a fellow is really talented, he may use some humor to gloss over the hurt being caused by his anger. Like a father trying to get a child to laugh after he just said or did something cruel or hurtful.
Humor may wisely be used to make truth more acceptable. But humor should not be used to make anger more acceptable.
Incidentally, anyone who says anything in anger will probably say the wrong thing. BUT, if you do say the right thing it will probably be said the wrong way. Proverbs 14:17 says, "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly."
What are the results of this angry spirit in our pulpits? There are several of them:
(1) Continual strife among pastor and deacons, and pastor and people, and people and people. Remember that Proverbs 29:22 says, "An angry man stirreth up strife."
(2) Empty pews and people going to churches that donít teach and preach the Bible just to get away from the angry spirit in the Bible-believing church.
One preacher said to me, "I donít believe all the people I ran off for years and blamed it on them when it wasnít anything but my own angry spirit."
(3) A plague of anger is spread throughout homes, businesses, and society.
I was very careful how I chose those words. Anger is like a contagious plague! Since the anger is behind the pulpit, it must be right not only for there but for anywhere else. But thatís not the worst problem we have in this area. We are not simply defending and justifying a carnal work of the flesh. We are also promoting the spread of something that God himself says is contagious like a deadly disease.
Proverbs 22:24-25 says, "Make no friendship [the Hebrew word means to pasture or feed] with an angry man [the Hebrew word means "ruler" or "leader"]; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
[WHY?] Lest [means "beware] thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
When a preacher stands in the pulpit with an angry spirit, the fathers in the church "catch it" and donít know they have it. Then many of the youth rebel against their parents and we canít figure out how or why it has happened.
I know this isnít the only reason for problems in our churches and homes, but it is probably a bigger one than we realize.
(4) Vengeance is being handled by someone not Biblically qualified to handle it. An angry preacher may think he is giving reproof and correction. In reality, he is exercising vengeance upon Godís people.
(5) It causes us to lose the battle to spread Godís truth among the nations of the world. Our spirit of anger weakens or neutralizes our presentation of the truth.
The truth of the spirit is not the most powerful when it is presented with a work of the flesh. The truth of the spirit is the most powerful when it is presented with the fruit of the spirit.
Have you noticed that we really are losing the battle for the mind? It is happening in many areas, but I especially notice it in the area of homosexuality or sodomy. Should we continue to stand against it? Of course. But using a spirit of anger as we do so will not help us in our presentation of the truth in this area.
I think of a statement that I made in this area in several meetings. Wow, did people like this statement. I said, "If you want to see what God thinks about homosexuality, then look at Sodom and Gomorrah and see how God turned those Ďfruit loopsí into Ďcrispy crittersí!" The problem with that statement is that the very words carry with them a spirit of anger.
A pastor said to me, "But couldnít the intensity of our presentation of the truth cause people to think weíre angry when weíre really not?" My reply to him was this: "Our love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance should be so obvious that there would be no question about our being angry." The Holy Spirit knows better how to use His Sword than do we!
Let me make clear what Iím saying here. I am not against strong, clear, plain, powerful, bold preaching. Iím for that. I am for preaching that exposes sin and Satan.
What I am saying is this: It may be a fine line, but there must be a line drawn: between being emphatic or being enraged; between being fiery or being frightening; between being watchful or wrathful. There must be a line between correction and condemnation; between intensity and indignation; between reproving and raging.
Iím not suggesting passivity. No great leaders in the Bible were passive men. I am suggesting that our attacks and our defenses be filled with spiritual propriety and humility and a heart of concern. 1 Peter 3:15 says, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you, a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
Luke 4:22 tells about Jesusí message in the synagogue at Nazareth. What was it that stood out about Jesusí preaching? "And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth."
The other key question to be answered is "How about Ephesians 4:26-ĎBe ye angry and sin notí?"
Notice first the number of clear Scriptures that say to get rid of anger completely. One is only 5 verses away.
Notice secondly that the Greek verb tense for "be ye angry" is a present passive imperative. "Present" means it is currently taking place. "Passive" means not that you are acting, but that you are being acted upon. "Imperative" is a command. The meaning is this: "There are going to be times when you feel something or someone working on you to make you angry. Recognize that and donít let it happen. Be ye angered, but donít sin by getting angry."
One of the wives in our church was having problems with her husband.
I had a wise, older lady in our church counseling this younger wife.
A few days later, this younger wife brought me a book she had been reading for a couple of years. She said to me, "I donít think Iíll be needing this book anymore. It has definitely been encouraging me the wrong direction."
I could hardly believe my eyes. This was a 300 page book, not only justifying anger, but encouraging women to get angry. I looked til I found the page in the book where the author discussed the Biblical justification for anger. He said that the Greek word translated "angry" in Ephesians 4:26 refers to a milder form of anger that may not be sin and might actually be good. He encouraged the use of anger as a tool.
I also read a Greek scholar who pointed out that there are three Greek words for anger in the New Testament. This one, "orge," may, he said, be righteous anger. Most commentaries, all the way back to Matthew Henry, say about the same thing.
Well, Iím not a Greek scholar, but I do know that the way you understand the meaning of a word is by looking at all the places God used the word.
So I studied the 8 times the word occurs. Three were Godís anger (Matt. 18:34 and 22:7 and Luke 14:21). Godís anger there is certainly not mild. One was Satanís anger found in Revelation 12:17. It was not a righteous anger and certainly not a mild anger. Itís the passage where Satan as a dragon was angry at the Jews and set out to wage war on them because through them the Messiah was born. Four were manís anger and all were unrighteous. In fact, one of them was the elder brotherís anger at his father for welcoming home his brother (the prodigal son) in Luke 15:28. That is not mild anger.
Even the context of Ephesians 4:26 should tell us that this is not "mild anger." The very next verse says, "Neither give place to the devil." That which allows Satan to take ground in a personís life cannot be considered to be something "mild!"
Iíve read articles by both secular psychologists and Christian counselors who say that you must release anger. If you donít, they reason, tension will build up and create problems. So itís supposed to be better to have a controlled release than to hold it in.
Iíve heard of counselors who send patients into a room with a pillow. The angry person is supposed to beat the pillow and beat it and beat it until they get out all their frustrations and feel better. Itís really the same as knocking a hole in the wall or throwing things, itís just not as damaging.
Sometimes a person is told to take the picture of the person theyíre mad at and go into a room and fuss, and scream, and curse the person until they feel better.
There are two things wrong with this reasoning:
(1) It doesnít take into account that anger is not really something you can properly control. It usually gets out of control. Itís like a skunk spraying a little bit under your house. It tends not to be a "little bit!" Anger is like a flood that has the power to wash away homes and churches!
Once you wrongly give permission to have a "little bit" of anger it winds up being a lot more than a "little bit." Trying to have a little bit of anger is like trying to have a little bit of adultery or a little bit of idolatry or a little bit of witchcraft or a little bit of blasphemy or a little bit of filthy communication!
Iíve never yet met anyone who said they controlled their anger who did so.
(2)The second problem with the worldís reasoning about controlling anger is that it causes us to miss Godís way to control anger.
Godís way to control any wrong emotion is to put the mind under the command of Christ and His Word, then have the mind tell the will what to do so that the emotion of anger is unplugged before it gets turned on.
My wife and I were on a flight to Chicago that arrived an hour and a half late so that we missed our connecting flight to Texas. We wound up having to fly to Las Vegas and then on to El Paso, arriving 6 hours late at 4:00 in the morning.
The lady at the Chicago ticket counter thanked us for being kind, and commented how she hated having to deal with belligerent passengers. I said, "Well, I figure God is in control of the weather, so thereís really no reason to get upset."
Do you see what I did? I wanted to get upset just like anyone else. But my mind accepted Biblical truth and told my will to settle my emotions down.
Anger is an emotion. The more you practice or yield to any emotion the easier it is to do. One reason some people have trouble conquering anger is because theyíve been getting angry almost every day of their life. The more you say "No" to any emotion, the easier it is to say "No" the next time.
Even after all this truth, there may be someone still feeling that they need to defend anger. Did you know there are even verses warning you not to do that?! Proverbs 21:24 says, "Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath." Proverbs 30:33 says, "Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood, so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife."
Maybe youíre wondering like I was: Isnít there anyone in the Bible who had spiritual anger that was helpful instead of hurtful, and right instead of wrong?
I have a list of every man in the Bible that those seven words were used in relation to. Incidentally, they were ALL men - 52 of them plus 2 unnumbered groups. Not one lady. The main verse about an angry woman seems to be Proverbs 21:19: "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman."
Back to the men.
Peter got angry and chopped off a manís ear. He did that defending Jesus! But Jesus told him to put up his sword. The message there is that Jesus doesnít want us using anger to defend Him.
Paul got angry at the High Priest in Acts 23 and then humbly apologized. (When Jesus got angry, He didnít need to apologize.)
Thereís one other man in the Bible we might notice. Clearly one of the greatest men. MOSES. Six times the Bible tells us that Moses got angry. Four other times it appears that he was angry, for a total of ten times.
Exodus 2:12 was probably the root of Mosesí problems with anger for the rest of his life. He saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, and he killed the Egyptian and hid his body. Moses never did deal with his sin in that area. The unresolved guilt apparently ate at him for the rest of his life.
Hebrews 11:27 says that Moses "forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king . . . " Before the murder, Moses had no fear of Pharoah. After the murder, Moses was afraid and fled for his life.
In Exodus 5:22 Moses seemed to be angry at God Himself! Definitely sinful anger.
In Exodus 11:8 Moses was angry at Pharoah. It was not spiritual and his anger accomplished nothing.
In Exo. 16:20 the people kept manna for an extra day, "and Moses was wroth with them."
In Exo. 32:19 Mosesí anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. Wait a minute. God wrote those tables with his own hand. Was there really anything spiritual about breaking them?
Here is a powerful picture of how anger breaks Godís law. It also is a picture of how anger destroys the very truth you were supposed to be presenting when you got angry.
Itís also interesting that God required Moses to cut out replacement tables of stone and to walk up Mt. Sinai carrying them.
Think about what you have to do to rebuild what you destroyed in anger.
Lev. 10:16 tells how Moses got angry with Aaronís sons. But his anger was because of a misunderstanding. He answered a matter before he heard it all and it became folly and shame to him.
Numbers 11 I mentioned earlier in the message.
Numbers 16:15 was where Moses got angry at Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
The 7th time that Moses got angry after killing the Egyptian, it wound up costing Moses his life. He had already smitten the rock, which was clearly a type of Christ. In Numbers 20 he was told to speak to it. Instead, he smote it twice. God told him that he would die at age 120, though he wasnít really old, and he would not be able to enter the Promised land.
Did Moses ever deal with his anger? Apparently not. In Numbers 31:14 and Numbers 32:6 Moses got angry twice more.
"Ten Steps to Conquer the Spirit of Anger"
Several people have asked if there were some key steps they could follow to conquer a spirit of anger.
1 - Recognize the problem and its seriousness.
Itís time we recognized anger for the devastating curse it is. Denial destroys hope for help. I have dealt with people who honestly donít want to admit they have a problem in this area.
I talked to a father and mother with a rebellious 16 year old daughter. After a few minutes on the telephone I asked, "Sir, do you have a problem with anger?"
He quickly replied, "No, I donít." His wife meekly said, "Well, maybe just a little problem." He snapped back at her "No, I donít."
I said, "Sir, may I be very honest with you?" "Of course." "Sir, you have one of the biggest problems with anger of any man I have ever spoken to!"
"How can you say that when youíve only been talking to me for a few minutes?"
"Sir, you donít even know me. But youíve rebuked your wife three times in my presence in less then ten minutes. Sir, you have a huge problem with anger!"
That father had already sent his daughter away to a girlís home for over a year. She had come home changed. But in three months she had become a rebel again. He wanted to know if he should send her away a second time. I said, "Sir, the problem is not your daughterís, itís yourís. Donít create a sense of rejection in your daughter by sending her away again. It would not be "just" to send her away when this is your problem." I told another father with a similar problem who refused to take action that if someone needed to be sent away, it was him and not his daughter! That father then took action and won back his daughterís heart and stopped her rebellion.
Ask your wife if you have a problem with anger. If she answers, "Well, maybe just a little bit," you probably have a huge problem! Sheís probably too afraid of your anger to tell you.
Remember that there is no such thing as a "little" anger.
A number of years ago a man in our church came to me. He said, "Pastor, I love you. I love your preaching. But there is a harshness about your preaching."
I had no idea what he was talking about. I couldnít see it. We talked over and over again. He gave me examples from sermons I had just preached. The problem was not error. The problem was anger. Finally, the light began to dawn.
Have I arrived? Iím sure I havenít. But this I do know: Iím more determined than ever not to create strife in my church by having an angry spirit in my preaching. The number one prayer I prayed before I preached this sermon was that I might be able to preach it without a spirit of anger! A while back my heart smote me for several days because I felt like I made one statement in a sermon with a spirit of anger.
It also seems that God is able to use me a great deal more since I began to sincerely seek Godís help in this area.
2 - Desire victory enough to cry out to God.
The truth is, there are many who have the problem, know they have the problem, but donít really want victory. They enjoy the fear their anger creates in others. They also enjoy the carnal power that their anger gives them to control others.
For those who truly desire it, personal victory is found in the power of Jesus alone and not in any strength of the flesh.
3 - Repent of the sin. Say to God, "I want to turn from this sin."
4 - Confess the sins of forefathers and ask God in the Name and through the power of the blood of Jesus to break any curse coming down the generations. In Neh. 1:6 Nehemiah prayed, "both I and my fatherís house have sinned."
5 - Ask God to take back the ground Satan has taken because of anger.
Remember that Eph. 4:26 says: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the son go down upon your wrath." The very next verse says, "Neither give place to the devil."
Whenever some one or some thing causes you to become angry then Satan is able at that time to take ground in your life.
6 - See the connection between anger and lust in Matt. 5:21-32.
Remember that Jesus is dealing with the letter of the law and the spirit of the law in this passage. "He that is angry with his brother without a cause" is describing a spirit of anger.
When lust prevails, so does anger. Lust creates an insensitivity in the spirit that causes a person to be more likely to respond wrongly to God and to others.
Lust and anger are like twin sins. Wherever you see one, the other is probably also somewhere around.
7 - Watch for people and things that are going to come your way to make you angry. The meaning of Ephesians 4:26 is that you are definitely going to have things coming your way that could possibly create anger you. God is saying, "Be aware of this and donít sin and donít give ground to Satan. Use the impulse to get angry as a signal to yield to God and to answer softly. "A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger." Pro 15:1
Few things have as much power to make you angry as anger in someone else.
8 - Purpose to enter the presence of family members and business associates with praise. Psalm 100:4 gives the principle: "Enter into His presence with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise."
You should come into the presence of those you admire and love and respect with praise.
The first words to each family member each day should be words of praise. Those words then "set the stage" for the rest of the relationships that day.
Praise is a motivator. Praise is a magnet that draws hearts to you. Praise is also a defense for you against wrong words and attitudes.
9 - Ask God daily to fill you with His Spirit and to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Every morning I ask God to "Produce in me the fruit of the Holy Spirit." Then I pray to God that fruit: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance." As I pray, I picture that fruit in my life. I picture my countenance and actions portraying that fruit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the opposite of the works of the flesh, and thereís something powerful about just praying about it and meditating on it.
10 - Make yourself fully accountable.
A key principle for victory is found in Proverbs 19:19: "A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again." A person who has a great problem with wrath MUST suffer punishment. Others must not deliver him from the consequences of his punishment, and he must not deliver himself. In fact, the person really wanting victory in this area would be wise to tie in the principle found in 1 Corinthians 11:31 that says, "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." I have seen the powerful impact when someone humbles himself to determine his own punishment when and if he ever displays wrath to his family again. Perhaps youíre like me and hate to sleep outside! A night outside in January in Illinois after a display of wrath may be a powerful personal reminder to you that you really must "cool" your hot temper!
If you realize youíve had a really serious problem in this area, then you may want to ask your mate daily at first whether she sensed any spirit of anger in you that day. Offer no defense, but only gratefulness for correction.
Be humble to ask for and accept correction from your mate, your children, and perhaps others.
A Pastor or staff member may want to set up some type of accountability with some key person he trusts in his church.
One father who knew he had a problem in this area listened to this message several times. After a period of time, the father asked his son how he was doing. The son answered honestly: "Dad, I can still see the fire in your eyes!" The Dad cried out, "Please tell me when you see it, son. Itís a blind spot for me. But I want to know! I want to deal with it!"
Another father who heard this message said to me: "All my life I had a problem with anger. I finally dealt with it when I heard that message. Three weeks later my wife pointed out to me that my little boy no longer had a problem with stuttering!" I wonder what God will do in your home once you deal with the spirit of anger!
You remember my opening story? I was talking to that father in Knoxville, Tn. We had discussed the problem of anger. He had listened three times to a different message of mine on anger. He had already made himself accountable to his wife and daughter so that anytime they just looked at him and said to him that he was angry he would immediately apologize. I said to him, "Brother, there is still a spirit of anger in your life. I can hear it in your voice even while we are talking." He said, "I donít know what youíre talking about." I said, "You must not just repent of the outward manifestations of anger. You must repent of the spirit of anger and make yourself accountable so that any time your wife or daughter even hears a spirit of anger in your voice they can tell you about it. He said, "Iíll do it."
I went over and talked to his daughter for a while. I said, "Your Dad has had a terrible problem with a spirit of anger and you know it, donít you?" She said, "Oh, yes." I said, "I want you to know that I told your Dad what it is. And heís going to make himself accountable, not just for the outbursts of anger, but for any spirit of anger as well. I want to challenge you to give your Dad a chance. This has really been a terrible blind spot for him. He honestly needs your help. I hope you wonít make it difficult for him."
The reason I told her that is because many teens will actually take advantage of a father trying to change in this area and try to provoke him to anger just so they can feel justified to continue in their rebellion.
Hereís the end of the fatherís story in his words: "Exactly 14 days later our daughter turned around and has been growing ever since. It was like we got our daughter back from the dead. Itís been such a joy to hear her say, ĎDad, I love you.í She wrote her friendís father and asked his forgiveness for not telling him what was going on in his daughterís life. She pleaded with him to deal with his daughter like her Dad dealt with her.
"My daughterís friend got pregnant and the father, a Sunday School teacher, said she should get an abortion, which she did. The girlís mother met my wife in the grocery store one day and blamed the Christian School for the trouble. She said that they never should have kicked them out.
"News of our daughterís turn-around got around. I have been surprised at the number of parents that are having similar problems with their daughters. I have been asked to talk to a number of them. I have yet to find a father that is willing to pay the price that it takes to win his daughter back. In every case, I can sense a spirit of anger and resentment.
"My daughter is now very strong in her commitment to the Lord and is working with other young people who have problems.
"For our family, the spirit of anger was the key."
Jesus looked at James and John, who wanted to call down fire from heaven, and He said to them: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of."
Is it possible that someone hearing this is emitting or putting off a spirit of anger that you donít know about?
You donít bring X rated movies into your house and watch them as a family.
You donít bring an idol into your living room and bow down before it.
You donít have a witch come into your house and hold a seance.
And you donít get angry in your house.