A Christian...but Angry. Could This Be You?
by Josh Tomlinson
[Christian Boot Camp is a series of teachings on topics (which CBC refers to as “Belief Deceptions”) that cripple churches, such as pride, offense, anger, fear, self-righteousness, denial, blame-shifting, enabling and victim mentality, just to name a few. These weekly teachings — complete with accompanying slides — can help your church get on the road to total health. The following article is a very short excerpt of the CBC teaching on the subject of Anger. Contact Innovative Church & Worship Consulting for more details.]
Anger is a spirit; a demonic, foul spirit, that wants to destroy you. I was controlled by the spirit of anger for the first 80+% of my life. So, I am very familiar with this spirit. The problem was that I was in denial about my anger problems.
Just to make sure that you’re not in denial as I was, right now, ask yourself this: “Am I an angry person?” How did you answer? If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t answer with a yes or a no. Most people’s answer sounds something like, “I have my moments, but for the most part, I can control my anger.”
So, if you’ve decided that you’re not an angry person, just to make 100% sure you're not, I’d like you to take this quiz:
- Do you ever honk at another driver to let them know you’re mad?
- During a conversation, do you ever interrupt, or talk over someone?
- Do you ever go to bed angry at someone?
- Do you ever roll your eyes in response to someone?
- Do you have a habit of withdrawing yourself from a relationship in order to show your offense?
- Are you known to leave a bad tip to your server because of bad service?
- Do you respond angrily, short, or delayed to text messages to show your anger?
- Do you slam doors to show your anger?
- Are you known to physically elevate yourself above someone during a conversation?
- Do you use foul language to command control of a conversation?
- Do you have a history of giving the silent treatment in order to punish someone?
- Do you have a history of being condescending toward others during a conversation?
- Do you have a history of telling someone that you’re mad/offended at another person?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions—yes, any of these questions, maybe you should sit down for this. It’s very likely that you have an anger problem.
So, now that you’re partially out of denial, I want to make sure you get fully out of denial. If you're thinking, “I just need to do better at not being angry”, ummm....that isn't going to work. Don’t get me wrong. It’s noble of you to not want to be angry. But statements that start with, “I need to…”, “I’ll try to…” and “I should…” really aren’t effective at altering behaviors.
How I Got Free from Anger
I’d like to tell you that I’m just a disciplined person, and that I simply set my mind to stop being angry. But that just wouldn’t be true. The truth is, about seven years ago, I came across a passage in Galatians that changed everything for me:
"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry (putting anything before God), sorcery (which includes illegal drug use), hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension (rebelling conflict), division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 NLT).
Yes, you heard this scripture right.
The New King James Version says, “…Those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” In other words, those who regularly have outbursts of anger will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
“Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God” Defined
So, when I first read this passage, I knew I was guilty. I mean, just to choose one example, when someone inconvenienced me on the road, honking or giving a mean look was always a normal, immediate reflex for me; kind of like your knee jerk reaction when the doctor hits your knee with that rubber reflex hammer. So, coming to the realization that living in anger would cost me “The Kingdom of God” was quite an alarming thought.
But I didn’t know if, “…Will not inherit the Kingdom of God” meant, on one extreme, not going to heaven, or to the other extreme of, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy certain Kingdom benefits here on earth. So, I did what I always do when I need more insight on a particular passage: I googled “Galatians 5:19-21 commentary.” Here’s what I found regarding Will not inherit the Kingdom of God:
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: “…and these sins will shut men out of heaven…”
- Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: “Cannot possibly be saved.”
- Matthew Poole’s Commentary: “that they who ordinarily do these things, and do not only live in such practices, but die without repentance for them, shall never be saved.”
Now, I don’t really want to take on the long, heated debate of eternal security (once saved, always saved). I’ve heard many, many teachings on both sides. In fact, I could state quite a case — and give a lengthy sermon on both extremes of this dispute from pastors and evangelists that I’ve always admired who sit on both sides of the fence. But here’s the stance I’ve chosen to take on the Once Saved, Always Saved debate: I’d rather err on the side of caution. In other words, I’d rather be safe than sorry. So, for me, if there was even a remote chance that anger would cost me my eternal security, I had to ask myself, “Is it really worth it to be angry?”
Be Angry and Sin Not
In conclusion, I know many of you may be wondering about the bible passage that says, “Be angry and sin not” (Eph. 4:26). To be clear, this passage means that we should have a righteous anger; without letting it escalate into sin. For example, as followers of Christ, we should have a righteous anger toward the killing of unborn children, but without blowing up an abortion clinic. Jesus Himself became angry. He was angry about the merchants in the temple. He became angry with the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. And He was angry when He was ridiculed for healing someone on the Sabbath. But here’s the thing: He never allowed His anger to lead to sin.
Jesus was our example. And just like everything He overcame, if He could do it, we can, too:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
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