Monday, March 2, 2015

Spirit of Anger

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8 NIV).

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).

Have you been angry with someone or over something? Are you struggling to overcome anger and be set free to forgive?  This past week, the Lord reminded me almost on a daily bases to write an article on the spirit of anger. This is a very important subject which is often overlooked from the pulpit. At one time or another in our lives, we have all been victims of anger, be it from our parents, relatives, peers or people we came across (while driving, for example). The emotional scars left by anger often last a lifetime. While it is true that we are often troubled by such memories, the Scriptures urge us to “… not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old” (Isaiah 43:18 HCSB).

Our article is not a complete study on anger; instead we seek to draw Biblical attention on how this emotion affects our relationship with God and prevents us from living the holy life that God expects of us (James 1:19-20 NIV). While on some occasions it might be acceptable to be angry, for example about social injustices or oppression directed at the weak and helpless, such as children (Mark 10:14), we must be very careful not to sin in whatever actions we choose to take and the words we use, since the Bible clearly warns us, "Be angry, and do not sin..." (Psalm 4:4 NKJV).

Sources of Anger

Anger is mainly caused either by activities outside our control, or as a result of our own actions, emotions and insecurities (Genesis 27:41; Genesis 31:36). Below we discuss only some of the main sources of anger. We need to stress that whatever level of anger there is, it unsettles relations. Just like laughter, anger is an emotion we all possess, and how we expresses it depends on the forces of restraint within us. These forces may be based on our level of respect or dislike towards the person whom we are directing our anger. We often show a strong and unrestrained anger if we harbor grudges or have hatred for someone (Genesis 34:25-27; 37:4; 2 Samuel 13:22, 29).

In emphasis, the Lord told us that the greatest source of anger is a loveless heart, and someone who does not have love has hatred; where hatred breeds, there is no peace (1 John 4:20). Therefore, the ‘happiness’ or satisfaction that an angry person receives is the hurt he or she inflicts onto his victim. A few months ago, I was directed by the Lord in a message to observe how impatience and complaining (Numbers 14:2-3) resulted in someone hurling insults and offensive remarks, climaxing into raging anger. The Lord further showed me that by the time a person resorts to insults, hatred has already made its appearance and possessed his or her heart. Consequently, love is subdued because we have allowed evil to overcome us (Romans 12:21; Luke 13:14).

In addition, another motivating factor for anger is greed. In the Bible, we see how Ahab was driven by selfishness and greed, and caused the death of Naboth, in order to lay his hands on Naboth’s well-groomed vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-16). It might be prudent to recall as well how King David’s lust resulted in the murder of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:1-15). King Asa's pride and lack of humility to repent from his sin of trusting in man instead of God led him to throw prophet Hanani in prison and also mistreat his own people (2 Chronicles 16:10).

Another source of anger is jealousy. We witness in the Bible how Cain made poor choices, disobeyed God and ended up murdering his brother, Abel, in a jealous rage (Genesis 4:8). We are warned not to allow the bad fruit of the sinful nature to rule our relationship with God and others (Galatians 5:19-20).

In the light of all these divisive vices, I have personally witnessed how friends and family relationships were destroyed leading to an almost chain reaction of re-occurrence in the lives of the victims. Anger simply breeds more anger and may lead to revenge, and if we allow anger to dominate and control us, the reward is self-destruction, self-pity and alienation (Proverbs 22:24-25).

Christians Hating One Another

There is a perceived hatred of one another in Christendom, which can be attributed partly to divisions in the body and some other factors. Some of the main causes of this include insubordination to church leadership, refusal to heed correction, ignorance of the Scriptures, bias, and lack of love. Brethren, while it is true that the Lord is forgiving and full of love, He is deeply hurt when we sin purposely. This can be likened to a husband or wife who deliberately commits adultery to hurt the other person. The Lord requires us to be faithful, pure, and holy (1 Peter 1:16; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9). When you hurt our fellow brethren in Christ and call them names, you only heap judgment on yourself! I beseech you in Jesus name, please stop hating and hurting your brothers and sisters in Christ! The Lord's coming is very NEAR, and He has told us this several times. The signs of the times, as well as fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, testify to this fact. So, please repent from your hateful and unforgiving feelings before it's too late! "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Psalm 95:7-8; Hebrews 3:7-8,15; 4:7).

In our personal experiences with the Lord, He warned many of us against the destructiveness of anger. Many of my fellow brethren and I were cautioned by the Lord for rebuking others angrily. The Lord said that such a rebuke meted out in anger is not based on true motives, but ill feelings of anger and revenge. Therefore, correction to our children or others is best meted out and appreciated when we respond in a spirit of love and peace. The Lord warns Christians to be careful with their words to their fellow brethren (Matthew 5:22; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 12:36-37). He says we are not called to scatter, but to build and gather with Him (Matthew 12:30). As we mentioned in the Harmful Words and Vision of Two Raptures article, being loud when talking or rebuking can come across as offensive and rude (Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 15:1).

Some Christians have a refined but evil way of telling others off in arrogance and with a hateful spirit if they are being corrected. Their hateful feelings are clearly manifested when they try by all means to dissociate themselves with those who corrected them. Admittedly, we might have differences on the application of certain Scriptures; however, our response must be in love, prayer and forgiveness. It is common practice among Christians today to ignore, dislike and avoid those who differ with them or who don’t attend their church. The truth is, we show no love to one another simply because we don’t attend or belong to the same church organisation; that is hypocrisy, since we are members of the same BODY. Therefore, love should be shown and given indiscriminately to all including our enemies (Romans 12:4-5), for in Christ we are unified in love (Ephesians 4:5)!

As we mentioned above, every negative vice finds its climax in anger. Through our work in the ministry, we often found ourselves at the receiving end of bitter and vitriolic bursts of anger from people who are self-righteous and who despise correction. In some of these experiences, when I responded kindly and in a gentle spirit I would receive grace from the Lord with Him personally rebuking and punishing those who offended me, but if I retaliated trying to defend myself the Lord would not be pleased with me instead giving me a rebuke for my irreverence (Romans 12:19).

God’s Righteous Anger

The Lord's anger is righteous and it comes controlled devoid of malice (1 Kings 21:29). He measures punishment equal or equivalent to the offence, and it is always with a spirit of mercy (Hebrews 8:12; Micah 7:19). The Lord is angry when we sin against Him and don't trust in His deliverance (Psalm 78:17-31). He was angry and wanted to destroy Aaron and the children of Israel when they worshiped the golden calf, but when Moses interceded for them, He relented (Exodus 32:7-14; Deuteronomy 9:19-20). The Lord was angry with the Israelites when they complained in their tents against the Lord, not trusting Him to fight for them in their journey to the promised land, even though He had helped them and performed great signs and wonders in Egypt (Deuteronomy 1:26-36). They were not walking by faith, but by sight (Hebrews 11:6). We provoke God to anger when refuse to turn from our evil ways, fail to follow His commandments, choose to live worldly, or leave Him to serve idols (2 Kings 17:16-18; Deuteronomy 9:16; 1 Kings 11:9). We can all escape God’s wrath by believing in and following Jesus Christ, for the Word says “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

Just like King Asa, King Uzziah was angry because of pride, and he was unfaithful to the Lord. He forcefully entered the temple to burn incense to the Lord, even after he was warned by the priests. He became angry and he was subsequently punished by the Lord: “Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the incense altar” (2 Chronicles 26:19).

How to Control and Overcome Anger

Rightfully, there is simply no one way to control the spirit of anger in us. We must employ all available Biblical mechanisms. Provocation leads to anger, but if we answer gently and wisely we would avoid quarrels (Proverbs 15:1). There are factors within us and on the outside that might help us control anger.

On the inside we control and overcome the spirit of anger through love, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control and humility to mention but a few (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). In contrast, we fuel anger through, lusts, greed, jealousy, pride, unforgiveness, hatred and a loveless heart (Galatians 5:19-21). Let me reiterate that an unforgiving person has no peace, and anger rules that person’s spirit. We have peace when we forgive (Ephesians 4:32). We mention "loveless heart" because the Lord mentioned this in a stunning rebuke to someone; the Lord said that person had no love in him; instead, he allowed an evil hatred to take root and to control him. Brethren, if there is anyone of you who struggles to love our Lord Jesus and others around you (Matthew 22:36-40), I strongly encourage you to STUDY your BIBLE, pray often daily, spending time in the Lord's Presence, and He will make a spirit of love grow within you, for He is love (1 John 4:8). However, you must have faith and a burning desire for this precious fruit (Romans 5:5; John 14:14).

On the outside we may control anger through silence (1 Peter 2:23). Being loud-mouthed invites trouble; we must control our mouths to experience peace as opposed to stirring anger (James 1:26). We invite trouble when we gossip and live disobediently to the Lord’s teachings. When we spend our time excessively away from the Lord (television, movies, gaming, etc.) and dwell elsewhere in worldliness and pleasures, we build up anger and become targets of Satan, who is ready to deposit evil and hatred (1 Peter 5:8). Diplomatically, anger is also diffused when warring parties respect the mediating role of a facilitator who proved trustworthy; Christ is that mediator. Some people may need to fast and pray for deliverance from the spirit of anger (Matthew 17:21).

Let us trust in God's grace to deliver us from His coming wrath. Salvation is priceless through the blood of Christ, so let anger not hinder us entering into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:3). As children of God, we are called to be peacemakers so that we may rest in the Lord daily (Matthew 5:9). “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). Remember, anger leads to irresponsible action into a punishable offense. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” (Ephesians 4:26). To overcome anger, the Scriptural wisdom on overcoming anxiety and having peace equally applies: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Finally, the Bible teaches us that "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV). And "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). So, if you have been walking in complaints and anger, being a troubled soul engaging in contentions, you surely have no love but have a spirit of hatred. If you  have such hateful feelings as evident through fighting, jealousy,fits of anger, etc., please repent earnestly and without delay, forgive those who hurt you (Matthew 6:15; Matthew 18:21-22; Mark 11:26 NKJV), and choose to walk in Christ's perfect love which casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please get started by praying this suggested Prayer of Sincere Repentance.

For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Grace to You in Abundance,
Brother Glenn and Preparing For the Kingdom Team.