Be Angry, But Sin Not

Part 1  Righteous indignation vs selfish personal anger

The following verses almost seem to contradict themselves.

We are told to put away anger.    We are also told: ‘be angry…

8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.   Colossians 3:8 ESV

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 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. 29 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. 30 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.   Ephesians 4:25-32 ESV


     Be Angry, yet do not sin:

We are to live in peace with each other. Vs 26 below says ‘be angry’ (referring to a righteous indignation toward evil and the hardness of men’s hearts.)

But the verse continues:‘yet do not sin. (It is not to be prolonged, brooded over, and turned into a personal anger, which gives opportunity to the enemy to set against each other those who should be one in unity in Jesus Christ.)

Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one another.  26“Be angry, yet do not sin.” Do not let the sun set upon your anger, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.   Ephesians 4:25-27 BSB


from –Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

(26) Be ye angry, and sin not.

…..Anger itself is not sin, for our Lord Himself felt it (Mark 3:5) at the “hardness of men’s hearts;”…….

In the form of resentment, and above all of the resentment of righteous indignation, it performs…a stimulating and inspiring function in the strife against evil.

But it is a dangerous and exceptional weapon: and hence the exhortation “sin not,” and the practical enforcement of that exhortation in the next clause……Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.–In this command (for which a Pythagorean parallel may be found) St. Paul gives a two-fold safeguard against abuse of even righteous anger.

(1) It is not to be prolonged beyond the sunset–beyond the sleep which ends the old day and leads in the freshness of the new, and which by any godly man must be prepared for in commendation of himself to God, and in prayer for His forgiveness, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

(2) It is not to be brooded over and stimulated; for the word “wrath” is properly self-exasperation, being similar to the “contention” of Acts 15:30, described as alien to the spirit of love in 1Corinthians 13:5. It is that “nursing of wrath to keep it warm,” which can be checked even by those who cannot control the first outburst, and which constantly corrupts righteous indignation into selfish personal anger, if not into malignity….

In accordance with the general principle noted above, excess of wrath is forbidden, as giving opportunity to the enemy, who desires to break up unity, and “set at variance” those who should be one in Jesus Christ. . . .


Jesus used harsh language of righteous indignation toward the Pharisees who were leading people astray by trying to make them follow the law and rules, and keeping people from the truth of Gods way of salvation.

‘Whitewashed tombs’  /  ‘serpents, brood of vipers’ Matthew 23:27

27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23: 27,28

vs 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

The Pharisees put impossible heavy burdens of human effort onto the people by using the law to control them with deeds and works. The law is kind of like a mirror, where we can see ourselves and our flaws. We see our sin, but the law-mirror cannot do anything to make us righteous, no matter how hard we try to follow it. Only God can do this.

  In contrast, Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ That is why Jesus spoke so harshly to the Pharisees. They might have had the appearance of ‘religion’ with all their ‘deeds’ and works. But it was a false hope which deceived the people, keeping them from the truth of God’s grace.  This caused the righteous anger toward what the Pharisees were doing. But, it wasn’t a brooding, personal anger.


         “Your life is the only Bible some people ever will read.”


“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” . . . . “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.”



I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19 ESV

If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15 

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.  Proverbs 29:11 ESV

31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31,32 NIV

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment;  Matthew 5:21 ESV

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;  Hebrews 12:14,15 ESV

Don’t grumble against each other, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!        James 5:9 

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Romans 14:13 

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. 1 Timothy 5:1,2

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.  James 1:26 NIV

Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.  Proverbs 12:18 NLT

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.  Proverbs 17:27 NIV

Through overconfidence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel  Proverbs 13:10 NASB

Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.                   Proverbs 17:4 NLT

Avoiding strife is an honor for a person, But any fool will quarrel.  Proverbs 20:3 NASB

One who is slow to anger has great understanding; But one who is quick-tempered exalts foolishness.  Proverbs 14:29 NASB

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.               Proverbs 16:32 NLT

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.                  Proverbs 15:18 NIV

A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.  Proverbs 26:21 NLT

With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.  Proverbs 25:15 ESV


“If Christians cannot extend grace through faithful presence within the body of believers, they will not be able to extend grace to those outside.”

                                                                ~ James Davison Hunter



1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is: patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 

     1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NLT

Part 2  How should we live?

       For every thing there is a season…

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.                                  1 John 3:11

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Romans 12:18

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  1 Peter 3:8 ESV

…..Live in peace with each other.   1 Thessalonians 5:13

7But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  James 3:17 NLT

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 ESV

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.                      1 Thessalonians 5:11

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

Be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1,2

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must for give. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:12-14

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.                   Romans 12:10

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1 ESV

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.      Colossians 3:16

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.               Romans 15:7

Keep on loving each other. Hebrews 13:1

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:26

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:25


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