I shared my testimony in Part 4 to give you an idea of how a life can be opened up to anger and how a stronghold of anger can get its roots planted deep into the heart.
When we get angry we need to ask why. I have spoken with many believers who would say that anger is their "Achilles Heel" when it comes to walking a Spirit-filled Christian life. Few things can ruin a Christian testimony as quickly as anger can.
If we are to deal with and overcome the anger in our hearts we need to first come to grips as to why it is in there. In many believers the anger is not the root issue but a symptom of the root issue. In other words, they know that they need to deal with their anger, but there are buttons or trigger points that don't change that keep the anger on the stove with the heat on. It is just waiting to boil over again.
In my testimony, my anger towards my dad was a symptom of the root problem of unforgiveness. Because I didn't want to forgive him, I couldn't deal with the anger in my heart. For the first 8 years as a believer I tried to work on the anger towards my dad. I cried, prayed, read every Scripture in the Bible concerning anger, I fasted, and got spiritual counsel but the anger would just hide deep in the heart until my dad did something new that caused the anger to raise to the surface again. It was after 8 years that I realized that anger was not the real issue, but was a manifestation of a deeper issue.
The real issue was that I had not forgiven him and in truth did not want to. Now realize, I was a Pastor, ministering to people every week about the love of God and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am ministering about forgiveness in how we need to receive it from the Father and give it to people, yet I was not doing what I preached.
The question is then WHY? Why would I not, as a Christian believer and Pastor want to deal with the root issue of unforgiveness, yet would seek the Father almost daily concerning my anger towards my dad?
This will be answered in the next study.
Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:8-10 ESV But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (9) Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (10) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
1 Timothy 2:8 ESV I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
James 1:19-22 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (21) Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
The key to these studies is not to just identify there is an anger problem among believers.
The key is to identify ways whereby we can be free from the control, habit, and destructiveness of anger.
Someone might make the statement, "Pastor, you just don't understand, I have a right to be angry."
Let me share a testimony about anger and getting freed from it.
I was raised in a small town of 250 people in Virginia. My home life was filled with alcohol, verbal abuse, fighting and constant negative condemnation. When I left home in 1972 for the military my driving force for running away to the military was my anger, hatred, and unforgiving broken relationship towards my dad. Although I ran away from home, I could not run away from my anger, therefore I carried these strong, destructive feelings in the service with me.
Before long I was becoming like my dad in drinking every day and getting into fights weekly. I hated myself and blamed all of my choices and actions on my past home life. It was easy for me to be a victim to the way I was raised then to take personal responsibility for my rebellious hate-filled life.
Then Sept. 4, 1974 I was wonderfully and gloriously saved. I knew I was a child of God, I knew my sins had been forgiven, and I knew that I had a home in eternity with the Father. However, I still had an anger and unforgiveness issue with my dad. Now to move forward eight years to 1982. I had been a believer for eight years and had been Pastoring for five years before realizing that I was attempting to transfer my personal heart issues upon my dad and the way I was raised.
I was married and had my two sons. My wife had never seen me angry but anytime I was placed in a situation were a person under the influence of alcohol was getting loud and obnoxious something rose up from deep within me that made me want to hit the guy. My wife could not see what was going on in my heart and mind but she could tell that I was different when around someone under the influence of alcohol.
In 1982 I had me a serious forgiveness time with the Lord that caused me to put my past in the past. I drove 2,200 miles from California to Virginia to ask my dad to forgive me. Something happened in my heart and in my dad's heart that day. Dad stopped his physical violence towards mom and I had a release of the anger and unforgiveness in my heart. I stopped living as a victim to my past and started living with joy aiming for the goal the heavenly Father had set for me. Now I could capture what I was captured for.
In Part 1 we looked at how we are to FACE THE REAL ISSUES:
In Part 2 we looked at how we are to DEAL WITH OUR ANGER:
Today we will look at the need to DIE TO SELF AND LIVE BY CHRIST:
Galatians 2:20 ESV I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We might quickly say, "I have died to myself." Remember this, any place that I am offended, hurt, and angry in my heart is a place that I am not dead in Christ, but alive in the flesh. Dead men can't be offended, hurt and angered. I know this is hard but it is truth.
I have done a lot of funerals in my 40 years of ministry. I have never had a person in the coffin rise up and say that they disliked the color of the interior of the coffin or disliked the funeral flowers or disliked the service. Dead people don't have a choice nor are they hunt and offended.
Let me say that I am not trying to minimize the hurt or pain that you may have experienced in your life. I am only addressing the options we have in dealing with those experiences and the emotions tied to the hurt. We can own the pain and hurt and give it to Christ for healing, or the pain and hurt can own us and dictate our lives. When we live in anger, pain, hurt, and unforgiveness we are giving the keys of our mind and emotions to someone else to drive our lives as they please. I'm sorry, but life is short and I refuse to allow others to control my thoughts and feelings, while I roll around in self-piety playing the part of a damaged victim.
An open and deliberate decision to not live according to your old life and consciously to allow Christ to live out His life in you is a special and necessary part of deliverance from anger. When this is done, you open yourself to Christ's full work in your life.
There seems to be two aspects to dying to self. There is the initial dedication period which is like starting anew. There is also the regular daily moment-by-moment dying to self which starts with a daily morning prayer where we commit ourselves to the Lord honestly and without reservation or excuses. We make these choices every day. If we don't we will find ourselves building a wall of anger within us towards someone until one day we wake up and realize how far we have removed ourselves from God, His abundant life and His peace and joy.
(Ephesians 4:30 ESV) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
(Ephesians 4:31 ESV) Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
No One Can Make You Angry:
NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU ANGRY:
We started a new series in Part one were we are seeking to deal with and overcome anger. This first step we covered is to face the real issues. I want to say that to face the real issues we have to admit the truth about our heart.
Here is the truth: No one can MAKE us angry. We are fully and totally responsible for our anger. Yes, we can be provoked. Yes, we can be mistreated, wronged, hurt or abused. Yes, we have the worse possible physical, emotional, or mental pain thrust upon us at no fault of our own. And yes, because of the wrong inflicted on us, we can say "we have every right to be angry." However, at the end of the day, we are always 100% responsible for how we feel and think. Otherwise, we would not stand before the Lord in the judgment alone, we would have to have all the people who offended us and hurt us there with us so we could justify our actions.
Although we might have been hurt beyond measure and totally inhumane, and far beyond what most can understand, we still need to know that we are totally responsible for all of our feelings. I cannot use the excuse "my children make me mad, my spouse makes me mad, or my boss makes me mad." They may provoke to anger, and many situations during the day will provoke us, but the choice to be angry always rests with me the individual. The same goes for any emotion. The choice to be happy, sad, upset, worried, fearful, and the list could go on and on, is my responsibility. I can be provoked to happiest, however the choice to be happy is still mine to make.
That is why God calls us overcomers and tells us that we are without excuse. We can overcome anything and stand before the Father boldly and honestly without trying to blame something or someone outside my skin for what is in our heart.
So in Part 1 we looked at how we are to...
1. FACE THE REAL ISSUES:
Now we will touch on...
2. DEALING WITH YOUR ANGER: Take ownership of your anger.
If we are always justifying or blaming others for our anger, we are telling God that He was wrong in 1 Cor.13:5 when He says that His love is not easily angered. If we blame something or someone outside of us then we are doing the same thing Adam did, saying the problem is not in our heart but with others and the world. "God, You fix the world outside of my skin and I won't be angry inside my skin."
Unresolved anger is always bad and we SHOULD NOT come to the place of tolerating it as a natural part of our personality or who we are. Nor should we accept it as ownership like we have a right to possess it because of the hurt we have suffered. As a believer we do not have a right to be a victim to our past, nor do we get a free pass from God to excuse our anger.
James 1:19-20 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
>>> Spend time confessing past Anger:
Anger from the past must be acknowledged and confessed. Amends need to be made. Forgiveness for silent or open anger must be made. We also need to ask forgiveness for not loving them as we should have. Just like driving a vehicle, stop fixing your gaze in the rearview mirror of life. The believer's life lies in the present and future, because the past is dead and buried.
>>> Repent From Present Anger:
Anger in the present and future must be cut off. You must recognize that anger is not going to accomplish the righteousness of God. You will need to confess that you have been responding to your own selfish desires and have focused on your own will and life, and not on God's will and purpose. After all, the biggest reason we hold on to anger is that it is our only means of payback or vengeance against those who wronged us. It is our way of getting even. However, the Word of God says that vengeance belongs to Him.
To Be Continued...
Charles Morris. Founder and Senior Pastor of RSIM USA.