The watermelon metaphor helps us to understand that transformation in the Christian life from the before Christ state (old man) to the after Christ state (new man) is a transformation from the inside out and that new man is different. The first area we talked about was The New Man Speaks Truth. We continue with…
The New Man Expresses Anger without Sin
26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
There are 4 imperatives or commands in this passage:
Be Angry. Anger is an emotion that is at its beginnings is morally neutral. I used to say that all the time. I am beginning to re-define that. Here it is a command. “Be angry.” There are situations and circumstances in which it is inappropriate to hold back anger or to tell yourself that everything is ok. It is interesting to me what makes the believer angry, and what things many people don’t get angry about. The anger that is commanded here is an anger that is rooted in justice/injustice. It is appropriate to be angry at certain things.
I just finished a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer – he was a pastor who lived in pre-Nazi and Nazi Germany. He was executed for his part in one of the many plots to kill Adolph Hitler. It was justified to be angry at Hitler. It would have been wrong to hold back anger, or suppress anger toward Hitler and Nazi Germany.
There are many situations where anger is appropriate on a smaller scale as well. In those situations, be angry.
Do not sin. This is the second command in these two verses (Ephesians 4:26-27) dealing with anger. Anger is an emotion that needs to be handled with care. It is easy in our anger to allow emotion to take over and to sin: To speak inappropriately, to use force, physical action that is inappropriate, to justify revenge, or to neglect duty as a result of the emotion of anger. So the Scripture is harsh in its warnings about the effects of anger abused, and this is where we get our sense that anger itself is wrong.
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. This third command with regard to anger is time frame oriented. Anger has this awful way of morphing into other things, dangerous things, destructive things. Anger leads to depression. Anger leads to bitterness. Anger leads to lethargy. There is a reason we have a category of human behavior called passive-aggressive.
Some of you are stewers with regard to anger. Some of you are a brush fire. Some of you are a forest fire. All of these have dangers associated with them.
Don’t give the devil an opportunity. This is the fourth command with regard to anger. This verse is closely tied with the commands regarding anger, and in order to make the connection we must emphasize the common thread in this whole chapter, that is, truth.
The sun going down is a metaphor for sleep. When we sleep we are saying with our posture that we are at rest, we are at peace. But when I lay my head down on the pillow and my internal state is anger, there is a lack of congruity between my actions and my emotional and mental state. That is the equivalent of lying. The devil is called the father of lies. So when I bury a volatile and powerful emotion that has a tendency in and of itself to transform into other kinds of destructive emotional states of being I have joined forces with the father of lies in deceiving myself.
This state of being is dangerous and invasive. It begins to distort my thinking not only as I sleep but in my waking hours. I begin to grow accustomed to this sort of lying and soon see it as normal. It is no wonder that so many people suffer from sleep related disorders; Anger is at work on your pillow.
I want to shanghai a verse from Jesus and apply it here. Do you remember where Jesus says that when you find yourselves at worship and recall that you have something against a brother, leave the altar, find your brother and be reconciled? I think it would be good if you added your bed to that equation.
Paul is quoting from the Psalms here in Ephesians 4. Here is how the original saying is worded, I find it interesting and instructive to compare the two:
Psalm 4:4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
I split this weeks sermon into several blog posts…so still to come this week from Ephesians 4:25-32:
- The New Man Gives
- The New Man is Gracious
- The New Man does not Grieve the Spirit