26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Ephesus, and all Christians everywhere, to put off their old sinful pre-converted desires and behavior, be renewed in their minds through the Word of God, and to put on their new regenerated behavior. This new self is characterized by holiness in desire and righteousness in behavior.
What exactly does righteous and holy behavior look like in our everyday world and culture? It is at this point that Paul becomes specific in the practical biblical truth set forth in Ephesians 4:22-24.
Ephesians 4:25 commands believers in Christ to always speak the truth to their neighbors. Ephesians 4:26-27 addresses the subject of anger.
Ephesians 4:26 begins with the command to be angry (ὀργίζω; orgizo). This means to be furious and enraged (Matt. 5:22; 18:34; 22:7; Luke 14:21; 15:28; Eph. 4:26; Rev. 11:18; 12:17+; Mark 1:4). At first glance, this verse seems a might confusing for God to command believers to be angry. This type of behavior and emotion does not seem to be very holy or righteous.
The command is followed by a complimentary command and do not sin. Sin (ἁμαρτάνω; hamartano) means to engage in wrong doing. Therefore, these two command strike a delicate balance between being enraged and not sinning in that rage.
Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “Be angry and do not sin is quoted from Ps. 4:4. By NT standards, anger can be either good or bad, depending on motive and purpose. Paul may have been sanctioning righteous indignation, anger at evil. This type of anger hates injustice, immorality, ungodliness, and every other sin. When such anger is unselfish and based on love for God and others, it not only is permissible but commanded. Jesus expressed this righteous anger (see Matt. 21:12; Mark 3:5; John 2:15).”
However, even righteous anger must not be felt for too long. The Apostle Paul further writes do not let the sun go down on your anger. This is also a command. In other words, even righteous anger can turn into bitterness. Therefore, anger, even if righteous, should be forsaken by the end of the given day. By doing so, the believer in Christ is to give no opportunity to the devil to get a foothold into one’s life. This can happen if anger is eventually not forsaken and discarded.
What makes you angry? Be careful to evaluate what makes you mad. Is your anger caused by that which angers God? Or is your anger because something did not go right at work, at school, or at home, or you did not get what you wanted? Take time to discern between holy anger and sinful anger, which is rooted in selfishness.
Have a God honoring day.
Soli deo Gloria!