Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger… – Ephesians 4:26
Perhaps, one of the most misunderstood verses of Scripture is this. Many have taken this verse to mean that we should not go to sleep at night before resolving our anger. But is this verse referring to a couple who had a fight, or a father who is angry at his children? Let’s examine the context of this passage:
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:25-32
The context of this passage is Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Here, he is exhorting them, as believers, to no longer act as an unsaved person does (Eph 4:17). The unsaved person’s heart has not been regenerated, and is darkened to the truth. They have given themselves over to their sinful nature.
Paul is saying to be angry at this. It is good, and right, to be angry at the sin. Have a righteous hate towards the sin. Despise it.
And do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Self-serving anger that is malicious, vengeful, and undisciplined is always sinful. This type of anger does not belong in the Christian’s life. But anger that is righteous, that is, anger at the things that anger God, which is not based on selfishness, is not only is permissible but commanded. True, Godly love will always be angered at the things which cause affliction towards those whom we love.
So, essentially what Paul is saying is the exact opposite of how this verse is often used. He’s not saying be angry for a while, but make sure you resolved your anger before bed. He is saying DO NOT let your anger burn out. Continue to be angry at sin. Continue to despise it–forever. Do not become numb to it.
This is exactly what is happening in our world today. Christians have become numb to sin. They have let the sun go down on their anger. We even have prominent evangelicals in high leadership positions telling us NOT to be angry at sin. But we are called to hate sin, and to be separate from it–to be disgusted by it and hate it. We should be outraged by sin, and outraged at those who do it.
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