Anger: The Devil’s Open Door
"Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." (Ephesians 4:26, 27)
How can we know when we have transgressed and allowed righteous anger to become sinful?
The Apostles uses the word orgízō when he says, "Be angry in verse 26. It expresses a "fixed anger" (settled opposition). It is to show firm opposition and is positive when inspired by God. However, it becomes a sin when arising from the flesh. The flesh takes things personal, things that belong to God alone.
Paul further admonishes us, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger." Sinful anger is unnecessary because it focuses on punishing the offender rather than the moral content of the offense. The real problem with judgment at times is it can move us into an arena where we don't belong. It is necessary to make judgments, and even vital is to be discerning. Jesus commanded us; this is not an option, "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother." (Matthew 18:15)
The second word for anger is parorgismós in Greek as is defined irritation. It is to be exasperated and become bitter. It is to be provoked by someone causing a personal and "up-close" sense of anger. It is then that we overstep our bounds as if the offense were against us. It was David who said, "...against you and you only have I sinned." David sinned against many, many people; the problem is sinning against God, who is the creator and the source of all righteousness and holiness; sinning against sinners is of no consequence by comparison.
Do Not Give the Devil an Opportunity
The Devil in verse 27 is diabolos in Greek, which means slanderous or to accuse falsely. He endeavors to condemn to sever a relationship. Diabolos is literally someone who "casts through," i.e., making charges that bring down and destroy. Jesus' words to the disciple and soon-to-be the Apostle were, "Get behind me, Satan." Paul informs us, "And do not give the devil an opportunity. Opportunity is Topos in Greek and defined by any portion of space marked off as a city or the condition or station held by one in any company or assembly. Hence it gives the devil, of all beings, the occasion for acting. When we overstep our bounds in judgment, no matter how correct we are, we provide the devil authority over our state of being, and that is never a good thing.
If you ever wonder why you can't get control over sin, you might want to check your anger.