6 Critical Truths To Understand About Anger



The Bible has a lot to say about anger.

I don?t mean righteous anger, the kind of anger we can experience toward injustice or evil but sinful anger. Many times we may feel we are ?righteous? in our anger, because someone wronged us. Anger often involves our sense of justice. ?But it?s very easy to slide into sinful anger, hatred and bitterness. Here are some Biblical truths and principles that God has used to help?me make progress in conquering my own sinful anger.

Anger is not caused by other people or our?circumstances. It comes out of our?own hearts.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. MT 15:19

No one else can make you angry. Circumstances don?t cause your anger. Anger is your own sin. David Powlison says our hearts are like sponges. If I squeeze a sponge and black ink comes out, it might seem that the squeezing caused black ink to come out. Yet I might squeeze another sponge and have clear water come out. So it was not the squeeze that caused the ink to come out, but ink came out because that was what was in the sponge. The squeeze merely revealed what was there in the first place. Other people and circumstances can ?squeeze? our hearts and?if anger comes out, it is because that?s what was in our heart.

Anger is caused by our own unfulfilled desires.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? ?You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. JA 4:1-2

James says our own ?passions? – cravings and desires – cause all our quarrels and fights. We desire and do not have so we murder, fight and quarrel. In other words, we want something and we don?t get it, so we get angry. Whenever you are angry ask yourself, ?What is it that I want right now that I?m not getting?? Once I told my kids to go to bed and heard them wrestling and throwing things upstairs. When I went up I said, ?You?re making me mad,? to which one replied, ?But you have said no one else can make you mad.? I said, ?You?re right. You are disobeying me, which tempts me (squeezes me), and?it is my anger, my sin.? When I went downstairs I asked myself, ?What do I want that I?m not getting?? My answer: I wanted to relax. I wanted kids who always perfectly and immediately obeyed. I wanted to watch TV not oversee bedtime.

Anger won?t make anyone do the right thing.?

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. JA 1:19-20

Many times we think anger will motivate others to do the ?right? thing. Parents think anger will make their kids do the right thing, or act ?righteously?. But anger won?t produce the righteousness of God. Anger might make kids outwardly obey, like little Pharisees, but it won?t change their hearts. Anger won?t produce inward righteousness in our spouse or coworkers. Anger does no good.

Anger toward another person is murder of the heart.

?You have heard that it was said to those of old, ?You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.? But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brotherc will be liable to judgment; whoever insultsd his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ?You fool!? will be liable to the helle of fire. MT 5:21-22

We tend to downplay the seriousness of anger. ?I was just venting? or ?letting off steam.? But Jesus said anger is murder of the heart and a violation of one of the 10 commandments. It can make us subject to the very hell of fire.

Anger makes things worse.?

A harsh word stirs up anger. PR 15.1

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife PR 15.18

Not only does anger fail to produce righteousness, it makes things worse. It stirs up anger in others. It stirs up strife. It has the opposite effect to what we are desiring.

Anger opens the door for Satan?

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. EPH 4:26-27

When we ?let the sun go down on our anger? or fail to deal with it in a timely fashion, either by asking forgiveness, forgiving others, or working things out with them, it opens the door for Satan to tempt us to bitterness, revenge, slander and a host of other sins. Cain?s anger at Abel led him to kill his brother. Anger is serious. We must deal with it quickly.

These truths have helped me numerous times when I’ve been tempted to anger. ?I’m not saying I’ve conquered it and I never sin in anger. ?But by God’s grace, understanding these things have helped me make progress. ?I hope you too will?find God’s Word and Spirit will help you make progress in overcoming anger.

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  • Sharon says:

    Mark, I very much enjoyed reading this article about anger…. It has given my much to ponder and apply to my life. Thank you for your diligence to God and His ministry.

  • Doris Luce says:

    Mark, thank you for this article; which I received via a Facebook share from Sharon Varner. Sinful anger is something I struggle with almost daily. Your article shows me that I MUST take ownership of this sin and allow God remould me.

  • Aphobos says:

    When I am angry with God it must not be righteous, so I suppose it must be sinful, or is there another category for anger with God as expressed in some Psalms, and in some of our thoughts and prayers?

  • Thanks for your encouragement Sharon!

  • Hi Doris, I’m grateful Sharon would send the post to you. Thanks for your humility to admit your struggle – I’m confident that Jesus will help you overcome anger as you seek him and seek to put it to death.

  • Hey Aphobos,

    God is so gracious he lets us express our questions, doubts, fears. I am not aware of any verses that say it is ok to be angry with God. I believe that the Psalmists were just wrestling with issues and wondering why God did certain things at times, but don’t remember any verses where they were angry. I think we could pray something like, “Lord, why has this happened? It feels like you’ve abandoned me. I know you haven’t but it feels like it. How could this happen? I don’t understand this. Yet I will still praise you.” God did question Jonah about his anger with God but didn’t say it was ok. Not sure I’d have any other verses to point to; I just know that God seems to be ok with us expressing our struggles and doubts but don’t believe he would encourage us to be angry with him.

  • Aphobos says:

    That seems to sum it up. I guess I can acknowledge that my anger toward God is not pleasing to Him, but at the same time I dont think He desires that I pretend I am not angry rather than expressing it to Him. “I am angry with you” is a confession, and that is always a good place to start.

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  • Casey says:

    How does one purge the black ink from the sponge? I grow weary of simply having the filth exposed. How can I truly change so that the squeezing is not so dangerous? This is a huge problem for me which feels so defeating

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