We are continuing with the Sermon on the Mount, tonight touching on a common sin among Christians: ANGER.
Did you know that no sin is without consequence, especially anger? We are called children of God, not the crowd at a cage fight. We are required to keep it together, learn and relearn how to battle what our mind wants to do before it falls out of our mouths and through our fists.
Jesus equates anger and hate to murder. Murder is different than killing; murder has intent. Then our anger, our HATE, has intent toward the person we are cross with. Some of us quietly plot the demise in our heads to that person that has wronged us. We are human…free will. But with the gift of free will comes responsibility to govern it in a GODLY way, not murderous.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is trying to reteach us how to consider what we do with our minds before we act upon them, such as lust. How many of us have lusted in the heart? ALL OF US. Jesus tells us that what we DO in our minds is precariously close to acting upon them.
Matthew 5:21-26 says, “21You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”
Yep, it’s that ‘turn the other cheek‘ stuff. But the explanation is much better than that. How do we turn the other cheek? How do we discern what is righteous anger? Having righteous anger is not a bad thing, we should be angry with sin! But only AT sin, not the sinner. In other words, being angry at the sin of abortion or homosexuality is okay, but slinging it at the sinner is NOT.
We need to consider righteous anger versus relative anger:
Ephesians 4:26-32 says, “26Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil. 28Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
And there it is: FORGIVENESS. We have to forgive or we will be bound in a way that is not of God to continue in a spirit of anger and hate.
The Ten Commandments given by God to Moses spoke of our shortcomings as humans since the fall of Man in the Garden; critical thinking put the apple in the hands of Eve rather than trusting God. So, understanding that we had free will in the Garden, how much more do we need to renew our minds now? Not just daily, but but every minute!
Romans 12:1-2 says, 12I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
There it is: The Sin Nature. In this passage in Romans, Paul directed it to the ‘brethren’, or Christians, not the guy on the street. The church was young then and was going in a way that was unseemly. The Apostle Paul understood the sin nature because he also had to battle it. Remember, PAUL WAS A MURDERER. Paul need a Savior, Paul needed to learn how to rewire his mind to be GODLY. Paul struggled with the sin nature just like we all do.
Renewing our mind, rewiring it from what it was, is key to not having a murderous heart and replacing it with ‘what is good for necessary edification‘ and ‘acceptable to God‘.
Be the Christian you want others to be.