Anger is an emotion with which God created us. However, there is anger, and then there is anger! Have you ever lost your temper? Have you ever held onto anger for longer than a day? If we were honest, the answer for most of us is “yes”.
But is this God’s way? Let’s look at Ephesians 4:25-32 and examine this important subject, and let’s learn how we can better partner with the Holy Spirit for God’s purposes.
“After you have gotten rid of lying…tell the truth…” (Ephesians 4:25 CEB)
Paul is quoting from Zechariah 8:16 where the prophet states that God is going to renew His people and restore their fortunes. Speaking the truth to each other is part of how this is realized. Deception is very deceiving; it affects us individually and corporately.
To walk in truth means to deny our carnal nature. We must refuse to give into the deception of our old nature that we have “a right to do what pleases us.” (See the article from last week, “Living as a New Creation.”) Truth is a person, Jesus Christ. We are to love Him and obey Him, laying aside all falsehood.
In verse 29, we are instructed not to use words that are harmful toward others, but rather we are instructed to use words that edify and build up.
Imagine how different life would be if all our words were used to build up instead of tear down, to impart faith and hope instead of doubt, and to stir up love and peace instead of fear and division.
Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (NKJV). Words are powerful, in fact, they could be argued as the most powerful force on earth. Destinies of nations, wars, and other issues hang in the balance of words. The same is true in the Spirit, too!
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (Jam. 3:2 NLT)
“Be angry without sinning.” (Ephesians 4:26 CEB)
Anger is a human emotion. Verse 26—which is from Psalm 4:4—doesn’t say that we are not to be angry; rather, it says that we are not to allow our anger to lead us into sin. You must learn how to tame it… how to allow the Spirit to transform your mind so that you are not triggered into a rage. We need to be dead to the old nature (again, as I shared last week)!
There are behaviors that make the Lord angry. Some of them are injustice, unrighteousness, perversion, and taking advantage of the weak.
There is righteous anger toward evil. We see this with Jesus when He drove the greedy money changers out of the temple; “My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:13 NKJV) However, there is a fine line between operating in God’s righteous indignation toward evil and being critical and judgmental toward others.
There is a righteous anger, but it is not selfish. It does not escalate because we are offended or rejected; rather, it is a response to injustice, people’s hurt, and the evil that afflicts people.
For example, I have a righteous indignation toward the drug dealers pushing fentanyl and other drugs that are destroying lives. However, I don’t “hate” the dealers or harbor anger toward them. Rather, I focus my righteous anger toward the evil operating in the unseen realm into prayer and efforts to reach these people with the gospel.
Paul says not to let “the sun set on your anger.” Be quick to forgive and quick to attempt to resolve issues in relationships before you go to sleep at night.
Our processed food has expiration dates on the labels. Have you ever reached for something out of your refrigerator only to discover that it is expired? Or worse, that it’s become a science experiment?!
Anger has an expiration associated with it, too; it is today! Don’t keep it past its expiration date!
Paul continues this theme in verse 31 “Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil” (CEB).
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Heb. 12:14-15 NIV)
Don’t fall short of the grace of God by allowing unresolved anger or unforgiveness to turn into a bitter root. People and situations occur in life that are painful. We can forgive and release the offender or hold onto the offense and hurt. Left unresolved, it will become a deep root of bitterness in our life. It will cause more pain, both for you and for others. Bitterness defiles and affects us and others. Bitterness is a terrible pill to swallow.
How can we say that we love God and others if we harbor hate toward them, which can lead to bitterness? Look what John says,
“…He who says he is in the light but hates his brother, is in darkness…” (John 2:9-11 NKJV)
“Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil” (Ephesians 4:27 CEB). [NKJVsays “give place…”]
‘Opportunity’ or ‘place’ is from the Greek “topos” implying that anger, or any other sinful behavior, can provide the devil a foothold or opportunity into our lives. Listen, life can be challenging enough; don’t open the door to the enemy!
Paul encourages us to “Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other in the same way God forgave you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV).
We should be the kindest, most compassionate, and most forgiving people on earth! In my book, Fulfill Your Dreams, I share a story about forgiveness.
On June 17, 2015, a senseless mass shooting occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. During a prayer meeting, a young Caucasian man named Dylann Roof entered the church and took the lives of nine innocent African Americans, including the senior pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney. Police arrested Roof the following day in North Carolina, and he later confessed to the murders, saying he had intended to start a race riot. The lone survivor explained how the prayer group had openly welcomed the young man into their prayer meeting that night. Genuine love has no limitations or prejudice.
It was another mass shooting. Our nation was shocked, confused, and angered. Yet, during this tragedy, the victims’ church and family members expressed forgiveness on a scale that few of us have known, or perhaps even thought possible.
At Roof’s arraignment, children who had lost their mother said to him, “You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you; may God have mercy on your soul. I forgive you.” Only a heart transformed by God’s love could forgive like this—the depth of God’s mercy and grace is beyond words. We have no room for hate; we must live in forgiveness.
Dr. Martin Luther King, “If we are devoid of forgiveness, we are devoid of love…”
Paul admonishes them to not “grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom they were sealed…” (Ephesians 4:30 NKJV)
The word ‘grieve’ in Greek means to cause injury or distress. The opposite of grieving the Holy Spirit is to yield to Him and partner with Him.
When we give place to the devil, we give place to his kingdom and we grieve (or make unhappy) the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit is a person of the trinity—not an entity—but a person, a friend, a helper. The Father and Jesus abide with us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said the Father would “… give you another helper …” (John 14:16 NKJV), or another comforter or counselor.
Paul tells us what grieves the Holy Spirit, and it’s not interrupting Him in a worship service! Rather, it is bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, or malice. To the degree that these remain in our lives, we distress and grieve the Holy Spirit. We rob ourselves of precious intimacy with Him and communion. Further, the fullness of His power is restricted. God gives grace to the humble, not the prideful.
A component of revival is allowing the Holy Spirit to remove these areas in our hearts. They divide us, and they grieve and quench the Holy Spirit!
Learning to live dependent upon the Spirit is the essence of Christianity.
Learning to recognize His voice, His leading, His presence, His fruit, and His gifts is important to partnering with Him.
Paul writes, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom 8:14 NKJV). ‘Led’ is from the Greek agō which means to guide, function, or spend time with. In this verse, it means ‘ongoing interaction with the Holy Spirit’.
Our desire should be to seek those things that are above—and not of—the earth. We are to be in the world, but not of it. We are citizens of a Heavenly Kingdom; our desire and pursuit should be toward Heaven.
As we learn to see ourselves in the Spirit, as a new creation, we begin to live out of our union with Christ. The Holy Spirit wants to envelop you in His presence. He really cares for you and wants to be your best friend!
Take a moment to repent of any wrong attitude in your heart and to invite the Holy Spirit to fill you.
Father, I ask that you forgive me for my anger, rage, bitterness, and unwholesome words. I repent, Lord, and seek to live my life in the Spirit… not yielding to my old nature. Forgive me, Lord, for holding onto resentment, unforgiveness, and bitterness. I repent, Lord, and ask that You empower me to live yielded to Your Spirit.
Holy Spirit, I want to thank You for being my friend, helper, and partner and for taking responsibility for me. I need Your friendship and partnership. Forgive me when I have grieved You. Forgive me for the times that I haven’t fellowshipped with You. I promise, from this day forward, to commune with You and to consult You often! I invite You to come now and fill me afresh; let me know the joy of Your fellowship! In Jesus’ name! Amen.
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Partnering with the Holy Spirit”: