Can A Christian Be Angry and Not Sin? Is it Biblical to Be Angry?

by Jack Wellman on June 10, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

If a Christian gets angry, is this sin?   Do we have a right to be angry?  What does the Bible teach about being angry if you are a Christian?

Righteous Indignation

The Bible actually teaches that we can be angry but we are also told not to sin in doing so.  There are some things in this world that should make a Christian angry.  There is so much injustice, robbing of widows by schemes, the abuse of children, and violence against the defenseless.  Paul actually commands us to be angry, believe it or not, by saying, Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Eph 4:26).  This is an imperative command Paul gives to be angry…but it is conditional.  Don’t

Can A Christian be Angry and Not Sin

The Bible actually teaches that we can be angry but we are also told not to sin in doing so

let the sun go down on your anger.”  In other words, get angry but get over it and, do not give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27a).   Some things ought to make us angry in this world but to remain angry is sin.  This seems contradictory at first reading:  Be angry but don’t stay angry for that is sin.  If you read these two verses in the context of the entire chapter of Ephesians 4, you can see why Paul told the church members to be angry.  Some were stealing, others had unwholesome language, there was brawling, rage, and slander (Eph 4:28-34).  Certainly this type of behavior is not fitting for members of Christ’s church and Paul had ever reason to be angry over such behavior because it shames the Cross of Christ and hurts the witness of the church.  This was just the opposite of what Paul taught the Christians to be like (Eph 4:20).  The Psalmist agrees with Paul and perhaps this is what Paul actually quoted from in Psalms 4:4a be angry, and do not sin.” David was often angry but not without a just cause.

God is Angry at Sinners

God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day says Psalm 7:11.  This wrath or righteous indignation is not directed at Christians but at the unrepentant.  Evidence of this fact is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 which says, For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  A key point here is that the wrath of God has been removed through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not by us but by Christ’s atoning work at Calvary.  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole (Gal 3:13).

God’s wrath then is directed at non-believers, as it is written in Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”  There is good news for believers and bad news for non-believers concerning God’s wrath Who “will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you (2 Thess 2:8-10).   Paul specifically clears the believers (v 10) from this warning of the wrath of God to come on all those who have not believed in God or obeyed the gospel (v 8).

God became angry at Moses in Exodus 4:14 because Moses kept making excuses for not being able to speak well to free Israel who were enslaved to the Egyptian’s.  God is angry when we mistreat strangers, foreigners, widows, and orphans (Ex 22:21-24).  This ought to make the Christian angry too; when non-believers or Christians mistreat those who are defenseless or disenfranchised.  God can become angry even at His own nation if they are breaking His commandments (Ex 32:10) but He has every right to do so.

Jesus Was Angry

Jesus also became angry as we read in John 2 14-16  where He cleansed the temple because in the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market.”  Jesus had ever right to be angry because the merchants were selling animals for the sacrifices at an inflated rate, they were robbing those who came to exchange currency to buy animals for sacrifice, and they were making a mockery of the temple of God.  It had become a den of thieves instead of holy sacrifices to God.  The merchants were taking advantage of those coming to the temple to make sacrifices and they were in it only to turn a profit. (You can see a video of this from a movie about the life of Jesus in the top right corner of this article)

One time, Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.   Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 3:1-6).  Here Jesus looked at the religious hypocrites and was angry that the Sabbath Law allowed them to free a trapped animal yet their man-made laws prohibited others from doing good on the Sabbath.  They had substituted man-made laws and rules and placed it equal too or above the Law of God and in fact had nullified God’s holy Law by their own vain (useless, empty) traditions (Mark 7:13).

Anger Leading to Sin

Some anger is good as we read in Ephesians 4 but James warns that human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:20).  James commands us to “be slow to anger” (1:19).  Psalm 37:8 says we are to, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.” Ephesians 4:31 reminds us “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”  Paul writes again, “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Col 3:8).  Paul warns us to leave to God all those things that we can not make right because God will judge all unrighteousness someday.

Revenge is not the way to have justice served and so we are told, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom 12:19).  Ultimately, all things will be settled in the Supreme Court of God (Rev 20).  Every single person that has ever lived or will yet live, will have to give an account for everything that they have ever done or ever said.  You can get angry at injustices and in fact you should get angry at some things but instead of lashing out in anger, you can call the police when you see a child abused, you can tell the authorities when you know someone is being robbed and leave it up to the God ordained authorities (Romans 13).  These things ought to make us angry if we have any sort of conscience, just don’t let the sun go down on your anger for God will avenge and if we trust God’s perfect justice, ultimately no one will ever get away with anything.

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Resources – New International Version Bible (NIV). THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Phyllis Minga June 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

I have an adopted grandson who has high functioning autism, seizures, and problems with anger management. He was abused by his parents and abandoned. This past week during bible School I was told that he could no longer attend our church. i was very active in my church and i was floored. i cried like I’ve never cried before. This child is only 10 years old. I went over some of this with him. i will continue to go over scripture about how this because i feel it’s important to let him know how to deal with anger. He was being teased by some of the other children in the church and that is what started all of this. Please pray for him and me to lead him in the right direction. He is getting counseling and has been getting it since he was 5 years old. He is still not at the age of accountability and the church seems to have abandoned him also. They have told me i can come to church, but not him. How can go where my child is not welcome? I hurt for him and I ask God everyday to take this anger away.

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Jack Wellman June 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Hello Phyllis. I am sorry I am responding so late to this very important question and comment. What a predicament you are in. I see what you mean by asking how can you come and not bring your child? I think that those in the church should not be allowed to tease him for one thing. Is he being teased in Sunday school or in the sanctuary? In either event, this should not be allowed for the boy has difficulties that are not his fault and as a pastor, I would rebuke anyone who allowed this (the parents are included), either the parents or the children should be corrected. Have you tried talking to the parents of the children doing the teasing? If the parents are allowing their children to tease this boy, they are responsible and not so much the children.

Perhaps he could spend time in the nursery or do they have children’s church, where many churches have a separate service for young children.

On the other hand, if the boy is disrupting services, the pastor has ever right to ensure the preaching is not adversely affected, even though the boy is not at fault, if the pastor can not teach during services, then the whole body suffers. I will pray for him and for you too. Talk to the pastor and ask him why he would allow the parents of the children who tease him to do so. Otherwise, come to services just a little bit late, after services have began and you won’t have to deal with other children for they will already have been seated while services are already underway. You can come in just after the opening hymns or announcements are started and that way everyone is seated already and the children who tease him will be in the pews. Does any of this help? I pray it does.

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Daniel July 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Hi Jack,
I was recently in a situation that has been ongoing. My mentor’s husband is in his 80’s as well as my mentor. However, as sweet as my mentor is, her husband has always been rude and cranky to me on the phone. Behind my back he basically looks down on me and questions why his wife ( my mentor) would even bother to mentor and give counsel to me, even though I’ve grown tremendously in my spiritual walk thanks to her help. Anyway, I was having a very rough day. Disappointment and frustration and lack of sleep were making me overly sensitive. My mentor’s husband was once again quite rude to me on the phone, somewhat yelling at me over and then hung up on me. I was angry and for the first time, I called him back and calmly said ”I’m sorry we had a misunderstanding but please don’t yell at me and hang up the phone. Thank you”. Then I hung up the phone. Since he is in his 80’s was I wrong to respond that way? I’ve had a long-suffering attitude to his negativity to me, but finally I called him out on it, albeit not in an angry way. Was this appropriate, considering his age or the circumstance? Is it OK to confront calmly, even if we are triggered by anger, as long as we don’t deal directly with the person by expressing anger? I know I called him back in anger, as I was tired of being treated that way. However I didn’t yell at him. I was calm and collective. Sorry for the long comment. Thanks Jack and I love to read your perspectives and spiritual insights. You’ve helped my own faith grow much!

Reply

Jack Wellman July 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Daniel…please first accept my apology. My computer crashed and I have just now got a new one up and running and so I am sorry for responding so late. I don’t normally reply this late.

As far as your anger, it was a righteous anger and you are human. Yes, perhaps you should have not called him back for it could have escalated but I can not cast stones…we are all human, even Christians are human still and so don’t beat yourself up. I loved though that you took the high road and was calm and collected. That is wonderful. I truly respect you for that. Sometimes people deserve to hear our anger when they are treating you unfairly and you are innocent.

One concern to me is that your mentor’s husband does not sound like a Christian at all and so he is likely angry at your obedience to the Word of God and growing in grace and knowledge.

The righteous always make sinners angry and that’s a good sign. Read 1 John chapter 3, Romans 12 and 1 Cor 13 and you will see that this man does not appear to be saved and so we can pray for God to convict this man of his sin of rebellion to God, for God to send him repentance, to confess his sins, see his need for a Savior. Since he is in his 80’s, he is very close to meeting the fate of the lost (Rev 20:12-15 I believe) and so pray for this man’s soul. He is in danger of eternal hell fire damnation and we wouldn’t want that for anyone. He is one heartbeat stopping moment away from it at his age. Make sense?

Thank you so kindly for your gracious words about the article.

Reply

Daniel July 18, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Thanks for the response Jack and I appreciate the wisdom and great insight. I was reading Proverbs today and seeing how truly the fool is quick to anger. I doon’t want to be that fool!
I realized that aside from that incident that I described above, a host of other unpleasantness seemed to be par for the course for the day and I realize if I had really allowed anger to get the best of me I would have done or said things I would have regretted. They say that when you say something in anger you’ll make the greatest speech that you’ll ever regret! So certainly today is a new revelation and turning point for me to checkpoint when situations come my way that can illicit anger.
Thanks again for your concern for my mentor and her husband. We’re praying for him and he is a believer, but unfortunately I don’t think he has his own anger issues under control. If anything, it inspires me to pray more for him and it’s also a good reminder that that is not how I want to act at his age. But I suppose we all fall short of course.
Again, thanks for taking the time to write me back and I love to read what you wrote. You have a gentle approach and a true anointing. Blessings!
Daniel

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