Sinful and Righteous Anger
A Sermon on Ephesians 4:20-27
20But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is …
20But ye have not so learned Christ; 21If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 …
Many Christians throughout the centuries have offered varying interpretations of the verse “be angry and sin not.” In this sermon on anger from Ephesians 4:20–27 titled “Sinful and Righteous Anger,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses how Christians should apply this command 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 where anger is acceptable as long as the Christian does not sin in their anger and give a foothold to Satan. Anger, he says, is a natural capacity given 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 anger must be directed towards the things that God hates but ultimately, Paul is calling Christians to avoid sin and to be angry towards it. Dr. Lloyd-Jones declares that anger against 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.
- Anger in and of itself is not sinful. It is an innate capacity given to us by God.
- We should be angry against sin and evil. Failure to do so shows moral degradation.
- We must never be bad tempered, irritable or easily provoked. That is sinful anger.
- Excessive, violent, uncontrollable anger is sinful. We must maintain control.
- "Wrath" refers to anger that has become habitual and bitter. We must avoid wrath.
- Lack of self-control indicates living according to the "old man". We must put on the "new man".
- Loss of control gives the devil opportunity. We must not give the devil a foothold.
- Vindictiveness denies the gospel of grace and forgiveness. We must forgive as God forgave us.
- We must deal with anger immediately. Do not go to sleep with anger in your heart.
- We must hate sin but never hate the sinner. Forgive the sinner.
The Book of Ephesians
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.