Sinful and Righteous Anger
A Sermon on Ephesians 4:20-27
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (ESV)
“Be angry and sin not.” Have you ever read Ephesians 4:20-27 and been confused about what it means? Many Christians throughout the centuries have offered varying interpretations of it. In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides his take on this verse and how Christians should apply it to their lives. He contends that Paul is not saying that one can be angry as long as they don’t sin— it is not a permissive statement. Rather, Paul is saying that there are certain things it is acceptable to be angry about as long as we do not sin in our anger and do not give a foothold to Satan. Anger, he says, is a natural capacity given to us by God against the things that dishonor him and what he declares to be good. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, even Jesus is recorded in the Gospels as becoming very angry about unrighteousness in the temple. The key to understanding this verse is that our anger must be directed towards the things that God hates— ultimately, Paul is calling us to avoid sin and to be angry towards it. Dr. Lloyd-Jones declares that the category of sin is being increasingly explained away by the world, but Christians must be faithful to hold it for what it is— an affront against God.