ANGER AND SIN

OR: DOES ANGER INCLUDE SIN?



W. H. SHOPE

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Ephesians 4:26

It would be safe to say that most Christians believe...and most independent Baptist preachers teach...that the above Ephesians verse teaches that, if a Christian is angry, he should seek to resolve the causes for his anger before he has a night's sleep. The assumption, then, is that it is impossible to be without sin while angry and that, therefore, it is essential that the anger cease before the sun goes down. But, is that the teaching of God's Word?

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
Psalms 37:8

It is enlightening to compare these two verses. In the Ephesians verse, we are told to BE angry and avoid sin. In the Psalm, we are to NOT BE angry and to forsake wrath. It is apparent that God exposes His creation to His wrath, both in the present and in the future.

And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Second Chronicles 19:2

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
First Thessalonians 5:9

(The First Thessalonians verse alludes to the time of His Wrath which follows the coming Great Tribulation.)

So, it is obvious that God, Who can do no sin, readily employs His wrath. It is equally obvious that, while angry, it is quite possible to avoid sin IF we do not consider it possible for ourselves to deliver the wrath of God.

Now that we have established that there are many who do not teach this verse correctly, we should consider the logic to be found in God's Word. Consider, for instance, an anger which might develop as we learn of those who murder the developing babies in the womb. Is it not foolish to discard this anger before going to bed, only to develop it again the next morning? Of course it is! This anger should be ever present within us. But, we know that it is God Who will eventually cause these murderers to experience His wrath.

Actually, it is the last part of the Ephesians verse which completely destroys the common teaching. We are told to "let not the sun go down upon your wrath:." That which is not realized by many is that this matter of the sun going down is not a reference to that which occurs every day.

Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
Micah 3:5-6

Among the jews, the expression "the sun shall go down" refers to a cessation of activity. So, in the case of the Ephesians verse, where it is stated that we are NOT to let the sun go down, it simply means that we are not to let the activity cease. The activity includes, of course, that of being angry. This verse, most definitely, supports the concept of a "righteous anger." When your anger can be supported by a teaching in the Word of God, that anger should NEVER cease! This does not mean, of course, that you will go about with a red face and smoke coming out of your ears. It will certainly mean, however, that it will not be affected by something so ridiculously trivial as the time you choose for your evening nap.