Be Angry and Do Not Sin
Updated: Jun 3, 2021
Is anger sin? Can you be angry without sinning? Why do people get angry? How to deal with our anger? We will find out in this article.
Mechanism of anger
Anger is a burning feeling that is triggered when a person is frustrated, hurt, or feels treated unfairly. When someone is angry, they can turn into a different person and their behaviour becomes erratic. No one likes to be near angry people. It destroys relationships. It is one of the leading causes of divorce. It splits a team. It can even lead to murder.
Anger does not only affect other people; it also affects the person who is angry. It can cause adverse physical conditions including high blood pressure, headaches, stomach ulcers and more. People who are angry find it hard to think clearly and objectively. They can easily end up making foolish decisions or doing something stupid they never imagined they were capable of.
Anger is often associated with violence. Although anger is just a feeling, it can lead to sinful behaviour. However, if you are aware that you are angry and deal with it instantly, your anger will not culminate in ungodly action. The longer you dwell on your anger, the higher the chances you will engage in sinful behaviour.
The longer you dwell on your anger, the higher the chances you will engage in sinful behaviour.
Cain and Abel were the sons of the first two humans, Adam and Eve. One day, they brought offerings to God. Cain offered fruit, while Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. God was pleased with Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. Cain was not only unhappy, he was furious.
The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen 4:6-7)
God urged Cain to subdue his anger, or it would lead to destruction. The fact that the Lord advised him to deal with his anger and the potential sin implies that he had a choice over his actions. Sin could not rule over him without his permission. Sadly, Cain chose to do what was wrong. He gave in to his infuriated urge and killed his brother, making him the first murderer on earth.
People tend to categorise anger as sin because of the many sinful acts that arise from it. But anger is not necessarily a sin. While it can lead to sinful behaviour, anger in itself is not a sin.
While it can lead to sinful behaviour, anger in itself is not a sin.
The Old Testament clearly depicts God as a Holy God who was angry when His righteous principles were compromised. He was indignant when His people turned away from Him to worship idols. To Him, they were committing spiritual adultery as they lusted after false gods. In wrath, He disciplined His people again and again. God’s holy nation was repeatedly attacked by their pagan neighbours. Israel was eventually destroyed by the Assyrians; Judah was crushed by the Babylonians and her people taken into exile.
Jesus is always portrayed as a kind, gentle man. Yet, in reality He was not without a temper. In Jerusalem He entered the Temple and drove out all who used the premises as a marketplace (Matt 21:12-13; Mk 11:15-18; Jn 2:13-22). Though the Bible does not specify that the Son of God acted out of anger, one could hardly imagine that He chased the people away gently and turned over tables without fury. In fact, John said the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Jn 2:17). It is clear that Jesus was consumed with emotion at that moment.
Once, upon entering a synagogue, Jesus found a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched carefully to see if He would violate their manmade Sabbatical law. To them, the rules took precedence over people’s welfare. But for Jesus, the law should be created to bless people. Knowing their evil hearts, Jesus looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mk 3:1-6)
In these events Jesus was angry, yet He did not sin. His anger or subsequent actions were not regarded as sins.
What was the difference between Cain’s and Jesus’ anger? Why was Cain’s anger ungodly while Jesus’ was holy? It is the reason for anger that determines whether it is holy or sinful. Cain was angry because he was jealous. His anger was kindled by self-centredness. In contrast, Jesus was angry when the Father in heaven was dishonoured and the disabled man was not cared for. Anger that is rooted in self-centredness is wrong and may lead to sin. Righteous anger stems from the fact that a godly principle is violated and a person mistreated.
Anger that is rooted in self-centredness is wrong and may lead to sin. Righteous anger stems from the fact that a godly principle is violated and a person mistreated.
In fact, in certain situations, staying calm and not being angry could be considered a sin. If you witness a woman being harassed and you are indifferent to it, there is something wrong within you. If you see a person being treated with injustice and you are not bothered, there is something not right in your heart. A righteous person will be irritated and try to do something when someone is mistreated.
Though anger is not intrinsically a sin, controlling your temper is the best way to go. When you get angry, do everything you can to control yourself. This requires self-discipline, as with any temptations that arise in our lives.
Though anger is not intrinsically a sin, controlling your temper is the best way to go.
Anger is an emotional reaction to something that irritates you. You may not have a button you can push to freeze or kill that feeling. But what you can do is resist the urge to react when you are fuming. It is difficult but doable, because it is a biblical instruction. If you keep practising self-control, you will find it easier to manage your anger.
Paul says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Eph 4:26-27). You can be angry. But you must not sin. More importantly, when you are angry, settle it as soon as possible, or you may fall prey to the enemy who would incite you to sin.
Anger is not always wrong. As a feeling you may not be able to kill it, but you can manage it. It is not a sin in itself. Rather, how you respond to it determines whether you will sin.
Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version
Copyright©️2021 by Prakich Treetasayuth. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.