Preacher: Pastor Ray
Text: Eph 4:17-32
Summary: Put away anger in all its forms and put on kindness, tenderheartedness and a forgiving spirit.
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Father, thank you for being a Father who disciplines your children. Every time it happens, it is painful for a while, but Lord, it is for our eternal good. So thank you, Lord, for this word. I pray that you would minister to your people, that you would give us understanding, that you would renew the spirit of our minds regarding this important topic. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
A couple of things that the Lord has been disciplining me about. Today is one of them. The one line summary for today is to put away anger in all its forms and put on kindness, tender heartedness and a forgiving spirit. I say, “put away” because of v22. It says to put off or to put away or to lay aside or to renounce. Then from v24, it says to “put on” or to clothe oneself.
And so there’s an active putting off of something that’s bad and putting on something that is good. And I say put off anger in all its forms because these verses are packed with words that depict anger in all its forms.
And the question is, how do you put off anger and all its forms? And how do you put on what God desires, namely kindness, tenderheartedness and a forgiving spirit. The answer is in v23. Let me read from v17.
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So how do we make the transition from putting putting off or putting away or renouncing anger and all its forms and then putting on kindness, tenderheartedness, and a forgiving spirit? The key is the connecting verse, v23.
Our minds, more specifically, the spirit of our minds, have to be renewed. Did you know that your mind has a spirit behind it? Your mindset has a spirit behind it. It is either renewed and there’s the Holy Spirit that is informing how your mind should think and how you should live, or your mind is not yet renewed and is still fallen.
Another way to say put off or put away and to put on is to repent. We need to repent of all our anger in its many forms and that involves the renewing of our minds. Did you know that the word repentance means a change of the mind? Our mind has to be renewed. Our mindset has to be renewed. There’s a spirit behind our mind that has to be renewed. That is repentance.
It’s different from Judas feeling regret. He felt remorse. He felt bad, but his mind didn’t change and he committed suicide. He did not go to Jesus in repentance. And it says, the renewing of the spirit of our minds. Our mind needs to be renewed in order to repent properly.
I used to think sanctification is a gradual uphill climb. I’ve come to believe, and I think this is true, that sanctification happens in huge leaps. Like you’re just moving along a plateau, and then, suddenly, God reveals a word to you. And if your mind changes, you level up. That’s what it means to be renewed. It’s like a video game. You’re on level one, you’re plugging along, you having a good time. You think you’ve mastered the level. And then when you reach the end, you level up and you’re on level two.
I think sanctification is like that. We’re just kind of going along. Then, God gives you a word and your mindset in some area changes overnight. The spirit behind your mind has been renewed. You saw something. God reveals something through His word to you. It’s a word that you didn’t understand prior.
And then, from that day forth, you’re renewed. You’ve leveled up. That’s how sanctification works. Sanctification is a series of breakthroughs rather than a gradual climb. And this area of anger is one we don’t talk about often. Like some sins are clearly wrong and so we talk about them. Like adultery is wrong. And so, in terms of our minds, we know what is true. We will not commit adultery. You will not commit fornication. Why? Because we have a clear mindset about something that’s black and white.
But regarding something like anger, it’s one of those things that just kind of slides under the radar. And you can be angry for your whole life and not realize that it’s an issue. And anger can enter into your marriage and it enters into your home, into your parenting, and you don’t realize that damage is being done.
26 Be angry and do not sin…
So God leaves room that you could be angry and it not be sinful anger. For example, in the clear case of God’s anger, He is not sinning. It is always righteous anger or righteous indignation. He doesn’t hate the person. He does not hate the person. He’s hateful toward the sin, and He’s trying to set that person free. And if that person is judged, God does not delight in judging that person or sending that person to hell. God takes no enjoyment in judging a person eternally.
So there is such a thing as a godly, righteous anger or indignation towards sin, never the person. This verse leave room that in the moment when when somebody says something to you, or does something to you, it may bother you. It is irritating. It does provoke you. And we’re not denying that something sinful happened. And so your immediate reaction can be anger toward that person. But then it says, make sure you stop it there. Make sure you nip it in the bud because if it continues, you will sin against that person who has said or did something to you.
And I want to say that most anger is unrighteous anger. There are rare cases when it is righteous indignation, but most of human anger is unrighteous. James, 1 20 tells us that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
26 …do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Not only do we have to nip anger in the bud when we feel irritation, when we are provoked, you also cannot let that anger linger. If a couple is fighting, you are not allowed to go to sleep angry because that lingering anger produces a vulnerability. And we read about that in v27.
27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
Satanic attack comes through the door of anger. And if you let anger linger in your marriage, in your home, it’s like you’re opening the door wide open and inviting Satan to come in. Anger is one of those things you might say, well, I’m not an angry person. I’m generally easy going. What if someone said, 99% of the time, I’m sober. I only get drunk 1% of the time. We’d say that person is an alcoholic. Someone says, I’m pure. I only look at certain sites 1% of the time. It’s not a problem. No, we’d say that person is an addict.
And the same goes for anger. You might say, 99% of the time, or maybe 90% of the time, you’re not angry. Maybe once a week, maybe once every two weeks, maybe once a month, you blow up. We would have to conclude, if that happens even 1% of the time, we would have to say that the person has a problem with anger. You might not have labeled yourself as an angry person, but like in the other examples, we would have to conclude, this person struggles with anger.
Did you know what Jesus says about anger in Matthew 5?
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
And here Jesus makes an astounding heavenly calculation. He says, murder equals anger. And would you invite a murderer into your home? No, you wouldn’t tolerate a murderous person, a serial killer. You would not tolerate that. It’s so clear in my mind and all of our minds, we would not tolerate it. And yet we tolerate anger.
Jesus says, they are the same thing. Why do you tolerate murderous anger in your home, in your marriage and in your parenting? It’s the same thing Jesus says as murder. Not only is anger the door to satanic attack, from Ephesians 4:30, we learn that anger grieves the Holy Spirit.
And I remember leading up to Jimmy and Jeralyn’s wedding, I was praying for the filling of the Spirit. Then the Lord directed me to read the chapter before. And then it just dawned on me how hypocritical it was for me to ask for the filling of the Spirit while at the same time grieving the Holy Spirit that I already had with me because of my anger.
That’s hypocritical to say, Fill me with the Spirit while I have not put away anger in all its forms, which grieves the same Holy Spirit.
And now let’s look at all the forms of anger because you might not be convinced that you’re an angry person yet, but I want to show you the verses.
Verse 31. Let all bitterness. Bitterness can also be translated as harshness. If your tone is harsh, you are an angry person. If you’re harsh toward your spouse, you are an angry person. If you’re harsh toward your kids, you’re an angry person.
And there are countless justifications — well, you don’t know what my spouse did. You don’t know how annoying my kids are or how sinful they are. There are 1,000,000 excuses we can make for why we tolerate harshness in ourselves. But this is a form of anger — harshness — that needs to be put away. Someone whose tone is uncomfortable to be around, that is a form of anger.
Second, we have another form of anger — wrath, or it could be rage. And this is may be more obvious than a harsh tone. This is an outburst of anger. This is somebody with a temper, somebody who can go from 0 to 100 in 2 seconds. Somebody says something or does something and you go to 100 in two seconds. That is rage. This also is a form of anger. And, you know the word in the Greek is so descriptive. It also describes the nuance meanings for wrath or rage. It describes how the body reacts, that you feel a rising in the chest area. You breathe violently. Even your body tells you when you’re angry.
And third, it says anger. And this is different from rage. This kind of an anger is not an outburst. This one is more like a gradual swell. It’s more of a settled anger toward a person. It’s an internal disposition that you are steadfastly opposing somebody. You’ve made up your mind about somebody through extended exposure to this person, and you’re angry. Another way you could say it is that you have something against this person. You are unforgiving toward this person. This is the anger that is described here.
Next we have clamor, and this is someone who yells with great emotion. It’s a yeller, someone with many outbursts.
And then slander. This is abusive language. This is name calling. You’re so blank.
Lastly, malice. This is just evil wickedness.
So look at that list. Bitterness or harshness. Rage. Anger, or a disposition of a settled anger, or a swell of anger toward a person. A clamoring, a yelling with emotion. A slandering, or abusive language, or a railing at somebody. Lastly, malice, or evil wickedness.
That list — who does it resemble? Satan. He is bitter. Satan is raging. Satan has a disposition of anger, a settled and calculated anger against God and all of the offspring of God. He is always clamoring. He’s always yelling with great emotion. He’s always slandering. That is what the devil is known as the accuser of the brethren. And he has malice, or evil wickedness in his heart.
So anger is a big deal. Anger in all its forms is a big deal, and it says we must put away this anger, and this is a challenge to do with the people closest to you because you see everything about them. You see their flaws, their immaturity. And there are legitimate sins that they commit against you.
You may think you’re not an angry person. Marriage will teach you that there is some anger that needs to be dealt with. Marriage will teach you, especially in the early years, before husband and wife are sanctified, there will many times when you will see anger rear its ugly head. And so just be forgiving toward one another in those early years.
If you get through marriage and you say, well, I’m not an angry person, wait until you have some children. And by that point, I think all of us will conclude there is anger that needs to be dealt with.
And I’m not saying as parents that we always looked the other way when our kids sin. We have to discipline and this is something I’m still figure out — how do you discipline without being angry? They’re sinful patterns you have to deal with. God says, you have to discipline your children. God disciplines us. And he says, it’s unpleasant. So in our parenting, there are many unpleasant moments. When God disciplines us, He does not do it with anger.
And so when we discipline our kids, we have to remember, we cannot discipline with anger. That takes a lot of self control. That takes a lot of pauses before speaking.
Parents will often yell at their kids and be angry toward the kids. And I grew up in that kind of home with a lot of yelling and harsh discipline. And I said, I’ll never be like that. Guess what? The door was opened and Satan came in and he damaged certain areas. And so even though I vowed, I’ll never be like that, there’s so much of my parents in my own parenting. It’s an area of healing and sanctification.
I did not know it until this past week. I did not know it that it is an issue that needs to be dealt with because overall, 90% of the time, I’m good. So when God showed me His word in Ephesians 4, the spirit of my mind suddenly became renewed in this area. And I became convinced this sin has to be put away. It cannot be tolerated. It should not be allowed in the home.
And so we just had a reset in our family. We will not deliberately be angry toward one another. We were sinning by being angry toward one another. We just made it a rule — anger will not be tolerated in our home. And of course we will break the rule. But immediately, because now we’re convinced this anger should not be here. In the same way that a murderer should not be tolerated in our home, anger should not be here.
And so because I’m convinced that anger has to be put away, as soon as we see it, as soon as I see it on myself, immediately, we should say sorry. And ultimately, we say sorry to God. First and foremost, sin is always before Him. And then, we say sorry to the person we’ve offended or hurt. It begins with a renewal of the mind. Repentance is a change of the mind.
And so if you’ve been struggling with anger, with harshness, with moodiness, with clamoring with rage, with a temper, with loss of self control in this area, with a tongue that is loose, or you say things that are insulting, or that puts down other people, your mind has to be renewed in this area. And you have to be convinced by God Himself that this is a sin we must all put away. You may say, yes, I know sexual purity is important. But if you have not put away impurity, that means your mind has not been renewed and you have not really repented. That doesn’t mean we’re never going to stumble because out there, you see things and you stumble. You didn’t go looking for it. You didn’t willfully choose to stumble. Like a web browser, if you type and visit certain sites, that is on you. You chose to sin. But when you stumble out there, you didn’t willfully sin.
There is a difference. Your mind is convinced — I’ve put this sexual impurity away. The same with anger. It may still flare up. You may still say an unkind word. You didn’t mean to do it. And now that your mindset is renewed, you recognize this sin has to be put away. And you say sorry to God. And if necessary, you say sorry to the other person.
And so we put away anger in all its forms. That includes a harsh tone, the outbursts, that disposition of I’m against this person, that unforgiveness. The Clamor, slander, malice. There are six forms of anger listed in Eph 4.
It’s so serious that Jesus says, if you’re going to the altar with your gift and there’s someone that you’re angry toward, drop your gift and reconcile with that person. It’s that serious. Jesus cares far more that you have a heart that is not angry toward a fellow brother or sister than He cares about the offering, the tithe. And so we put away anger in all its forms. And I pray that you’re convinced. And I pray that your mindset has been renewed in this area. And that if it is renewed and you have a new spirit behind your mind regarding this area of anger, then now, the choice is ours.
We must put away the anger. Because at this point, it is now just plain disobedience. Because if you’re convinced this is what God wants, that this is what He says in His Word, and your mind has been renewed in this area, now it’s up to you and me. Are we gonna put away anger in all its forms?
Well, we don’t just put it away. We put on something else. We put on tenderheartedness. This is a heart that is merciful. This is a heart that is compassionate. We put on kindness. Another way to say kind is you’re gentle You’re pleasant. It’s easy to be around you. You’re not moody. You’re not harsh.
You don’t give excuses. I didn’t sleep well yesterday, that’s why I am in a bad mood. I got this deadline at work, that’s why I’m edgy. No, there are no excuses for the Christian. We put away all the excuses. Once were convinced that anger in all its forms must be put away, we repent of our anger, we put it away. And we put on kindness. I should be a pleasant person. I should be tenderhearted, merciful, compassionate.
And also we must be forgiving. And so look around. If if there’s anger, probably there’s unforgiveness and there are probably people you need to forgive from your heart. And you may even have to go to that person and reconcile. God says in the last verse, Ephesians 4:32.
32 …forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
So if you want God to forgive you in Christ, you must forgive others. To the extent that you do not forgive, God withholds His forgiveness. That’s how I read it. We cannot ask God to be so merciful to us and forgive us of all of our sins while we harbor unforgiveness and we lack mercy toward other people. God is just. He will treat you the way you treat other people.
And so, if you are compassionate, guess what? God will be compassionate with you. If you’re merciful, God will be merciful to you. Conversely, if you’re harsh, watch out. God might be harsh. If you’re unforgiving, watch out. God might be unforgiving. If you harbor grudges and you can’t let things go, God will not wipe away your slate. He will keep a record of your wrongs because you keep a record of other people’s wrongs.
God is fair. So if you want God to be merciful to you, kind to you, pleasant towards you, tender hearted toward you, if you want God to forgive you of all of your sins, then God says, treat your neighbor like this. Do it to your brother or sister. Forgive them. Be merciful, be compassionate. Do it to your spouse. Do it to your children.
Let’s pray. Ask God to search your heart. Are you an angry person? If you’re angry, even once, even 1% of time, we’d have to conclude, Yes, there is anger. And anger has many forms. It can be harsh and not so overt. It can be loud and very visible. But anger takes on many forms.
And even Christians can resembles the father of lies, the accuser of the brothers, due to their anger. If you’re not convinced, ask God to renew your mind through the Holy Spirit. The spirit behind your mind can be renewed regarding this area so that you would not allow anger to reside in your life, in your marriage, in your home, as your parent, that there will be no open doors for Satan to come in and to damage us and those we love.
Close the door of anger once and for all and say, I will not be this way. I’m not going to be edgy. I’m not gonna be provoked to anger. I’m not gonna to be irritable. There is no more room for moodiness. I want to put these behind me. This is my former way of life.
Instead, I will put on kindness and tenderheartedness and a forgiving spirit.
Father, thank you for disciplining Your children. It’s a painful realization to recognize our anger. We didn’t even know this was an issue. We didn’t even know this was a sin that grieves the Holy Spirit. We didn’t know why you’re not answering the prayer of fill me with the Holy Spirit while we tolerated anger in our hearts.
Thank you for revealing this problem to us so gently, Lord. Now for all of us whose minds have been renewed, whose minds have been leveled up, and we’ve begun the sanctification process in this area, we repent. And we have received a change of mindset regarding anger.
Help us to put away our anger. Help us to repent of all the ways we’ve been angry toward our spouses, toward our friends, toward our bosses, toward our parents, toward our children, toward all the people who are closest to us.
Forgive us, Lord. We will not do it again. We choose not to be angry again. We’re putting it away. We ask that You clean up our speech. We ask that You clean up our emotions. We ask that You clean up the way we interact with those closest to us.
I pray that you would renew the spirit of our minds and sanctify us in all the ways that we let Satan damage us and break apart our relationships. Redeem everything back to the way it should be — totally unified in the bond of peace, covered by the blood of Jesus.
We pray that we will put on Your character, Your righteous character of kindness, tenderheartedness and a forgiving spirit. Thank you.
Help us to be wise as parents as we discipline children regarding their sinful patterns. May we not be irritated, or angry, as we discipline them. Give us wisdom how to do it without anger. Teach us. We need Your help, Lord. Thank you.
Minister to us as we as we come to Your Table. I pray that You nourish us. I pray that You cleanse us from head to toe. I pray that You would cleanse our bodies, our spirits, our mind, will, emotions as we come to the Table and receive Your Body broken for us and Your Blood shed. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen