THE WRATH OF MAN WORKETH NOT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD [James 1:20]
Of all our emotions there is none that is so corrupted and tainted with our sin as anger. James says to us in chapter 1:20, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Nor is there an emotion which so quickly gets out of control and which rises up within us so quickly. And we do so much to justify our sinful anger. We are like Jonah under the juniper tree when the Lord says, “Doest thou well to be angry, Jonah?” “Yea,” said Jonah, “I do well.” Our anger is so often rooted in ourselves, when our will is thwarted, when our pride is hurt, and when our purposes are obstructed. So the Scriptures say to us in Psalm 37:8, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.”
We must fight a sinful anger, moments of bitterness registered either against God or man in which we become angry. The Scriptures say to us, Let all bitterness and wrath and anger be put away from you (Eph. 4:31). Sometimes we like to sit down in a pool of bitterness. We can begin to wallow in the pool of bitterness. And we become angry. So often our anger is centered in ourselves. The Scriptures say, Let this anger be put away from you, do not let it stay in your hearts.
We must cultivate Christ-like emotions. We must cultivate them in order that we might be like Him. We must be filled then with long-suffering. We must be filled with all meekness and all gentleness. But we must also have a holy anger against that which displeases God. We must learn what it is to be angry at our sins. We must not excuse them, but we must see sin for the offense that it is.
Does your sin upset you? God knows the hearts of all of His children. And God calls us to resist sin in our hearts. Does gross evil upset you in your own life and as you see it around you? Does God-dishonoring doctrine and heresy stir your soul to displeasure? Does profaning of the worship of God stir your soul with displeasure? Not in a fanatic anger. But do you bring the appropriate and reasoned actions from God’s Word as you see sin acted out around you? Let us seek grace that the emotions of a godly anger may yet fill our breasts, an anger which springs from zeal for God and His truth and His glory and His worship.
And when you feel anger arising in your heart which is sinful and fleshly and corrupt, lose not a moment to bring it to the cross that it may be slain in you.
Let us remember that our Savior is the holy Jesus, the Savior who has died for our sins and yet is filled with holy displeasure and anger against all pride and arrogancy.
Let us bring our sins to Him to confess, and let us ask that our hearts too might be filled with a holiness and a zeal for God, that we, too, might show displeasure against sin – sin in us and around us, being like unto Him.
Bro. Carl Haak