Is Anger a Sin?

by Rayola Kelley

Q: I was recently given the impression that any show or sign of anger is a sin. Is there any Scriptural basis for this conclusion?

A: Sadly, some of the popular presentations in regard to true Christianity are not realistic. The subject of anger easily falls into this classification. You would have to be an unfeeling robot, a mannequin to adhere to the concept that a Christian will not feel, experience, or express anger in some way during his or her lifetime.

      The truth is, anger is an emotion. It is sometimes an expression spurred by disappointment, disgust, frustration, hurt, misunderstanding, weariness, and fear. The Bible is clear that anger is not a sin in itself. After all, God also possesses anger. His anger can be expressed in three ways. They are:

      Righteous indignation: This type of anger is directed towards that which is unrighteous and unjust. Jesus expressed righteous indignation when He threw the money-changers out of the temple at the beginning of His ministry and at the end of His mission. Such indignation takes offence and will express itself when there is a blatant show of contempt or disregard for the things of God.

      Wrath: This is the most intense display of anger on God’s part. Such wrath can be related to rage. However, when man rages, there is no righteousness to be found in it. God will only show His wrath upon disobedience (Ephesians 5:6). God’s wrath will not occur until His overtures have been completely rejected, man’s iniquity has come to full bloom, and there is no other recourse but for Him to display His wrath toward all that which is godless and rebellious. Such anger will always operate within the bounds of righteous and holy judgments.

      Vengeance: The final aspect of anger is expressed in vengeance. Anger that produces vengeance can prove to be destructive when it comes to man, but just when it comes to God. Man is not to seek vengeance because God in His righteous judgments will justly address those who are guilty at the proper time. This is why Scripture is clear that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19).

      The truth of the matter is that when it comes to man, it depends on how he handles his anger whether it becomes sin. Ephesians 4:26-27 instructs us to not let the sun go down on our anger and give a foothold to Satan. Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us to put it off with all malice and give way to that which is loving and virtuous.

      The reason for these instructions is that anger turned within becomes depression and hopelessness, while anger that takes root turns into bitterness. Anger that festers turns into malice and indifference, while anger that seethes turns into hatred. Anger that is allowed to escalate turns into rage and violence. It is for these reasons that anger must always be kept in perspective. It must be channeled in the right way as it becomes tempered by love. It must never rule us; rather, it must be overcome by meekness as we quickly come under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

      I do hope this brings the subject of anger into proper balance for you.