Would you say you have a temper?
The Word of God has much to offer in terms of understanding temper, anger, (or as termed in this study) Wrath. And what’s more important – the Bible offers a clear path to directly engage our temper and overcome it. You could say it’s the ultimate in anger management.
Four Truths about Wrath
Though there are bundles of sermon notes to be generated on the subject of wrath; permit me the following four observations: two each on the wrath of God and the wrath of Man.
The Wrath of God
The first insight here is that the wrath of God is provoked by apostasy. Apostasy is the defection – abandonment, or renunciation of the Jesus Path. It is most evidenced by leaving the companionship of the Most High God for the illusions and deceit of worldly values and indulgences.
- But they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy – 2 Chronicles 36:16
God’s wrath comes when you and I “mock His messengers.” And how is that seen? When we ignore the people who speak to us Truth from the Word. God’s wrath comes when we “Despise His Words.” How is that seen? When we so our contempt for the teaching, by not living out what we learn from the Bible. God’s wrath comes when we “scoff His Prophets.” How is that seen? When we know the Word by live and act as if “this doesn’t apply to me.” Notice too, this important truth: God’s Wrath doesn’t like a blast immediately out of left field… but it asises, it climbs. In this, He gives us our chances to get right; to turn away from our apostasy. His “slow boil” offers us an opportunity to revive and turn around decline. But make no mistake:
- The man who stiffens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy – Proverbs 29:1
Isaiah has further instruction about how apostasy provokes God:
- According to their deeds, so He will repay, wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies… – Isaiah 59:18
- Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God – James 4:4
You and I must forsake the world’s way with it’s self-centered, narcissistic, self-serving motivations. Check out the words of Moses:
- They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them – Deuteronomy 29:26
At Restart we know these small “g” gods are the evil elohiym. Note Moses does not say these other gods don’t exist. They do. And when we embrace and endorse the value system of the world – seeking our own aims and pleasures – we are playing in their sandbox. Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. The gods of our indulgences are alive and well, but God’s wrath is tweaked by apostasy – when we served and worship other than The Most High. And, incidentally, what is the is the reward of serving the evil elohiym?
- The Lord uprooted them from their land in ANGER and in FURY and in GREAT WRATH, and cast them into another land, as it is this day – Deuteronomy 29:28
You need to understand, this applies to the New Testament Church equally as it did to the children of Israel. Paul writes to the Romans:
- For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either – Romans 11:21
Many folk are quick to dump the Old Testament. How foolish that is. Here at Restart we recognize every Word of the Word is illuminating and instructive. Let’s not be beguiled by the lie that we can live a double life without consequence.
God’s Wrath Serves to Instruct
Our second insight about God’s wrath is that it is there to instruct us. To be aware of it is to learn to fear it. Look at the words of Brother Job:
- Then be afraid of the sword for yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, so that you may know there is judgment – Job 19:29
BE AFRAID So that you may KNOW there is judgement – Know that God does not like when we live the double life. James writes:
- Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin – James 4:17
Don’t fool around – learn here and now – we should be afraid of walking away from the Lord – of provoking Him to wrath. There is so much more to dig into on the topic of God’s wrath. – but we start with two truths:
- Provoked by Apostasy
- Serves to instruct
Now how about wrath in you and me?
The Wrath of Men
The first insight here is that human wrath can be justified
- Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger – Ephesians 4:26
We can be angry when State of New York passes laws legalizing post-birth abortions – or when there are no places in our community for the prostitutes and homeless to rest and be ministered to – when our children must raise themselves – when selfishness is epidemic – and when service to others is almost unknown. Did Jesus ever get angry?
- And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables – John 2:15
Yes, He did. But I must stop right here and say something. Human wrath can be a trap. I have seen it leading to berating others, to looking down our noses as people, to thinking we know more than the next guy. I have seen men curse others, using the Bible as justification; saying people were going to hell because they wore yoga-pants. It can get bad when you and I begin to get angry at others, justifying ourselves on some “higher spirituality”. That is the fruit of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. I don’t care to judge people; but seek to redeem them. Why judge and not try to restore? Our earlier verse from Ephesians warns: “Be angry YET DO NOT SIN.” This is why the bedrock verse at Restart is “For I meant to know among you only Christ and Him crucified.” All the rest is just “stuff”
Man’s Wrath can be Overcome
Our second insight is really the core of my message today – and so will be handled more thoroughly in a moment – but permit one verse to “prime the pump” on this question of overcoming our temper; and not living stuck in it.
- Cease from Anger and forsake Wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing – Psalm 37:8
If He says cease – that is clear message that there is a way to stop. Okay, but before we see the steps we must take to corral and overcome our tempers – let’s take a moment to self assess. Restart is all about Biblical self-assessment. We need an objective look at whether you and I are offending God with the sin of ungodly wrath. What are the fruits of wrath, the evidences of it – so that we can recognize the truth about ourselves and wrath.
- I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies – Psalm 119:57
The Fruit of the Hot-Tempered Person
Friend Solomon offers in his Proverbs some direct examples of what you and I do when under the influence of the sin of wrath, temper and anger:
- Acts Foolishly – 14:17
- Exalts Folly – 14:29
- Stirs up strife – 15:18
- Abounds in Transgression – 29:22
- Has a backbiting tongue 25:23
Add to this and important insight from Job:
- Beware that wrath does not entice you to scoffing – Job 36:18
The wrathful person is given to scoffing which is to make light of honorable things. Scoffing carries a meaning of being scornful, which is a sour attitude towards others. Scoffing also holds a note of being derisive, which speaks of a habit of snide remarks and an over-abundance of sarcastic comments. Finally too, scoffing holds the idea of mocking – which is the practice of calling honorable things false.
Assess yourself against these truths of the Bible. Do you see yourself? Are you a person hounded and trapped by anger, malice and wrath? Thankfully the Bible offers us the way to overcome wrath, and that is to study the Word of God to learn more about the Godly virtue which stands opposite wrath. Because as we study and memorize passages about this opposing virtue, then all wrath, anger, slander and malice will all fall before the powerful, unmatched Word of God.
The virtue that stands in opposition to wrath, that if faithfully learned and practiced will heal and overcome our temper, anger and wrathful disposition is the virtue of forgiveness. Of the vast amount of Biblical guidance on the virtue of forgiveness, permit me to offer three insights which foster, empower, and set loose the amazing effects of forgiveness. The three insights are:
- Forgive Yourself
- Live the cost of your forgiveness
- Forgive as you have been forgiven
Now when I say, “Forgive Yourself” I do NOT mean get out of jail free… that I can do as I please, forgive myself and carry on. What I mean is to believe that God has redeemed those who repent and turn from evil – that God has acted to forgive you; and you need to accept and live that truth and doing so, forgive yourself. God’s provision for the sin of mankind is the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross. Forgiving yourself is to believe:
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9
All unrighteousness is washed away by the blood of Christ. If you have repented of your past sins and mistakes (and by the way…… we all have them) and you are walking the Jesus Path (“IN Christ Jesus), you are no longer condemned
- Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – Romans 8:1
The reason then it is so important to believe these passages and forgive yourself is because not to do so means to living in guilt. And what is guilt? – Guilt is anger against who? – Against yourself! Because if you don’t forgive yourself – if you live day to day in the guilt of your previous sins – though you’ve confessed them – you will at some point become a different person. Guilt is restless and it will change how you behave toward others, how you view yourself and your relationship with GOD. Look carefully at what Job tells us:
- For your guilt teaches your mouth, and you choose the language of the crafty – Job 15:5
Guilt teaches your mouth – it will change the way you communicate with others, with God and even yourself. Guilt will make you crafty – helping you to rationalize poor choices, to justify and protect your selfishness – your temper, your double life. Guilt helps you convince yourself that others are at fault – that you have a right to be angry. Do you want to have victory over being a hot-head? Then you must learn to Forgive Yourself. Believe that Christ’s blood is sufficient – to wipe out guilt. ANGRY PEOPLE CARRY GUILT.
Live the Cost of Your Forgiveness
This key component to empowering forgiveness against wrath reminds us to remember.
- Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body – 2 Corinthians 4:10
To carry with you (not just something to think about on Sunday) but to carry with you the spiritual truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ – but why? So that the life of Jesus may evidence itself in our daily living. The life of Jesus was not subject to selfish wrath; and ego-based temper. When you carry with you the cost of your own forgiveness, you become empowered to more readily to forgive others and not be angry with them. To live the cost of your forgiveness means to value His death, to have a lingering and intentional idea of the price Jesus paid for your forgiveness. Being attentive to what He gave up to save you will help trivialize (yes TRIVIALIZE) the wounds others have done to us – the wounds that make us angry, that makes our blood boil. Let me offer some fuel to this thought with this verse about what Christ gave up to come to earth to die.
- Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man… He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross – Philippians 2:5-8
Notice the role of Obedience here – to who – to the Father! Think a moment with me about the humility it took to come from perfect to crucifiction. And why? HE DID IT FOR YOU. This is the price of your salvation. If you are to understand and practice Forgiveness with others, if you are to overcome your temper and peevishness, then you must daily – moment by moment – reckon the cost of what it took to hang Christ on that cross. Is there ANYTHING that ANYONE could have done to you so that Jesus DESERVED to die for it? Did you catch that? Wrath is unforgiveness. Wrath is having something against someone so bad that Christ DESERVED to suffer and die because of that thing you are angry about. If you are to have victory over wrath, temper and anger – you must live the cost of what it took to forgive you. You need to Forgive Yourself – you need to live the cost of your forgiveness.
Forgive as You Has Been Forgiven
- Forgive us our tresspasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us – Matthew 6:12
- Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32
Tender heart is not found in the angry person. The person with the short wick has no patience with others, they are too wrapped up in themself, too self-absorbed, too immature; too conceited to stop and consider someone else.
- Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward – Jeremiah 7:24
In THEIR OWN counsels. The unforgiving person doesn’t think about anyone else but themself. They don’t obey, much less incline to listen – they don’t want to learn, they want to be pout and enjoy self-pitty – and give vent to anger. Do you wish to have victory over your temper, your anger, your wrath, you need to forgive as you have been forgiven. It’s time to get over it. People are going to to let you down, cut you off in traffic. Get over yourself. Like Christ, you need to live in obedience and humble yourself and be reconciled to those you are estranged from.
- Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
The standard for reconciliation is how God reconciled us to Himself. The command is for us to minister to each other through reconciliation. So if God does not counting their tresspasses against us. So why do you?
We have come a long way here. My prayer is that you will undertake to accept the work of including these three aspects of forgiveness in order to confront and overcome the sin of wrath, anger and temper in your life. May the Lord Bless You as You Go.
- Forgive Yourself
- Live the cost of your forgiveness
- Forgive as you have been forgiven