(Ephesians 4:31) “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:”
The “new man” is the answer to just about every personal division and dispute in the Church. Bitterness and wrath build up on the inside when hurt is not resolved. Anger is the by-product. Then it all spills over to the outside and out of the mouth comes clamour (literally an “outcry”) and evil speaking. All of this becomes the status quo between two people, two families or even two groups when they continue to allow the hurt to churn. The Body of Christ is divided when we try to resolve these things in the flesh.
Notice the word “Let” and the phrase “be put away” are both passive. It means we are the recipient of the action of putting away, not the initiator. Who is the one “putting away?” It is the “new man” operating under the direction and power of God’s Word empowered by the Holy Spirit! When we “put on the new man” (Eph 4:24) the old self-life is no longer in charge of the situation. The emotions that consumed our mind are replaced with love and mercy stemming from the mind of Christ. His thinking replaces our thinking and as a result His words replace our words.
We need local churches filled with the Body of believers operating out of the “new man.” We need a fresh understanding of what it means to be crucified with Christ and raised with Him. This is the core of the “new man” life. Walking in this identity would allow us to lay aside our disputes and see them for the pettiness they really are. We would see families united, love rekindled for each other, marriages saved and friendships salvaged. The barriers and divisions that seem so large in the “old man” would turn into dust when viewed from the eyes of the “new man.”
(1 Corinthians 14:20) “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”
Renewed Thought – Are we more interested in being consumed with God than consuming each other?
(Ephesians 4:26) “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”
What does this verse really mean? I’ve heard so many explanations over the years that I think most people know how to apply the verse before they totally get the full meaning. It may be applied to husbands and wives, parents and children, and even friends. But I’ve seen so many Christians over the years who live in constant righteous indignation over the doctrine and actions of other Christians that I don’t think many take the time to think of this verse in light of their personal outrage.
Is it alright to be angry but tear down the name of another brother or sister in Christ? Is it alright to constantly ridicule the beliefs of others just because they may not know the Scriptures or have been raised in a system that has some doctrinal problems? Most of the time when we see someone living in daily outrage over the beliefs of others we are really seeing someone who is living in daily pride. Pride lifts up the heart over the pure motivation of seeing others come to more personal knowledge of Christ. Pride is sin.
Yes, there are times when I need to be angry over sin. But I think I need to be more outraged over my own sin first before I am angry over what others believe or do. If I hate the pride and self-righteous attitude of my own heart, I find less time to look around for a reason to be angry at other Christians. But when the time comes when I am personally outraged over someone else, I also need to remember that it needs to be settled quickly or else I will be consumed.
Renewed Thought – Am I angry enough at my own sin first?
Galatians 2:11 – “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.”
Blame – nobody likes it. From the Garden of Eden, everyone has been trying to shift it to someone else. Blame – “to find fault.” Paul doesn’t write a letter to Peter to show his disapproval. He goes right to the source. There’s a problem with the way Peter is acting. Paul wants to make sure Peter is perfectly clear about this issue. Peter is supposed to be a mature believer, a battle-proven apostle, and in tune with God’s program. It’s hard to believe hypocrisy could be in someone like the Apostle Peter, right? So when Paul withstood him to the face, the Apostle to the Gentiles was justified in unleashing his indignation, right?
Actually, Paul didn’t correct Peter because he was angry with Peter’s hypocrisy. Paul’s correction was “because he was to be blamed.” In God’s eyes, blame and blamelessness are more about our public testimony than who the finger is accusing. Paul was concerned with Peter’s testimony and the testimony of those he was leading astray. A few chapters later in 6:1, Paul admonishes the spiritual leaders in Galatia to correct straying brothers with humility. That’s how we know that even in correcting Peter, Paul found a way to show his brother “grace and peace.”
This is a hard lesson most of us have had to learn – how to respond in a way that will allow the Lord to control the situation. It’s not always easy or clear cut to separate fleshly anger from an objective look at the spiritual aspect of a situation. In some cases, we need to make an appeal using the Scriptures in order to bring about correction. In some cases we need to avoid or withdraw ourselves from a situation in order to avoid compromising ourselves by getting caught up in the “blame game” or causing division. But in all of these situations, we need to trust the Lord to work on the heart of His people and work out the difficulty.
Renewed Thought – Righteous indignation leaves self out of the equation.