MESSAGE DELIVERED: AUGUST 27, 2017
As we continue looking at these so-called “7 Deadly Sins”, Anger is number 2, just after PRIDE, which is number 1. And anger is an especially DESTRUCTIVE sin…not just in terms of ETERNAL consequences, but also in regards to the IMMEDIATE effect on the person who gives IN to anger…and to the people AROUND that angry person…ESPECIALLY the one who may have been the CAUSE of the anger.
Pride comes first, on every list of deadly sins that you might find, and ANGER will always be the second, in terms of destructiveness. And LIKE pride, anger is a sin that affects us all. No one is immune to it, from the smallest child, to the oldest person on the face of the earth.
I found an anonymous quote that says, “Anger is the sin that stalks through the ranks of mankind, like a vicious animal, searching for someone to destroy”. WHO does that remind you of? Remember what Peter said, in 1st Peter 5:8…”Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy”.
If you have been a PARENT, then you know the UNCONTROLABLE anger of an INFANT; how they might SCREAM with anger, until they turn bright red. And often a parent is unable to determine WHAT is the CAUSE of that anger. But it is usually related to some basic need, like hunger or tiredness, and the parent can feel completely helpless for not being able to determine what the baby needs.
And then you most likely will have an angry PARENT, because they are unable to stop the baby’s crying. And then that baby will turn into a CHILD, and it doesn’t get any better. Outbursts of anger by, say, a TWO year old, who wants something you don’t want him to have, for whatever reason, and that child might erupt in kicking and screaming, falling to the floor and wailing. And only giving-in will stop it. And you can’t do that.
And then comes the TEEN years, and those angry OUTBURSTS of childhood often become turned INWARD, and degenerate into SULKING and POUTING, which are every bit as damaging to a family’s tranquility as the violent outbursts were earlier.
Anger can cause a wife to deliberately IGNORE her husband, give him that good old “silent treatment”…or they may go the OTHER way, and NAG at him constantly.
And THAT can cause the HUSBAND to STORM OFF, to SLAM DOORS, or even, unfortunately, to punch HOLES in the wall with his fist. (and please don’t ask me how I know that)
And older, supposedly more MATURE adults, will often suffer from things like HYPERTENSION, or STRESS, or ULCERS…all of which can be AGGRAVATED by outbursts of anger, whether that adult is the SOURCE of the anger, or the FOCUS of it.
And now I have to use MYSELF as an example, since that is the one I know best. And I want to tell you that, before I came to Jesus, I was a 140 pound FUSE, and it was ALWAYS lit! I can try to explain the anger I felt, and maybe justify myself…but the best I can do is RATIONALIZE it.
When I was a kid, I was a lot smaller than other kids my age. And I mean a LOT smaller. I’ve got a photo somewhere, taken of myself and some other boys, when a Cub Scout troop was formed in our neighborhood, when we were about 9 or 10 years old, and looking at that picture you’d swear that I was 3 or 4 years YOUNGER than the rest, because I barely came up to their shoulders.
Being that small presents a lot of problems, and pretty SERIOUS problems. First of all, my father was a ‘macho’ guy from the north woods of Michigan, lumberjack country…and he was extremely ashamed of me. He actually was ashamed to have to ADMIT that he had fathered such a scrawny specimen. So as a consequence the only emotion I ever felt from him, was rejection. And of course since my father rejected me, so did my mother. I was treated exactly like the RUNT of the LITTER.
And in regards to the other kids in the neighborhood, or at school, being different, in ANY way, made YOU a TARGET. And being as small as I was, it made me an easy target for BULLIES. So if I couldn’t outrun ’em, I was constantly being beaten up by bigger kids.
That combination of REJECTION and VICTIMIZATION caused me to grow up with a tremendous amount of barely suppressed RAGE! And that often manifested itself as outbursts of ANGER. You can even ask my wife…she’ll tell you that I was very EVEN-TEMPERED, as I was ALWAYS MAD!
And it didn’t take much to set me off. If the NEWSPAPER was 5 minutes late in the morning, I’d stew about it all day. If someone were to SAY something that “I” thought was offensive, I’d go off on them like a Roman Candle. And if I got mad at my WIFE, because she maybe said ‘Good Morning’ too loudly, or something equally terrible…then I’d REALLY get mad. See, it’s almost always the ones you love the most that can cause the biggest reactions in you.
And since I knew better than to hit a woman…but I got so mad that I HAD to hit SOMETHING!…I’d punch the WALL! Our house had as many PATCHES in the walls as it had ELECTIC outlets. And there were a LOT of outlets. But at the time, I never even thought about, or ever wondered, WHY I got so mad all the time. It was just a way of LIFE! My father always had a vicious temper TOO, so I just figured that’s the way life IS!
And then, in 1976, the year of our nation’s BICENTENNIAL, on the 15th day of August…and late in the evening, I met JESUS! I REALLY met Him, as my Lord and Savior…as my dearest FRIEND!
And all at once, my ANGER wasn’t so ACCEPTABLE anymore. Maybe you’re wondering how I can be so EXACT in when I was Saved, but believe me, when something THAT INCREDIBLE happens to you, you’ll never forget when it happened.
I met Jesus that evening, and He changed me completely, from what I WAS, and into what HE wanted me to be, or, at least He BEGAN that PROCESS of making me into what he wanted. And I’d LIKE to tell you that I had IMMEDIATELY overcome all my anger…I’d LIKE to tell you that, but I’ve never lied to you before, so I won’t start now. I then became more AWARE of my tendency to anger, and began trying to CONTROL it. Have I been 100% successful at that? Not by a long shot!
But I AM a lot BETTER at it than I used to be. It’s been YEARS since I’ve punched a HOLE in the wall. In fact, if I TRIED that now, I’d probably just break my HAND!
See, I used to think that my anger was just the normal way people responded to STIMULUS! Now I know that it is really just a personal WEAKNESS! Proverbs 16:32 says…”He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that controls his own spirit is better than he that conquers a city”.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone, like me, FAILED to control their anger impulses? There wouldn’t be anybody LEFT! We’d kill each other off in no time!
Fortunately, MOST people ARE capable of controlling those impulses…in most circumstances. Everyone will, at some time, encounter a situation that just completely OVERCOMES our patience. And during those occasions, you will become a completely DIFFERENT person…almost unrecognizable from our normal selves.
And when that happens, or AFTER that happens, we will usually try to make EXCUSES for our actions…’we were just letting off a little steam’…’we just lost control there for a bit’.
But to those who are around you during those times, it ISN’T such a simple matter. We undergo a complete PERSONALITY change…we become IRRATIONAL, REPULSIVE…’ANIMALISTIC’…rather than human.
But this Bible tells us that such actions are the exact OPPOSITE of GODLINESS. We demonstrate a WEAKNESS of character. It demonstrates a lack of DISCIPLINE.
And that was MY problem. During my UNSAVED existence, I FAILED to DISCIPLINE my emotions. I never realized that I HAD to!
That is, until He the Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart. It was just that first, SMALL piece of my heart that I originally gave Him, and He began to make ME know that there were some changes I needed to make, IF I was going to call myself a BELIEVER! And the FRUITS of the Spirit began to manifest themselves in my life.
Overnight, my 3-pack a day addiction to cigarettes disappeared. Most of my former VOCABULARLY was unusable now. And as I continued to give Him more and more room in my heart…more access to my THOUGHT-LIFE, and my EMOTIONS, He really began to help me to grow.
And I began to experience something I’d never felt before…LOVE, and JOY, and a wonderful inner PEACE I’d never experienced. The things we’re promised in the 5th chapter of Galatians…the FRIUTS of the SPIRIT. And included on that list is PATIENCE, there called ‘LONGSUFFERING’, which I’d never HAD any of…and ‘SELF-CONTROL’, which I never realized I NEEDED, until I FOUND, it!
Anger that is NOT controlled, shows a lack of SELF-control, lack of self-DESCIPLINE. It will often MOTIVATE us to take an ACTION, which we will usually end up regretting, later. Uncontrolled anger is SO destructive, it has even been known to destroy life-long friendships, in a matter of MOMENTS!
But before you go getting the wrong idea, let me point out that the Scripture ALSO tells us that not ALL anger is actually evil. Proverbs 16:32 reads “He that is SLOW to anger…” NOT “He who never GETS angry…”.
We read in the Scriptures, on more than one occasion, where God Himself was moved to such GREAT anger that, once, he determined to WIPE them ALL out, and start over with just Moses. But God’s anger, which is always RIGHTEOUS anger, only came about after He had been REPEATEDLY frustrated by His own rebellious people! We are told that the Lord is “SLOW to anger”, not that He is IMMUNE to it.
And then Jesus, when He observed the SORRY condition of the TEMPLE, took a bunch of CORDS, and made a WHIP of them, and He DROVE all the BUYERS and SELLERS, all the MERCHANTS, OUT of there.
Now, it’s true that He KNEW about that condition, even before He was BORN among us, and it took Him a LONG time before He confronted it. He was “slow to anger”, but when that anger was unleashed, it was RIGHTEOUS anger. And He YELLED at those who had desecrated what was meant to be a HOLY place, saying “My House is to be a House of PRAYER, but YOU have made it a den of THIEVES”!
So not ALL anger is evil, but you better be MIGHTY careful, before you go calling some personal WEAKNESS on your part, by the EXCUSATORY title of “righteous” anger.
I don’t want to hear anybody try to say “It’s not my fault, she MADE me angry, when she BURNED my toast, so I was JUSTIFIED”! NO…you’re NOT! Your anger is NOT righteous, unless it’s aimed at some attack ON righteousness, and NOT just some perceived slight to yourself.
And anyway, God’s TRULY righteous anger, always left the possibility of the SOURCE of His anger being FORGIVEN. Does YOURS?
What WE need to do, is avoid outbursts of anger, and leave the RIGHTEOUS anger to GOD, where it belongs! Because for us, uncontrolled anger, even if we think it IS justified, usually leads to personal harm.
Psalm 37:8 says “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil”. And it is “doing evil” that is the most usual result of allowing our anger to take over.
Anger is such a STRONG emotion, that when it finally subsides, it leaves a person feeling emotionally DRAINED. Some people are better than others at getting over a fit of anger. Some people can get mad, and then get over it. Others. like ME, when I got mad, I’d NURSE it, sometimes for DAYS! I’d replay whatever it was that had made me mad in the first place, and if it was some insult or slight…either real or imagined…and I’d plot how I was going to get my revenge. Thank God I’m not that guy anymore.
Allowing yourself to become so unreasonably angry…and that’s what it is, something that YOU allow…by not exercising self-control…when YOU allow yourself to become SO angry, there are some pretty drastic physical side effects that might occur, such as headaches, indigestion, high blood pressure, even loss of sleep.
And those physical symptoms may disappear over time, only to immediately RE-appear should you run into the one that was the FOCUS of that anger. And when things like that happen, anger can turn into HATRED…which can lead to more serious consequences.
Anger that turns to hatred can lead to PREMEDITATED violence, loss of property, physical injury and almost certainly self-loathing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone come to me, after they allowed HATRED to boil over into a PHYSICAL confrontation, and say “I just HATE myself when I do that! How can I EVER make it right”?
Unfortunately, a spoken word can’t be called back. A stone can’t be UN-thrown. A trigger can’t be UN-pulled! Uncontrolled anger can turn to hatred, and that can turn to rage, and that can lead to life-altering circumstances…and to consequences that must then be borne.
That’s what happened the other day in Charlottesville. Two groups whose PRIDE would not allow the OTHER side to EXIST. And ANGER turned to HATRED, and HATRED turned to RAGE, and RAGE led to one lady DEAD, dozens injured and thousands of dollars in property damage. And what was accomplished?
Psalm 37:8 says “Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil”. That speaks of not allowing your anger to FERMENT…to not allow yourself to begin thinking of how you’re going to GET BACK AT whoever it is you’re mad at, so you don’t begin plotting REVENGE.
When you plot to do evil against another, it makes you more like SATAN than JESUS, Who we are CALLED to imitate. An inescapable conclusion HAS to be made…that uncontrolled anger leads to EVIL activity!
In Matthew 5:22, Jesus said “Whoever is angry with his brother WITHOUT CAUSE is in danger of judgement. And whoever says to his brother ‘raca’, shall be in danger of the council, but whoever says ‘you fool’ will be in danger of hell-fire”.
Jesus was showing us that ESCALATION of anger, from just EMOTION, to unwarranted action.
“Whoever is angry without cause” means being angry without a genuine reason for it. The only way we are allowed to judge others is by observing their actions, and reaching logical conclusions. If you become angry when you really don’t have a reason to, then people will be justified in calling you a HOT-HEAD…a BRAWLER…and an EVIL person.
And if you allow that anger to ESCALATE into VERBAL abuse (“raca” means one that is empty-headed, an ‘idiot’), then the one so insulted can take you to court and sue you for SLANDER…for DEFAMATION of CHARACTER.
And if you allow it to FURTHER escalate, and call your brother a ‘fool’, you have then made a JUDGEMENT against him, and such judgements are reserved only for God! So you have placed yourself into the position that belongs ONLY to Jehovah God…and have now placed YOURSELF in danger of being judged, by the One Who IS allowed to do that. The One Who has both the RIGHT and the ABILITY, to destroy both body AND soul, in the Lake of Fire.
So for you, or ME, to be ANGRY with another, with NO real reason for it, has the potential to lead ALL the way HERE, to where “The fires burn forever, and the flesh is not consumed”…to where “Their WORM never dies” is the way Isaiah put it.
PRIDE and ANGER are the 1st and 2nd of the 7 deadly sins. And anger is as dangerous as MURDER, because left unchecked, that is where it can lead…to physical harm to others, and to psychological harm to yourself.
People cannot change their nature, by themselves. That’s why we’re told that “The leopard cannot change its spots”. That’s Jeremiah 12:23. We need HELP! And Jesus is always available to SUPPLY that help!
Left to myself, if I had NOT met the Lord 41 years ago, my anger may have continued to grow…until I shudder to think of where I might be now.
But Jesus WAS able to CHANGE the DEMONIAC of GADARENE…from a VISCIOUS and HATE-FILLED MONSTER…into a CALM and RATIONAL human being. And He can do the same thing for you. You may not be as bad as the demonic man was, but IF you harbor in your heart UNRESOLVED ANGER, then you have the POTENTIAL to become that bad!
So this morning I invite you…I URGE you…to BRING that anger to the Lord! CONFESS that you can’t DEAL with it on your own. GIVE it to HIM! He will take CARE of it…REMOVE it from you…maybe not ALL at ONCE…but He WILL deal WITH it, so YOU won’t HAVE to. I am standing here before you today as living PROOF that He CAN DO that!
But before we do that I have to ask if there is one here who has never given their heart TO the Lord in the FIRST place? Have you allowed Him to Save you? Or are you finally ready to do that now? Put your OLD self AWAY, and be REBORN, brand new today! Please, if you never have, do it now!
But I want to speak to the one who has been sitting there thinking “He’s talking about ME”! Saved or lost, if YOU have never given your ANGER to the Lord…maybe thought YOU can deal with it…it’s not so bad…YES, it IS that bad! And it has THAT much POTENTIAL to get AWAY from you, and cause YOU and someone ELSE, to be harmed.
There’s no SHAME in admitting that. We’re all frail flesh. And HE is unlimited LOVE, that WILL change you, if you’ll allow it! And you’ll NEVER be sorry you did that, and those close to you will be grateful, too!
So let’s have a real “come to Jesus” moment…and give Him your HEART, or give Him your LIFE, and let HIM be first there. Come right now. Open your HEART right now, and just let the MAJESTY of God, the UNDILUTED LOVE of God, wash over your soul…and leave here today BETTER than when you arrived!