InTouch.org with Dr. Charles Stanley
Saturday & Sunday, October 23 & 24, 2010
Read | Ephesians 4:26-27
Unity of the Spirit
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended” –what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The Christian’s Walk
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let 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. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And 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. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Yesterday we learned how to deal with lingering anger in our lives. Today we’ll discover God’s principle for preventing long-term resentment. The key is to deal with this dangerous emotion promptly.
It’s important to realize that believers can have moments of anger and still remain right with God. Yet anger that is allowed to linger and fester is an opportunity for Satan. He quickly plants justifications in our mind: That person deserves to be yelled at. You shouldn’t be treated that way! God understands that you’re frustrated. By handing people excuses to build a defense for harboring fury, Satan creates a stronghold in their lives. It is a foolish man or woman who hides behind that wall (Eccl. 7:9).
We are not to lay even one brick for the Devil’s stronghold. Instead, believers must respond to provocation by forgiving others as God forgives. His mercy is unconditional; there’s no wrong that He does not pardon. Believers cannot stand before God and justify harboring long-term anger. So we must release it at once through forgiveness.
We can further protect ourselves by identifying frequent irritants. When those situations (or people) loom, we should pray that God makes us quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). That is the spiritual fruit of self-control in action.
Anger produces only rotten fruit—sour relationships, a poor witness, etc. The wise believer takes a two-fold approach to dealing with it. First, heed the Bible’s 300-plus warnings about this dangerous emotion and be vigilant against it. And second, forsake your anger in favor of forgiveness.