If there is any emotion that is locked and loaded with danger which once triggered can lead to the destruction of our soul (if not guarded and tempered by the truth of God), it is ANGER. Anger is one of the most destructive forces that can be unleashed among human beings, it is an emotion that is so powerful and yet pervasive in our culture. Anger is such a dangerous and volatile human emotion that many many many times when a person is in a state of anger, that anger becomes an occasion for sin; whereby, we lose control, lose our temper and are provoked to behave in ways that are destructive and harmful to ourselves and to other people. When we are angry, we can be prone to over react, become physically violent, become hateful, and become bitter. The power of anger can bring down nations, it creates wars, ruins families, friendships, and it destroys marriages.

We’ve all experienced the consequences and the effects of human anger. We have all been angry at times in our own lives, and we’ve had people who were angry at us. I don’t like to have people mad at me, I’m uncomfortable when people express their anger towards me; It’s an intimidating and embarrassing thing. But, can you imagine what it would be like to have the God of heaven and earth angry with you everyday? And yet, if we are to understand this whole concept of anger, here is where we are to start. Anger is real, and the ultimate source of it is God himself whose anger is always and everywhere just and justified. In the sermon titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards paints a vivid picture of God’s anger when he said the following:

“The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart and strains the bow; and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God—and that of an angry God without any promise or obligation at all—that keeps the arrow from being one moment made drunk with your blood… Thus are all you that never passed under a great change of heart by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls… For who knows the power of God’s anger? How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly of this great wrath and infinite misery? But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again” – Jonathan Edwards

The scripture is by no means silent on this matter of God’s anger. Psalm 7:11 tells us that God is angry with the wicked every day. But God is not just angry, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:18 that, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Please permit to state that which may be obvious; while anger in itself may manifest as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility; wrath on the other hand manifest itself as the extreme form of anger. The wrath of God is not a popular subject in most churches. However, understanding the wrath of God is critical to understanding the gospel. In the ultimate sense, hell is the wrath of God… Having written about the subject of hell in a previous blog, I will attempt to use the following borrowed quotes to summarize the reality of hell, and the gospel message of Christ Jesus–the only way to be saved from God’s wrath (hell):

“Jesus spoke more about hell than anybody else in the Bible and He defined it as conscious, eternal punishment. Hell is God’s hell where He punishes those who refuse to give Him honour and glory.” – John MacArthur.

“Hell is a place where not one ounce of the benefits of God’s grace penetrates… We don’t understand how sinful sin is. If we had any understanding to the reality of hell we would crawl on glass to the cross, to the only One who can bring you safely home for eternity.” – R.C Sproul.

“There are many roads to hell. There is only one road to Heaven — and it is through the Lord Jesus Christ. Throw yourself upon his mercy and believe in him and trust your soul to him” – Dr. Steven J Lawson.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his [Jesus] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” — Romans 5:9

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a very sobering reminder of the wrath that fell and the wrath to come. Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities once infamous for their practice of sexual perversions. Before the LORD God judged these two cities for their wickedness (Genesis 19:13), the LORD said to Abraham that the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah were so great and that their sin very grave (Gen 18:20). God Himself officiated the court hearing of these two cities (Gen 18:21), and carried out their sentencing in his perfect Justice (wrath) – The Bible tells us that the LORD rained down flaming sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24). This fits the description of the wrath of God painted in Psalm 97:3, “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.”

Because of incidents like this, many people hold to the view that the Old Testament portrays an angry, unloving, ungracious God. But that is a faulty view because God’s display of wrath is “just justice.” In other words, God’s wrath is an exercise of His perfect justice, and God’s justice is both thorough, fair and precise. If the LORD God should execute his justice on all of us, none would stand (Psalm 130:3). When faced before the throne of God, I will not ask for justice; but plead for mercy, for it is written – Mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13). I will plead with Habbakuk (3:2), In wrath, remember mercy. And with Daniel (9:16), O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your fury be turned away.

Anger in and of itself is not a sin, it is a natural emotion. But the reality is that it is often tainted with sin. The Bible said of Moses that he was the meekest man on the face of the whole earth (Numbers 12:3), and yet, Moses had his clay feet too; He was a man prone to a ferocious anger which led him to sin as we see atleast on three occasions in scripture:

  1. In spite of his favoured position in Pharoah’s palace, Moses’ heart was with God’s enslaved people. The Bible tells us (Exodus 2:11-12) that Moses killed an Egyptian (slave driver) in the heat of anger in his indignance at seeing a Egyptian man beating a Hebrew (one of his people).
  2. When Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets inscribed by the very finger of God, he saw the people of Israel worshipping idols. Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain (Exodus 32:19).
  3. In the wilderness, Moses cried out to the LORD to provide water for the people of Israel, and God said to Moses, speak to the rock and the rock will yield water. But Moses disobeyed God by angrily striking the rock instead of speaking to it. This displeased the LORD, and as a punishment God barred Moses from entering the Promise Land (Numbers 20).

There are times when it is appropriate and required that we be angry. In fact, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26 to BE ANGRY (and do not sin). There are things that go on in the world, school, government and church that ought to make us angry. When the truth of God is maligned and distorted, we should be angry about that. Throughout the gospel, it is very clear that Jesus was angry at times, particularly when the worship of God was being corrupted. Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and took whips to clean out the temple when his father’s house was defiled. On another occasion, Jesus manifested His anger by calling out the Pharisees who were ready to judge the man with the shrivelled hand for being healed on the Sabbath.

Unlike Jesus, our anger is often unrighteous, but I don’t think that hiding or bottling up anger is any helpful. Anger ought to be dealt with swiftly before it leads one astray to other problem whereby friendships, relationships and one’s own health suffers. Anger becomes sinful when allowed to fester and simmer. When I find myself angry, I’m learning to make it a habit to take it to the Lord in prayer. I find myself pleading with the Lord to help me with the pain underneath my anger and help me to forgive anyone I’m angry towards especially before the end of that day (so as not to let the sun go down on my anger). I think there is much truth in the saying that when emotions go up, logic goes down. I think it is wise NOT to make certain decisions when angry, depressed, extremely happy, etc… When overwhelmed by emotions, we often don’t think clearly because our emotions hijack our brain. As a result, our emotions can become the driving force for many of our behaviours.

Being able to feel emotions, without passively, aggressively, obsessively reacting to them is a skill I’m still learning. But, I’m not here advocating that we master how to control our emotions. As for me, I’ve come to realise that it is only by the grace of God I’m able to temper any surge of emotions I feel with moderation and react appropriate in any given situation. Without God’s restraining Hand upon my life, I have no self-control. Many a time, I’m reminded of the saying, “there but for the grace of God go I.” Consciously learning to be utterly dependent upon God’s grace helps me to exercise self-control in all things.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. {Proverbs 14:29 & 16:32 respectively}