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Overcoming Anger

Anger is yet another stronghold that we need, with God’s help, to pull down. One dictionary defines anger this way: “A violent passion of the mind excited by a real or supposed injury; usually accompanied with a propensity to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party.”[1]

Don’t you think it’s interesting that the term isn’t defined as a violent passion of the heart? Anger is a passion of the mind. It comes from injury, whether real or supposed and the battle is waged in our minds.

Injury is not just a physical injury. People can be emotionally injured as well. They can feel that God didn’t do what they wanted Him to do or what He said He would do. Consequently, they feel a degree of injury and the resulting anger.

Many people are angry with God for what He allowed to happen or what they feel He did to them. Grief is grief and pain is pain. It’s real. But, I have to say that when you’ve suffered the kind of pain my family has felt—massive, earth-shattering pain—you have a decision to make. You are either going to trust the goodness and sovereignty of God in the midst of all of that, or you’ll choose to be angry and bitter.

We have a choice to make. We can be spoiled, angry as little children, yelling, “Not fair, not fair!” Or, we have the opportunity to grow up and trust God even when we don’t understand what’s happening around us.

There is such a thing as “righteous anger.” Paul writes in Ephesians 4:26–27, ““Be angry, and do not sin”:do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” There is a way to be angry and not sin. We see it in Jesus’ life. Clearly He was angry at the Pharisees and the moneychangers. He turned over tables and cracked a whip to make His point. Jesus was sinless and therefore we know his anger wasn’t sin.

Here’s the important thing we must remember: Jesus anger was at the offense, not the offender. He was angry at the sin the people were committing, not the people. That’s the major difference between righteous anger and sinful anger.

Righteous anger is also settled and isn’t carried over. The sun doesn’t go down on righteous anger. It’s settled and over.

When is anger sin?

Theologian Albert Barnes (1798–1870) answers that question well in his commentary on Ephesians:

  • When it is excited without any sufficient cause—when we are in no danger, and do not need it for a protection. We should be safe without it (quick tempered, short, unnecessary).
  • When it transcends the cause, if any cause really exists. All that is beyond the necessity of immediate self-protection, is apart from its design, and is wrong (over reacting, excessive compared to offense)
  • When it is against “the person” rather than the “offense.” The object is not to injure another; it is to protect ourselves.
  • When it is attended with the desire of “revenge.” That is always wrong; (Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19; punishment or payback).
  • When it is cherished and heightened by reflection (stewing, brewing and rehearsing the offense).
  • When there is an unforgiving spirit; a determination to exact the utmost satisfaction for the injury which has been done (merciless, unforgiving and un-redemptive)[2]

Anger is either righteous or sinful—based on the degree of anger, the object of our anger, or the desire in the midst of our heart when we’re angry. That’s what determines whether it’s righteous or sinful.

With what do we replace our anger? Ephesians 4:32 tells us, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  Instead of anger, you draw from what God has already done in your life and you give that out to other people. Has God been kind to every single one of us? Absolutely. Has he been tenderhearted to us in the midst of our own sinful, angry stupidity? Absolutely. Has he forgiven every single one of us completely? Absolutely. Now, instead of anger, you take some of what He gave to you and you give it away to other people.

Below is a prayer we call “PreScripture Prayers.” These are passages of Scripture that have to do with exactly what we’re talking about.

Maybe God has been speaking to you about anger and you know you need to deal with it. You can prayer this PreScripture pray anytime you feel the enemy is trying to push you into anger. Take it captive with God’s Word and prayer:

Anger PreScripture Prayer

Father, thank You for being merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. Thank You for abounding in goodness and truth, and keeping mercy for thousands and for forgiving my iniquity, transgression and sin. Exodus 34:6-7

Thank You for forgetting my sins and lawless deeds and remembering them no more. Thank You for not being angry with me. Hebrews 8:12

Because you have forgiven my past completely, blessed my present abundantly and guaranteed my future extravagantly, I no longer need to live an angry, bitter life.

I repent of and renounce marinating in negativity, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice. Ephesians 4:26, 31

I repent of making a place for the devil to work in and through me that has caused me to hurt others.  Ephesians 4:27

I repent of wanting vengeance against the people who have injured me and forgetting that vengeance is Yours alone.  Romans 12:19

I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing right now.  1 John 1:9

Today, I renounce Satan and all of his angry, destructive ways.

I will no longer walk in angry foolishness. Proverbs 14:17

I will no longer stir up strife. Proverbs15:18

I will rule my spirit and therefore no longer be vulnerable to the enemies attacks. Proverbs 25:28

Right now, in the Name of Jesus and by His authority, I tear down the stronghold of sinful anger over my life. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

I choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control to rule my life. Galatians 5:22-23

Father, I will give to others what You have given me—mercy, grace, kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness. Psalm 103:8, Ephesians 4:32

In Jesus Name, Amen!


[1] The American and English Encyclopedia of Law, Volume 2, (NorthPort, Long Island, NY, Edward Thompson Co. Publishers, 1896), 340

[2] Albert Barnes, Barnes Notes on the Bible (Public Domain 1847-85). E-sword edition

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