Man is body, soul and spirit. The soul is made up of the will, intellect and emotions. The devil’s strategy is to deceive the mind, alter our emotions so that our will does the wrong thing. A lot of Christians live at the level of the soul rather than at the level of the spirit, which results in responding emotionally rather than biblically. There are three emotions that the devil likes to use against the believer – anger, depression and bitterness.
Anger and Bitterness
Recently, there was a honeymooning couple from the United States. They went walking, but as they went they got into a serious argument. That argument would prove fatal as the angered wife pushed her husband over the edge of a cliff. The Bible has much to say about anger. Ephesians 4:26, 27 says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Anger can lead to bitterness. Some years ago in Barbados, a homosexual man was so bitter that his lover was leaving him that he stabbed and killed him. He claimed that they had made vows. There are individuals who are so skutki depresji angry that they have contracted HIV that they go around infecting others through sexual encounters. Joseph in the book of Genesis was not bitter in spite of all that his brothers had done to him. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Human anger is normal and not necessarily sinful. The verse in Ephesians that was previously mentioned indicates that we do get angry, but we do not have to sin. There are some things in life that we should get angry about. For example, we should get angry at social evils like abortion, discrimination and domestic violence. Such anger should lead us to pray, to agitate and to take action that can correct the problems. Human anger may result from not having the right view of a situation – we are limited in our knowledge and may misjudge a situation. A person’s perception often becomes his/her reality whether it is based on objective truth or not. We get angry because we think the situation warrants it.
Human anger often leads to sin, which is why it is often condemned in the Bible. Sinful anger can be expressed in various ways. We may want to take vengeance on persons who have hurt us. Vengeance includes bitterness – strong feelings of animosity, resentment or cynicism. People who are bitter are harsh, critical, judgmental; their view of life and people is skewed and negative. Vengeance includes hatred and the desire for and taking revenge. Another expression of sinful anger is verbal abuse. We get angry and we give persons “a piece of our mind.” We insult, shout, argue and denigrate others with the intention of humiliating them. At the other extreme, sinful anger may be evidenced in refusing to share how we feel. Instead of openly communicating with others telling them how they have hurt us, we internalize our feelings, so that the person does not know that we are angry with them.
Human anger can be controlled. The first step is to admit that we’re angry. Some people do not want to admit that they are angry to others, but worst yet, they do not want to admit to themselves that they are angry. Once anger is not admitted, the person cannot deal with it. We must learn to control our outbursts, which involves thinking before we act and praying and talking to others. The Holy Spirit has given us fruit that we must daily cultivate. The Bible tells us that if we walk in the spirit, we will not carry out the desires of the sinful nature. We must practice confession and forgiveness. We must confess to God and others the sinful expressions of anger and we need to be willing to forgive and to receive forgiveness. Additionally, we must avoid ruminating on the problem – the source of anger. To ruminate is to constantly think about the problem, which may lead to the feeling of revenge; that must be resisted. To get your mind to stop thinking about something, you have to preoccupy it with other things: reading a novel, watching television, talking to others, working on a project, reading the Word and praying are some of the ways in which this could be done.
There are various causes for anger. There are physical causes – things that are physically wrong with persons that cause them to react angrily and/or aggressively. Persons become angry in reaction to injustice, either directed against themselves or against loved ones. Persons also become angry because of frustration; they are angry because there are obstacles blocking them from realizing a goal or accomplishing what they want. Anger also comes because of threat and hurt: when persons perceive that they are rejected, put down, ignored, humiliated, unjustly criticized or threatened in some other way. Anger is typically a mask for the hurt that we feel: we may be disappointed or hurt by a person’s actions or negligence, but instead of expressing that hurt, we hide it behind anger. For example, some children are really hurt because of rejection, and they express that hurt through expressions of anger. Anger is also caused through learning. We can learn how to respond to various situations by seeing the examples of others. If our parents were prone to react angrily, then we may have been conditioned to react angrily to various situations.