The Man-Eating Power of Anger

Sat, Apr 28, 2012
Duration:1 hr 7 mins

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Message text

The Man-Eating Power of Anger


It is easy, on a weekend like this, to make resolutions and commitments to holiness and effort in sanctification. To be a better man and a better husband. It is just as easy, maybe easier, to forget and fall short of that resolve in the weeks to come. So work hard at applying it and let us pray that God will keep us and that we will be on guard and work hard through this time and the weeks, months, and years to come. Retreats can be a time to refocus and recalibrate, and we hope that this time will be that in our lives this weekend.

Genesis 4:1-15 is our text.

Life often puts us in infuriating circumstances. How can we be good and angry at the same time? Stats show that our culture is at a boiling time. It is an age of rage. 1 out of every 7 Americans is on the verge of exploding in an act of violence. A surprising number of men are killed each year by soft drink vending machines. They don't get their Coke, or their Dr. Pepper, or the correct change, and they rock and shake the machine until it falls over on them and it kills them! 

There is a place to be good an angry. We're going to concentrate on the negative side of anger. But there is a holy expression of anger. We are made in the image of God, and there is a time to react rightly to an act of immorality or injustice. God is angry at the wicked all day long. Jesus turned his anger on the temple merchants and those that were in the temple courts. One of the Puritans is right when he said that "We can be angry and sin not, when we are angry at sin alone." In fact, you can't be good if you can't get angry when it is appropriate. Like Martin Luther at the indulgences of the Catholic Church, or Martin Luther King Jr. at the injustices of prejudice and segregation and treatment of minorities.

The context is worth noting because we have a continuing story of the 1st family after their 1st sin and disobedience in the garden. Sin results in the first fratricide in human history. When we stop loving God, we stop loving each other.


The Source of Cain's Anger

What was the ignition point of Cain's anger? Cain and Abel come to the Lord in an act of worship. And God has regard for Abel's sacrifice and has no regard for Cain's. What was the reason? God accepts non-blood sacrifices in other portions of Scripture, so it must be related to Cain's attitude. In Hebrews 11 the author identifies the offering that Abel gave by faith.

What was the source? It couldn't have been his brother. The source of Cain's anger was Cain. The heart of the problem is the problem of his heart. It was due to wounded pride and a bruised ego. He was belittled and diminished in his own mind. Outbursts of anger are the work of the flesh, and we see that in Cain. When we get angry with our wives or our children, we ought to remember that we are the source of our own anger.


The Force of Cain's Anger

Anger is only one letter short of Danger. The book of proverbs likens anger to a flood. When rivers overflow their banks, there is nothing that is spared from its distraction.

This force comes to us in terms of a warning and a wounding. Remember from last night, that the most dangerous point isn't when you sin, it's when God confronts you in His grace, and you don't respond. Sin is crouching at the door, waiting to devour Cain. Sin, by nature, is predatory. It lies in wait for Cain, wanting to take it's vengeance. 1 John 3:11-12 tells us that Cain was influenced by the Wicked One. Sin and Satan are predatory in nature. Eph 4:26. The devil loves to see you upset. We mustn't give Satan a foothold, a beachhead. God gave him a warning, but Cain wasn't listening. God is speaking to us all, warning us to be on guard against our anger. We ought to listen. Cain's simmering anger exploded into an eruption of murder-committing passion. Anger can make a fool and a fiend out of us. Those in our company are at risk of collateral damage. Like a child playing with an unexploded mortar bomb, so are we when we play with anger.


The Course of Cain's Anger

Cain refuses to listen and repent. When confronted by God, he denies any knowledge of the incident. He is boldfaced enough to deny his sin to God. "Am I my brother's keeper?" His brother was a keeper of sheep, and it seems he is even making fun of his brother even just after he had murdered him. Anger registered both in the body and on the body. His whole countenance was changed. Science tells us that angry people die earlier and have poorer health. Sin affects the physical body.

Cain became a murder, and then a fugitive. He walked away from God and his life. Every day, wives lose their husbands and children lose their fathers to the sin of anger.


The Game Plan in the Fight Against Anger

How do we deal with it?

  1. Be tough on yourself. Matt 7:1-5. If you are going to judge someone, make sure you judge yourself. D.L. Moody, "Be soonest angry with yourself." Your biggest problem is you. Take yourself to the woodshed first.
  2. Keep your distance from angry man.
  3. Pick your fights and learn to ignore petty squabbles. Only certain cases get to the supreme court. The lesser courts deal with the majority of the issues. Col 3:12-14 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 forgive. Paul is telling us to forbear some things, the majority of things. Prov 19:11 It is the glory of a man to overlook a fault.
  4. Step back and hold back. When anger rises, delay your reaction. Prov 17:14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. There is merit in the time-honored tradition of counting to ten.
  5. If anger is right, deal with it positively, proportionally, and promptly. Matt 5:21-25 Jesus tells us to Come to terms quickly with your anger. Ephesians 4, close the door.
  6. Watch your mouth and don't escalate the situation through angry responses. A fool tells you everything he wants to tell you. The Bible says don't do that. The more fuel you add to the fire, the worse off you'll be. Prov 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  7. Remember the consequences of anger. Prov 27:4.
  8. Surrender to the transforming power of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. 1 Tim 1:12-17 Paul tells us that he was a blasphemer and a violent man. But God pulled him up and gave him mercy. Col 3:8 But now  you must put them all away:  anger, wrath, malice,  slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. We can put off anger. We must. Stop making excuses. You are the source of your anger, but you can turn to the cross. He who is able to make the lion lie down with the lamb can also transform the lion into the lamb.