“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” —Mark Twain
True. Anger is never good for us. Yet some may object and say, “Righteous anger is good. Jesus was angry in Mark 3:5. So if Jesus gets angry, so can we. Paul said to be angry and not sin.”
Did Paul really say that? Jesus was said to be angry, I don’t deny this. He was angry about something very specific – Mark 3:5 see context. God expresses anger at times too at very specific things. But I am not God or Jesus. They can be angry and not sin, but I don’t think we can because Paul tells us to put away ALL anger.
Later on in that same passage Paul says, “Put away ALL anger.” So how could he say “Be angry and not sin,” and then tell us to put all anger away?
It has been suggested by C.H. Welch, A.E. Knoch, and a few others, that Ephesians 4:26 can be translated thus:
“Can you be angry and not sin?”
I agree with that. I’ve never gotten angry and then thanked God for my anger. Anger kills. Anger divides. Cain killed Abel because he was angry. Anger has destroyed millions since. It is no coincidence that Paul in the next verse says, “Neither give place to the devil.” With regards to us, the adversary knows all he has to do is get us angry in order to divide and conquer us.
So “can you be angry and not sin?” I don’t think so. Especially when just a few verses later Paul says, “Let all…anger…be put away from you.”
“Can you be angry and not sin?…Let all.. anger…be put away from you… put off all…anger…” Ephesians 4:26, 31, Colossians 3:8
What’s the alternative to anger? “But become ye kind to one another, tender-hearted, dealing graciously with one another, even as God in Christ deals graciously with you.”
Here are a few things others have said on this same topic:
—Otis Sellers on Anger
Even the world recognizes the futility of anger and it is a saying that you can judge the size of a man by the size of what will make him angry. Anger is…poisonous and harmful to the body…So it is foolish to indulge in fits of anger. Also anger is the outcome of thinking too much of self. The man who has a high opinion of self, who has a lot of pride, is likely to get angry easily.
Reason and anger seldom live together. Cain was angry with his brother. Murder was the result. He can never be excused upon the grounds that it was righteous anger.
Can anybody else but’ God be righteous and angry at the same time? Can we be angry with none of self in the situation? Righteous anger is but an excuse for the flesh. Nearly always anger brings a feeling of frustration, for seldom can anger be freely vented. And if it is, there is remorse which is just as bad for one as frustration. So we do well to ask if one can be angry and not sin. Any way you look at it, it is pretty hard to justify anger under any situation.
You may think you have to stand up for your rights. But as a Christian under grace, what rights do you have that must be defended in the flesh? The warfare we have is not with flesh and blood in this world, but with spiritual powers of wickedness in the heavenlies. Carnal attitudes and carnal weapons have no place in our warfare.
Let us take time to stop and think it thru. What have we to gain by being angry? Will it help our testimony? Will it honor the Father and the Son?
—Stuart Allen on Anger
The Apostle now passes from deceit to anger, and we ask the question; can a believer indulge in righteous anger? That there is such a thing, the Scriptures testify, for the wrath of God is a solemn fact that the book of Revelation stresses (6:16,17; 11:18; 14:8,10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1,19; 18:3; 19:15). God is righteous and there is no question but that His anger is just. But can we who are sinners indulge in it without sinning ourselves? In view of verse thirty-one, “let ALL bitterness, and wrath, and anger … be put away from you”, it is surely better to avoid anger under any condition, and read verse twenty-six as a question “Are ye angry and do ye not sin?” In any case, anger should never be prolonged, for this is dangerous; “let not the sun go down upon your wrath”. Paul insists on this, and many quarrels and differences between believers could have been avoided had this wise injunction been carried into effect.
Those who nurse their grievances do not realize that they are “giving place to the devil” (verse 27).They are giving him room to operate in their lives, which he will not be slow to use with deadly effect.