"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." James 1:20
On April 20, 1999 , two young men, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went into their school in Littleton , Colorado , loaded with weapons and opened fire. When they were done, fifteen people including themselves were dead and twenty-four others were wounded. I have tried to pay attention to all of the psychoanalysis that has gone on since then about why these boys went berserk. Much is contradictory but the one common thread that seems to be agreed to by all is that these were angry boys.
Why are men so angry today? Why are boys so angry? Why are some violent and others wish they could be violent? Why the feeding frenzy in society on violent sports, video games, music, movies, etc.? Why do I see men in Church who seem like wonderful husbands and fathers in public but go ballistic at home? Why such short tempers? Why these temper tantrums? Why won't they grow up? Why? Why? Why?
I finally decided to study it out. I found the Bible has the answer. The Lord asked Jonah twice, "Doest thou well to be angry...?" Jonah 4:4,9. Jonah thought it was okay. God did not.
Solomon said, "... anger resteth in the bosom of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9. Jesus said, "... whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment..." Matthew 5:22. Paul instructed us, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:" Ephesians 4:31.
Where does anger come from and how can we get rid of it? "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." James 1:20 .
I. Lack of Spirituality.
One of the reasons there is so much anger in men is a general lack of spirituality.
The fruit of the Spirit is peace, not anger (Galatians 5:22 -23). Most men are interested in self today, not in God. Churches everywhere are filled with more ladies than men. The Princeton Religion Research Center (January, 1999) reported that only 50% of the men of this country are affiliated with a church or attend once a month. Only 28% of the men of this country attend weekly. "There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked." (Isaiah 48:22). If men would be spiritually minded they would have more peace and less anger. "... to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6). As the Holy Ghost fills the man who strives to crucify and empty himself of self, the fruit of the Spirit begins to manifest Himself in that man. This fills the man with such divine traits as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Almost all of these are the opposite of anger! Make no mistake, our need is a spiritual one first that God can fill.
It is in His plan for our lives that we be "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4) and God is "slow to anger" (Psalm 103:8).
Why not get alone with God Almighty right now and pray. Ask Him to help you die to self. He can teach us how. Ask Him to fill you with His fullness (Ephesians 3:19 ) . Ask for a filling of the Holy Spirit, a definite endowment of power from on high that will be life transforming. He will answer our prayers in His will.
Suggested prayer from the heart: "Dear Heavenly Father, help me to become a spiritual man. Holy Spirit, I am sorry for grieving you and ignoring you. I need your help. Please fill me with yourself and your power. Give me the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is the opposite of anger. Do not give up on me, LORD till you change me completely. In Jesus name, Amen."
II. Lack of Scripture Memorization.
I believe men are angry today because of a lack of Scripture memorization. Biblical illiteracy! A lack of Bible knowledge.
Take this test: Can you list three verses of Scripture from memory that says anger is wrong? Did you pass or fail?
When Jesus (our supreme example in everything) was tempted, He met each temptation by quoting Scripture word perfect. As He resisted the devil and used the Word, the devil left Him for a season, (Matthew 4:1-11) . Jesus was victorious!
As part of the Armor of God we are instructed to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." If you cannot "take" the Word of God with you everywhere, you don't have a sword! You have nothing to fight with ( Ephesians 6:17 ) . We do not "take" the word with us by carrying a New Testament in our pocket; it must be written "in fleshly tables of the heart." ( II Corinthians 3:3) . These are written on our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
If you have a problem with anger, memorize as many Scriptures about anger that you mentally can with God's help. First, it will establish in your heart that anger is wrong, not because the preacher said it, but because God said it. Second, it will give the Holy Spirit something to prompt you with as soon as you are about to go off. You can resist the devil like Jesus did by saying, "Get behind me Satan, for it is written" (then quote the verses you know.) The Devil hates to be resisted. Stick him with the Word of God-the Sword of the Spirit.
If you fall, get up. As you resist and struggle against Satan you will find yourself getting stronger and stronger. Victory is coming, but you must know the Word. Now here are a few verses against anger that I suggest you try to memorize. Say these verses over and over until you can say them as well as the alphabet:
Ephesians 4:31, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:"
Proverbs 22:24-25, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
James 1:20, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
Proverbs 29:22, "An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression."
Ephesians 6:4, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Colossians 3:19, "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them."
Do not neglect the discipline of memorizing Scripture or you will always be defeated.
III. Complexity of Life.
Men are so angry today is because of the complexity of their lives. The corresponding pressures that a complex life produces sets some men off who have no rule over their own spirit.
The Apostle Paul chose another life. He described it for us in II Corinthians 1:12, "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world , and more abundantly to you-ward." He lived in simplicity and godly sincerity. What an example!
I have had the fortune in my life to see some (not too many) follow my counsel to simplify their lives. As I have practiced a simple life and seen others simplify their lives, pressure was relieved. In the place of pressure came peace and peace is the opposite of anger. It is an easy solution.
The writer of Hebrews said, "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," Hebrews 12:1.
When I ran Track and Field we would sometimes practice with weights strapped to our ankles or wrists. You sure felt free when you took those off for the meet. Many things in our lives just weigh us down. It is time to discard them. One preacher put it, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
If you are frustrated and angry, look deep. The root of the problem may be that your life is too complex. Bail out the boat before you sink. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised if you will simplify your life and get your house and finances in order. Peace will come!
One last thought: If you are too busy for the Lord, the Bible, the church, etc. YOU ARE TOO BUSY. Read the story about the two ladies in Luke 10:38-42 , it could have well been two men today.
Men are angry today is because of correction. CORRECTION? Yes, Correction! Correction is a part of life. It is part of God's plan for all of us. He uses His word to correct us (II Timothy 3:16). He uses people and preachers to correct us (Proverbs 6:23). This is one of God's ordained ways to make us better. Proverbs 27:17, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:6a, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend;..."
Now we come to the problem. It is found in Proverbs 15:10 , "Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die." CORRECTION IS GRIEVOUS when someone forsakes the way. Personal pride will often launch a man into a rage when corrected. Let us look at a Biblical example:
Asa's Rage- II Chronicles 16:7-10 "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. Then Asa was wroth with the seer , and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time."
King Asa went into a rage when rebuked and corrected by a prophet (seer) named Hanani. King Asa had been a good and righteous king up to this point. However, deep rooted pride hides itself and eventually surfaces in many ugly forms. One is rage and anger. Asa did not attack the message, he attacked the messenger-which is wrong!
Men should realize that correction is something that is good for us and needed. It will make us better men. We must allow it. We can not let our pride keep from us something so good as correction. Be thankful for God's messengers even if their message is not palatable to us.
V. Jealousy and Envy.
Another reason for anger in men today is jealousy and envy. " Jealousy is the rage of a man ..." (Proverbs 6:34).
Proverbs 27:4, "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?"
Joseph's brothers envied him and tried to kill him (Genesis 37:11-20) . King Saul envied David and tried to kill him (I Samuel 18:9) . The Pharisees envied Christ and killed Him (Matthew 27:18).
Men must rule their human spirit . Proverbs 25:28, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." If a man does not rule his spirit he will devastate himself. The human spirit basically comprises the mind, will and emotions. If a man does not rule his emotions they will surely rule him. Jealously and envy are among the most evil emotions we must face. Rooted in pride they will turn us against others and will turn on anger.
Temperance (self control and self restraint) is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today and give you this self control.
Some men are so angry today because of self-will. They want to get their way- right away! Let us look first at the example of Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons.
Genesis 49:5-7, "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger , for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel ."
What a turmoil there must have been inside of these two men. They vandalized property and killed a man all because of their anger. Their anger was fierce and their wrath was cruel. It was so bad that the author did not even want to look into it. The author did not want his soul or his honour anywhere near their anger.
The anger and wrath of Simeon and Levi divided and scattered their family. " He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind ..." (Proverbs 11:29a). (The tribe of Levi, admirably recovered later in their history from their fathers faults.)
Self-will will trigger anger in a man. It starts when he is a little boy. They are called temper tantrums. Wise parents will not tolerate temper tantrums in little boys or girls. If they do, they may end up with a man someday who has no rule over his own spirit (Proverbs 25:28).
When parents chastise their children immediately and adequately for throwing a temper tantrum, that child learns self-control. Proverbs 16:32, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." Self-control then becomes their character not self-will. Self-will, mixed with anger, is deadly. Consider the story found in Luke 23:1-5, "And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce , saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place."
When these men did not get their way immediately with Pilate they became more fierce. When angry men do not get their way right away they become more fierce.
How sad! Would to God we had more men of temperance-but that will take proper parental discipline and character training of babies and boys. Being self-willed is not becoming of a Christian man :
II Peter 2:10, "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled , they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities." What a sad description of rebels.
Jesus was not self-willed - John 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
A pastor is disqualified if he is self-willed- Titus 1:7, "For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled , not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;"
VII. Demonic Possession or Oppression.
Matthew 8:28, "And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils , coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce , so that no man might pass by that way."
We see that the nature of these men is fierceness. They were "exceeding fierce." We clearly see why. They were possessed of devils.
The oppression of a man or possession of a man by devils can cause him to be fierce. Even believers can be affected by the inward workings of Satan. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost ...?" was asked of Ananias (Acts 5:3).
Why are some devils so fierce? The next verse per haps gives some insight. Matthew 8:29, "And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Devils know they are doomed. Their judgment has already been pronounced on them. They know their destination is hell and that place has already been prepared for them (Matthew 25:41).
When a devil comes upon a person the person tends to take on the nature of that devil whether lying or fierceness. They love to possess bodies (Matthew 8:30 -32) and trouble man who was made in the image of God.
There is deliverance from devils and fierceness through the power of God. Men enslaved can be set free. Being angry or fierce is not a hopeless thing. Christ can deliver.
Mark 5:15, "And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid."
If we will REALLY come to Jesus Christ then by the Spirit of God and the finger of God, Jesus can cast the devils out.
Luke 11:20, "But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you."
Let us review the reasons why men are so angry today:
1. A Lack of Spirituality.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace, not anger (Galatians 5:22 -23)."To be spiritually minded is life and peace..." (Romans 8:6) Peace is the opposite of anger. Peace comes from spirituality.
2. A Lack of Scripture Memorization.
Jesus resisted the temptations of the devil by quoting scripture (Matthew 4:1-10). The Devil fled and left Him alone.
The Sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17 ). We are told to take the sword. This is our only offensive weapon in our spiritual battles.
If you are an angry man, memorize some scriptures about that subject so that the Holy Spirit can bring them to your recollection as you fight the tempter. You might want to start by memorizing Ephesians 4:31-32.
3. The Complexity of Life.
The pressures of a complex life produces a burden that many men can not carry. They vent by anger.
The scriptures teach that ours should be a simple life (see II Corinthians 1:12 ).
When a man's life is out of God's order he will often try to carry the disappointments of yesterday, the complexities of today and the worries of tomorrow all within himself. Stress and a corresponding anger can be produced.
Jesus taught us to forget the past and take no thought for tomorrow. Live simply and by faith today. Lay aside the weights and the nonessential time and energy wasting complexities in life. Make your life simple and keep it simple. Life will become less stressful and peaceful.
"Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way..." (Proverbs 15:10). Deep rooted pride eventually will surface in the form of contention (Proverbs 13:10 ).
When King Asa was corrected by the preacher Hanani he got angry and put the preacher in prison and oppressed the people (II Chronicles 16:7-10).
Proud people rarely improve. We need to be humble for correction is God's means of making us better. Correction will make us better or make us angry depending on how much of a man we really are.
5. Jealousy and Envy.
Men often become angry at those they are jealous and envious of. Joseph's brothers tried to kill him. King Saul tried to kill David. The Pharisees had Christ killed because of their envy (Matthew 27:18).
We must rule attitude and emotions. We must be thankful for what God has done for us and keep our eyes off of others. Temperance, a fruit of the Spirit, is self-control and self-restraint.
Simeon and Levi in their anger and self-will slew a man and destroyed a bunch of property (see Genesis 49:5-7) . Some men today terrify their own wives and children while they tear up their own houses. Adult men still having temper tantrums!
Self-will will trigger anger in a man. Men need to give up their will to God's will.
We need to develop a temperate character in little boys and girls by instruction and discipline.
7. Demonic Possession and Oppression.
The man in Matthew 8:28 was "exceeding fierce" because of the demonic possession he endured. The devils know that they have a short time left. Satan is described as a person full of wrath (Revelation 12:12 ). It is no wonder that those he possesses take on his character.
When Jesus delivered the man from the devils he was restored to "his right mind." (Mark 5:15 ).
We must pray and fast for those oppressed of the devil for God to give them deliverance (see Matthew 17:21 ).
It is not becoming of a Christian man to be angry. Let us take what we have learned and apply it all the way to victory. "... live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you." (II Corinthians 13:11b).
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