Doctrine of Anger

February 18, 2015


A. Definition.
1. Anger is a mental attitude sin and is used as an anthropopathism related to divine judgment. Anger in man is a sin. In God, it expresses a change of policy in terms of human frame of reference.
2. As a mental attitude sin, anger expresses antagonism, hatred, exasperation, resentment, irrationality. It can be mental or emotional or both. The Greek word ORGE refers to mental anger, THUMOS to emotional anger. In Eph 4:31, both types are related to bitterness.
3. Anger is a sin which motivates honor code violations like gossip, judging, maligning others. Most sins result in chain sinning.
4. Anger is a mental attitude reaction. If it is unjustifiable, it becomes a reaction of antagonism which makes it a sin and a reaction of irritation, exasperation, and irrationality. Justifiable reaction is never irrational.
5. The Bible distinguishes between mental and emotional anger. If your right lobe is dominating, you can react in mental anger (ORGE). If your reaction is from emotional revolt, then it is emotional anger (THUMOS). Both are unjustifiable reactions.

B. Results of Anger.
1. Anger motivates jealousy and cruelty, Prov 27:4. A person can’t be angry without being cruel and unfair.
2. Anger is related to stupidity, Eccl 7:9. “Do not be hasty to be angry in your right lobe; for anger resides in the bosom of fools.” Satan had anger and it turned a genius into an ass. Anger turns any person into a stupid ass. A person is never smart when angry, which is why many stupid and embarrassing things are said in anger. If you have to deal with some problem and must have your senses about you, don’t lose your temper!
3. Anger is a sin from the old sin nature, Gal 5:20.
4. Anger is never an isolated sin, Prov 29:22. “An angry person stirs up strife, and a hot tempered person abounds in transgression.”
5. Anger destroys a nation, Amos 1:11. “So decrees the Lord, ‘For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not revoke its punishment. Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and he maintained his anger forever.’”
6. Anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit, Eph 4:30-31. “Stop grieving the Holy Spirit, the God by whom you have been sealed to the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and slander be removed from you, together with all evil.”
7. Anger is a violation of the royal family honor code, Col 3:8. “But now you also put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”
8. Anger hinders effective prayer, 1 Tim 2:8. “Therefore, I desire that men in every place pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and without dissension.”
9. Anger results in selfinduced misery, Prov 22:8. You fail to interpret history or your circumstances correctly, become frustrated and then angry, which results in selfinduced misery.
10. Anger is the source of chain sinning. This is hidden, hypocritical anger.
11. Anger causes misery to those in your periphery, Amos 1:11; Prov 21:19, 22:24, 25:24, 29:22.

C. Anger in the New Testament, Eph 4:26.
1. The verse is correctly translated, “Although you may have become angry, in spite of that stop sinning.”
a. This is quoted from Ps 4:4, which teaches David’s righteous indignation at the revolt of his son Absalom and his temptation to anger being checked. “Tremble with anger, yet do not sin.”
(1) David was tempted to become angry at Absalom, his son, because he used his personality to start a revolution against his father. If David had continued in his reaction, it would have become anger and a sin. But David was able to stop his temptation by occupation with Christ.
(2) Anger is an emotional sin, and therefore, always irrational. David never became angry at Absalom; he asked the army to spare Absalom, 2 Sam 18:5.
(3) If anger continues and you have bitterness or vindictiveness, your vindictiveness will come out either verbally or as some form of retaliation or revenge.
b. It is possible to respond to unfairness apart from sin. You can be angry because of maltreatment or gossip from others, and yet still put the matter in the Lord’s hands. But that is not what is taught in Eph 4:26.
c. When maltreated, never let reaction to maltreatment become sin. If you retaliate, then your reaction becomes anger. Then you will violate the royal family honor code. Never let reaction become sin.
d. However, the Greek New Testament emphasizes righteousness maintained in the face of unfair treatment. In this verse, the emphasis is on anger as the motivation for violation of the royal family honor code. There is no righteous indignation in Eph 4:26.
2. Believer’s with arrogant subjectivity look down at others and hide their anger until one day when they explode at friends or loved ones. This is a flawed character. This is a hidden anger instead of an outburst of anger.
3. In Eph 4:26, the believer has already become angry and is warned to stop immediately before he violates the royal family honor code and greater damage is done. Anger is the motivation for many other sins which are violations of the royal family honor code.
4. As an irrational sin of emotion, mental attitude anger expresses antagonism, hatred, resentment. It often expresses itself in slander and even violence and murder.
5. Anger violates the following principles of the royal family honor code.
(1) Two wrongs do make a right. Anger plus another sin is not right.
(2) You cannot build your happiness on someone else’s unhappiness. This is exactly what retaliation tries to do. You will never become happy by getting revenge.
(3) To punish someone else by revenge modus operandi such as verbal sins or violence is synonymous with obstruction of divine punishment and blasphemy toward divine justice.
(4) Anger becomes involved with arrogance and opens the gate to all of the manifestations of arrogance and sin.
(5) Anger is motivation for murder.

D. Righteous Indignation.
1. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. But it is not anger, an emotion. It is a clear understanding of a bad situation. Righteous indignation is response to unfair treatment by concentration on your relationship with God. Reaction leads to anger and sin.
2. When it says in Mk 10:14 that Jesus became righteously opposed to the disciples when they forbade the children to be brought to Him, it is not anger. It is an understanding of a wrong, and not appreciating it at all.
3. Jesus expressed what might be called righteous indignation in Mt 23:13-36 against the Scribes and Pharisees. He wasn’t angry when He chewed them out, but expressed righteous indignation.
4. Jesus wasn’t angry when He said to Peter in Mt 16:23, “Get behind me Satan, you [Peter] are a stumbling block to Me. You have not concentrated on the things [doctrines] of God, but on the things of man.”
5. Anger is used as an anthropopathism in two phrases which are found many times in the Bible:
a. “The anger of the Lord.” Num 25:4, 32:14; Dt 29:20; Jud 3:8, 10:7, 2:14, 20; 2 Kg 24:20; Lam 4:11; Jer 4:8, 25:37, 30:24, 51:45, 52:3; Zeph 2:2-3; Ps 2:5.
b. “The wrath of God.” 2 Chr 28:11; Ezra 10:14; Ps 78:31; Jn 3:36; Rom 1:18; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; Rev 14:10, 19, 15:1,7, 16:1, 19:15.

E. Principles of Anger.
1. Anger destroys virtue in the subject. Therefore, anger destroys the function of impersonal love, Eph 5:26. Anger destroys marriage.
2. Anger which does not destroy the virtue of the subject is classified as righteous displeasure or righteous indignation, Ps 4:4.
3. Anger, as a sin, is a violation of the royal family honor code.
4. Impersonal love maintains the virtue of the subject, but sinful anger destroys the function of impersonal love.
5. When sinful anger is perpetuated, it becomes the motivation for many sins. Therefore, “never let the sun set on your anger.”
6. “To be angry and sin not” is righteous indignation. But, too often, righteous indignation is an excuse for the function of legalism.
7. All unbelievers in their status of spiritual death are said to be in the status quo of “wrath.” In Rom 9:22, unbelievers are all called “vessels of wrath.” In Eph 2:3, unbelievers are said to be “by nature the children of wrath.” The future of the unbeliever is said to be “under the wrath of God” in Jn 3:36.
8. Like arrogance, anger is a sin that motivates other sins. It is a way of fragmenting your own life.
9. Arrogance motivates emotional sins like jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, implacability, revenge, self-pity. Anger is the other side of the coin with jealousy. Criminal activity is the function of the arrogant and angry person. Anger always adds wrong to wrong, sin to sin.
10. Most people who spend their time in anger have a temporary loss of self-esteem or it is a manifestation that no self-esteem existed in the first place.