I have often thought, “How is it possible to be angry and not sin?” I believe that every time I have ever been angry, I have sinned in some capacity. When you fail to rule your spirit you are going to do or say something wrong. Yet, in thinking about this verse recently, it dawned on me that there are some very specific ways in which we can sin when we are angry. And I believe that Paul had these sins in mind when he wrote Eph 4:26. If we can see some of the ways in which we can sin when we are angry, it will help us to be aware of these sins so we don’t commit them when we are angry. Paul said, “Be ye angry, and sin not.” You sin:
By holding on to your anger – Eph 4:26 – Paul said, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” You sin when you don’t deal swiftly with your anger to bring it under control. Paul said, you should be over your anger by sundown. Sundown, on the Jewish calendar, is the beginning of a new day. Therefore, Paul said you need to deal with your anger today and not carry it over to another day. Man, some people have hung on to things about which they are angry for years and even for decades. You can tell, because when they get upset, they dredge up these things of the past like they happened today. If this is you, you have become bitter. And by holding on to your anger, you have sinned. So, if you don’t want to sin when you are angry, don’t hold on to your anger.
By distorting the truth – when you are angry, you sin by becoming irrational. For example, in a conversation, you may hear a person with whom you are talking say something that he didn’t say. Yet, because you are angry, you accuse him of saying it, because you heard it that way, and react as if he did say it. Your reaction and response only incite you to more anger. You have distorted the truth. And by distorting the truth, you have sinned. If you don’t want to sin when you are angry, don’t distort the truth. Clarify it.
The Jews are another example of distorting the truth. When they were in the wilderness, they got mad at Moses for taking them out of Egypt. They were angry and they complained that the land where they were was not a land of milk and honey, and that Egypt was better. The truth is that Egypt was much worse, but they distorted that truth. The truth is that the land where they were was not a land of milk and honey because they were not in the promised land. The truth is that the wilderness with God was far better than Egypt. And the truth was that the Jews were not getting out of the wilderness until they completed forty years of wandering and the last of the generation who refused to believe God died out for their unbelief of and rebellion against God. That’s the truth. By distorting the truth, they sinned. Don’t distort the truth. Be honest.
By twisting the facts – when you get mad, you twist the facts. You add some things to the facts to beef up your justification for being mad. What you add may be true, but it has nothing to do with the thing you say you’re mad about. You’re just trying to get more fuel on the fire so that you can rage against the person you’re mad at. When you add to the facts, you are sinning. Don’t add to the facts.
You leave out some things. Often, there are pertinent facts that fully explain why a thing happened the way it did. And you know that if you tell the whole story, people will understand why it happened the way that it did. Therefore, when you’re angry, you leave out these pertinent facts so that you can build your case. By twisting these facts, you have sinned. Put all the facts on the table.
You lie about some things. You know what the facts are but you lie about them so that you can be justified in your anger. In a fight, you might say, “He started it,” when the fact is you started it. When you lie about the facts when you are angry, you have sinned. Be truthful and honest. See Eph 4:25.
By blaming the wrong person – When you are angry it is very common to shift the blame to another person. Ahab said to Elijah, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” He was blaming Elijah for the terrible condition of Israel. In fact, Ahab was the cause of all the trouble they had endured. Elijah said, “I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord,” [1 Ki 21:20]. Ahab blamed the wrong person. He was the one to blame. But when you’re mad, you shift the blame. When you get mad at God, for instance, you will accuse him of wrongdoing. He’s not to blame. You sin when you do that. When you get mad because your child has been disciplined for doing wrong, you might be inclined to blame the disciplinarian. You have sinned; you have blamed the wrong person. When you are angry and you blame the wrong person, you have sinned. Don’t blame the wrong person.
By defending the wrong person – again, speaking of children, since this is such a common scenario, you sin when you get mad and defend them instead of the authority who justly accused them. This is such a problem in law enforcement, in schools and even in churches. It is so common for people to defend the guilty party, when they get angry. We have seen many instances of this publicly and privately. God said, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord,” [Prov 17:15]. When you are angry and you defend the wrong person, you have sinned. Don’t defend the wrong person.
Conclusion: these are just a few specific examples of how you can be angry and sin. The Bible tells us to be angry, and sin not. So, the next time you are angry, be very careful. You cannot fail to rule your spirit. Be very careful to deal with your anger quickly and put it away [Eph 4:31]. Be very careful, to not distort the truth or twist the facts. You must be very, very honest with yourself and with others when you are angry. Be very careful to not blame the wrong person or defend the wrong person. The facts will tell you who is really to blame. Perhaps you will have to calm all the way down before you see who this really is. Therefore, be ye angry, and sin not.