Controlling Anger

“And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws” (Ezekiel 36:27 NIV).

It is a problem to get humans to do what God wants without outright forcing us. Imagine God creating humans with the divine capacity to choose righteousness or refuse it. He didn’t have to create us that way, but He preferred to do so. God makes no mistakes. Whenever anything goes wrong, like us choosing not to do what He wants, He already knew that would happen. If God’s happiness is having us do what He wants without being forced — then, we want to make God happy. It appears that God’s Spirit living and dwelling in us is the secret to moving us not merely to want but actually to do what God wants (see Ezekiel 36:27).

Our problem is we have already chosen not to do what He wants. That is sin. And, the very Spirit, who can keep us from sinning, cannot dwell in us without us first repenting of that sin. And, that is exactly what Peter told his hearers at Pentecost. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NIV).

You may say that you have believed and repented, but not have been baptized. Can God give you the benefit of the Spirit’s influence in making you to do what He wants? Absolutely, He can! He will accept you for what you can do now, knowing you will do it (be baptized) later, when it becomes possible. “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2Corinthians 8:12 NIV).

When disciples sin, they must also repent. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9 NIV). But, the question remains, what is God’s secret to making us willing to do what He wants? Answer: His Spirit dwelling in us moves us to do what He wants (Ezekiel 36:27, Acts 2:38). More specifically, God’s Spirit uses His promises to make us more like Him. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2Peter 1:3-4 NIV). Promises encourage us to trust and hope in God.

What are God’s promises to us about anger?

FIRST, any command from God comes with the promised ability to keep the command, because His commands are not impossible. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome [Greek, barus, grievous]” (1John 5:3 NIV).

SECOND, anger without a good cause is subject to God’s judgment. So, God has promised to keep us from becoming angry without good cause. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry [KJV: ‘without a cause’] with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, Raca, is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21-22 NIV).

THIRD, do not sin in your anger. In other words, God has promised us to know when it’s proper to be angry and to keep us from sinning by becoming inappropriately angry. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26 NIV).

FOURTH, the emotion of inappropriate anger is lack of self-control. So, God has promised us the self-control to prevent and control inappropriate anger.
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28 NIV). “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NIV).

FIFTH, friendship with hot-tempered, easily angered people is a snare. So, God promises to help us prevent friendships and associations with hot-tempered and angry people. “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV).

SIXTH, because God is angry with the wicked, it is righteous for us to be angry with sin. So, we are promised not to be embarrassed or frustrated, when we are angry with sin. And, our thoughtful reaction should be how to most wisely deal with it. “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11 KJV).

SEVENTH, our conduct towards each other represents our true attitude towards God. Love will stop inappropriate anger. So, God promises love in our hearts toward our neighbors, because He wants the same love directed towards Himself. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1John 4:7-11 NIV).

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25 NIV).