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THE RESUTS OF A TRANSFORMED LIFE
II. V. 26 IN THE ARENA OF OUR WRATH
Intro: When the Lord saved us, He changed us. We were made "new creatures," 2 Cor. 5:17, at the moment of conversion. At that moment everything changed! A life that had never existed began at that very moment. That is what it means to be "born again," John 3:3, 7. You were "born again" as a new creation of God at the moment of conversion.
This new creature is energized by the life of Christ Himself, Eph. 2:5. In contrast to the old man of sin, who is alive to the world and dead to God, Eph. 2:1-3, the new man is alive to God and all that He is. The challenges of the new life are what Paul is placing before us in these verses.
Since we have been transformed by His power, we are challenged to live like the new creatures we are. In the passage we are studying, Paul tells us something about what the new life looks like.
In these verses, he speaks about The Results Of A Transformed Life.
We have already considered the emphasis of verses 25 and 29. In those verses we saw The Results Of The Transformed Life In The Arena Of Our Words. Because we are saved, and changed by the power of God, our salvation and His work in us should reveal itself in how we use the power of speech. Today, we will look at verse 26 and consider The results of Gods transforming work in The Arena Of Our Wrath, that is, our tempers. Ill. This verse is a direct quotation from Psa. 4:4.
I. In The Arena Of Our Words
II. In The Arena Of Our Wrath
1. THERE IS A COMMAND
The Bible says, "Be ye angry." This phrase is in the imperative mood. That makes it a command. It is a positive command for us to express anger. The word "angry" refers to "deep-seated determination and settled conviction." It comes from a word that means "to be red-faced." It gives the impression of a person with clenched fists, a red face and a building anger toward a situation. The word can speak to an emotion that is good or bad depending on ones motives.
Not all anger is wrong! If we are commanded to be angry, it must mean there are somethings that should inspire our wrath.
The Lord Jesus expressed anger on several occasions.
He was angry at the Pharisees who resented His healing of the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath day, Mark 3:5.
He was angry with those who had turned the House of God into a place of merchandise, Matt. 21:12; John 2:15.
By the way, you would have a hard time reconciling those acts with a meek and mild Jesus.
Jesus was angered by anything that misrepresented or maligned the Heavenly Father or the true worship of God, Psa. 69:6.
Jesus was angered by those who used religion as a club to oppress the people of God.
Jesus was angered by hypocrisy and false religion.
There are things that should make us angry.
We should be angered by the murder of innocent children through the horror of abortion.
We should be angry that the family is being undermined and destroyed in our society.
We should be angered when a minority who engages in a lifestyle God calls an abomination is doing everything in their power to force their sin down the throats of decent people.
We should be angry when the weak, the poor and the less fortunate are mistreated.
We should be angered by injustice anywhere we meet it.
We should be angered by assaults on Gods Word and the doctrines of the faith.
Anger can either be kindled by Hell or by the fire from the altar of God. Holy anger is a fearsome thing. Anyone who cannot be angry at the seduction of an innocent child, some great display of depravity, or some terrible injustice, is either a spineless coward or has no moral convictions at all.
Dr. David Seamands said the following about anger: "Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good. If you cannot hate wrong, it's very questionable whether you really love righteousness."
The right kind of anger is wholesome, healthy and godly. There are some things that should make our blood boil!
Theologian F. W Robertson once wrote in a letter that he when met a certain man who was trying to lure a young girl into prostitution, he became so angry that he bit his lip until it bled.
1. There Is A Command
2. THERE IS A CAUTION
There is a problem with this matter of our being angry. We are rarely angry at the right people, about the right things, at the right moment, in the right ways, for the right reasons for the right amount of time.
That is why Paul writes, "Be angry and sin not." We have a hard time controlling most aspects of our anger. Most of the time, our anger is selfish in nature. We are angry because we are hurt, offended or feel slighted. Usually, our anger centers on us and on how we feel. Sinful anger is always self-serving and self-defensive. It is always anger at what is done to self. It is this kind of anger that leads to a hateful spirit and eventually to the judgment of God, Matt. 5:21-22.
The difference between anger that is good and anger that is sin is the focus of that anger. A good rule of thumb is this: If you are angry about something that affects you, how you feel or what you think, it is sinful anger. If you are angry about the harm done to God or others, it can be righteous anger. So, the litmus test for anger is this: Am I angry because this is happening to me, or does my anger exist because a terrible wrong is being done to someone else.
Consider this quote by Frederick Buechner, "Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."
Anger becomes sin:
When it is centered in self.
When it allowed to grow into resentment and and angry outbursts, v. 31; Gal. 5:19-21.
When it plots the downfall of another person. (Ill. Gossip, slander, plotting, campaigning, etc.)
When it grows vengeful, vindictive and mean, Rom. 12:19.
When it consumes our lives and all we can think about is the person we think wronged us.
When it stifles our worship, hinders our faithfulness to God, fills us with bitterness, and undermines our joy.
Ill. Many years ago during a Knicks-Bullets playoff game, one of the Bullets came up from behind the great Walt Frazier and punched him in the face. Strangely, the referee called a foul on Frazier. Frazier didn't complain. His expression never changed. He simply called for the ball and put in seven straight shots to win the game, an amazing display of productive anger. That is an example of anger that did not sin.
Ill. Here is another example: Bruce Goodrich was being initiated into the Cadet Corps at Texas A & M University. One night, Bruce was forced to run until he dropped -- but he never got up. Bruce Goodrich died before he even entered college.
A short time after the tragedy, Bruce's father wrote this letter to the administration, faculty, student body, and the corps of cadets: "I would like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my family for the great outpouring of concern and sympathy from Texas A & M University and the college community over the loss of our son Bruce. We were deeply touched by the tribute paid to him in the battalion. We were particularly pleased to note that his Christian witness did not go unnoticed during his brief time on campus."
Mr. Goodrich went on: "I hope it will be some comfort to know that we harbor no ill will in the matter. We know our God makes no mistakes. Bruce had an appointment with his Lord and is now secure in his celestial home. When the question is asked, Why did this happen? perhaps one answer will be, So that many will consider where they will spend eternity.
1. There Is A Command - Be angry
2. There Is A Caution - Sin not
3. THERE IS A CONDITION
The last phrase in that verse is "let not the sun go down on your wrath." The command there is very clear: get a handle on your anger quick.
Anger that is allowed to simmer turns into resentment. Resentment soon turns into bitterness. Bitterness turns into a root of self-righteousness that chokes the life, peace and joy out of you and everyone around you. It should also be noted that anger, resentment and bitterness are contagious. They attack other lives and drag other victims into the snare of death and defeat.
It is interesting to me that verse 27, which says, "Neither give place to the devil" is next in the Scripture. When we take our anger to bed with us and allow it to grow and simmer in our hearts, we give the devil a "beachhead" in our lives. The word "place" refers to "a piece of ground." Unreconciled anger in our hearts gives Satan just the opening he needs to attack us, and then to attack others through us. When He is allowed a place in our lives, he will cause us to seek revenge in violation of the clear teaching of the Word of God, Rom. 12:17-21.
Ill. Thee once was a man who was told by his physician, Im sorry, but you have rabies.
Upon hearing this, the patient immediately pulled out a pad and pencil and began to write.
Thinking the man was making out his will, the doctor said, Listen, this doesnt mean youre going to die. Theres a cure for rabies.
I know that, said the man. Im makin a list of people Im gonna bite.
Did you hear about the add in the paper that said, Wedding dress for sale, never worn. Will trade for 38 pistol.
Instead of being vengeful, we should be like the preacher who always refused to take revenge on folk. He said, I am not going to get even, Im going to tell God on you!
Any case of anger, whether it is legitimate or not, if it is allowed to run to its ultimate conclusion, will permit Satan to get the upper hand in our lives, 2 Cor. 2:11. When he does, he will feed our anger with self-pity, pride, self-righteousness, vengeance, defense of our rights, and every other sort of selfish sin and violation of Gods holy will.
That is why Jesus said this: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing," Matt. 5:23–26.
If we dont find the right outlet for our anger, it will destroy us!
Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter.
Stanton did, and showed the strongly worded missive to the president.
What are you going to do with it? Lincoln inquired.
Surprised, Stanton replied, Send it.
Lincoln shook his head. You don't want to send that letter, he said. Put it in the stove. That's what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It's a good letter and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, and write another.
Thats just what Lincoln did too. When Abraham Lincoln had to write a letter to someone who had irritated him, he would often write two letters. The first letter was deliberately insulting. Then, having gotten those feelings out of his system, he would tear it up or burn it and ten he would write a second letter, far more tactful and kind.
If we do not learn to handle our anger, it will eventually handle us!
He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated, Pro. 14:17.
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go, Pro. 22:24
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue, Pro. 25:23.
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression, Pro. 29:22.
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife, Pro. 15:18.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city, Pro. 16:32.
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression, Pro. 19:11.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? Pro. 27:4.
Conc: In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles' John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well.
I will say it again, the problem with is is that we are seldom angry in the right way, about the right things, at the right moment and in the right amount. Benjamin Franklin said this about anger, he said, Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.
If we are truly saved today, our tempers are another area of our lives that must be brought under the Lords control. When He is Lord, he will be the Lord even of our anger. May He help us to get our anger under His sovereign control.