The gospel will transform your life. It will transform every area of your life. It will transform your mind. In times past, your mind was “darkened”, but now it is “renewed” and given the light of truth. In times past, you were a slave to your own feelings and passions, but now, through the help of the Spirit, your affections can be brought under subjection to the will of God.
This emotional aspect of spiritual transformation is what Paul touches on next in his exhortation to the Ephesians. “You have been converted and saved, now, don’t be slaves to your own feelings.” Specifically, he addresses the feeling of anger in the human heart. Although Paul speaks in rather exclusive terms regarding anger, we understand that being converted affects all emotions – anger, love, fear, joy, et.al.
Paul’s warning is a little different than could be expected however. He does not say “don’t be angry.” Rather, he says “be angry.” There are things that can certainly be angering in culture. It is a matter of fact that if you love certain things, then you will be angry at certain other things.
For example, if you love life and children, then you will be angry at the senseless murder of millions of babies every year through corrupt and wicked abortion practices. If you love God and His name, then you will be angry when others seek to misrepresent and mischaracterize Him. With any amount of heart in your chest, you will certainly feel love and reciprocal anger. These kinds of anger are righteous, and it is this righteous anger that Paul commands you to have if you have been converted.
But there is a type of anger that should not be found in any Christian. It is the type of anger that springs from sin and causes sin. This is why Paul says, “Be angry, and sin not.” Many times, anger does not find its moorings in righteousness but in sinfulness. When someone says wrong things about us (or true bad things) and we respond in anger, it is typically not because we are such lovers of truth. Rather, it is because they have challenged our self-image and self-worth, and in pride we think we are so far above their lowly claims. In pride, we respond through sinful wrath.
This type of anger is rooted in the sin of pride and is wrong. It starts with sin, and typically ends in another kind of sin (violence, revenge…). If we have been converted, we do not respond in this way. If the sin of our hearts draws us towards disobedience, we must remember that Christ has changed us and we must fight with everything in us while relying on Christ’s strength to offer us help in our struggle.
And this cleansing and getting right should be a rapid thing. We must not hesitate and allow anger and sin to linger. Paul says it this way, “let not the sun go down” without getting it right. This means that it is never ok to be angry at another and not to seek reconciliation. Jesus made this point of the necessity of immediate reconciliation in both Matthew 5 and Matthew 18, telling his followers to go immediately to those with whom you have problems.
The Christian life is a transformed life. Every area, the actions, the mind, the emotions, all will fall into obedience to the commands of God. Having been converted, the life must change. The reality of this internal change should lead us to a lifestyle of obedience.
Reflect: What is the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger? What can we learn from the phrase, “let not the sun go down” in regards to our frustration and sin-conflicts with others?