Anger is a problem for many of us. We often embarrass ourselves because of anger. Anger causes us to say things we may not mean and certainly should not have verbalized even if we did mean them. Anger is the catalyst for many crimes causing many people to do things they never would have done except for anger.
Ephesians 4 instructs new Christians to put off the old man and put on the new man. Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us to put off anger, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (NASU) Verse 26 indicates that not all anger is wrong and that it is possible to be angry and not sin.
Deuteronomy 9:8 speaks of God getting angry at His people. Many other Old Testament passages speak of that as well. Multiple passages in the New Testament tell us about Jesus being angry at religious leaders deriving exorbitant profits in conjunction with Temple sacrifices.
Mark 3:5 tells us that Jesus got angry at religious leaders who were trying to trap Him and misusing the Sabbath in the process. Certainly God is not guilty of sin in His anger. Shall I remind you that you and I must be very careful in this area? You and I are not totally holy and righteous. We are tainted and corrupted by sin. We do not have omniscience; we do not see the whole picture. Our motives are almost never pure. Perhaps it is true that our motives are never pure. It is almost impossible for us to get angry and not fall into some sin.
Unjust anger is wrong. Excessive anger, even if it is righteous, is wrong. Anger from an impure motive is wrong.
The easiest and best way (really, the only way that I am aware of) to be angry and still not sin is to only be angry at sin and never at people. This is certainly not an easy task. I am much better at it than I was in years past but I did get angry even this week.
Jesus emphasized the importance in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (NASU) I assume that you do not need a stronger warning.
Paul supplies a marvelous aid in this struggle in Ephesians 4:26; we are told not to let the sun go down on our anger. What a beautiful reminder this is. Sunset comes regularly and soon. If we deal with our anger in less than 24 hours, surely we will have far less occasion to fall into sin.
Surely Paul was aware of God’s condemnation of his people in Hosea 7:6-7 “For their hearts are like an oven As they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, In the morning it burns like a flaming fire. All of them are hot like an oven, And they consume their rulers; All their kings have fallen. None of them calls on Me.” (NASU)
What a marvelous warning against letting anger smolder. Ephesians 4:27 above reminds us that anger in our lives gives the devil opportunity to entice us into self-destruction.