Triumphing Over Temper- Part 2
Yesterday we discussed the problem of anger and wrath and what the Bible says about it. I mentioned that by feeding on the Word, praying in the Spirit, and yielding to the Holy Ghost in those moments when He prompts us to choose peace rather than rage, we can be victorious over anger. It takes consistent discipline, or self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit.
Today I want to talk about the root, or source of anger. Anger stems from selfishness, or self-centerness, and pride. And it indicates a lack of love. If we can address the root of something, we can fix whatever is being produced by that root cause.
Selfishness and pride were the source of the devil’s fall, and were introduced to the human race at the fall of Adam. As a result, humans are born self-centered. Each and every person, no matter how nice they seem, is born with the tendency to be concerned more with themselves and what they want more than anyone else. It is the sinful nature to be self-focused, and it is carnal and fleshly. When we are self-centered, we are prideful, thinking that our way is the best way, and that we know more than others. And pride brings impatience and intolerance for others, because we simply cannot figure out how they can fail to be as good as we are. Plain and simple, we get angry and nasty because we are walking in the prideful flesh, rather than the Spirit. And that means we are not producing the right fruit- like love, joy, peace, etc. Galatians 5 says it better than I can.
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:16-26 (New Living Translation, NLT) emphasis mine.
This is telling us that because we are in Christ, the solution to anger, wrath, and outbursts of temper is already in us. We have to allow the Holy Spirit inside us to bring it out from our spirit man, through our soul (our mind, will, and emotions) to manifest the right actions in our bodies. In other words, we are to walk according to the Spirit rather than the flesh. When we stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading, we walk in the Spirit and we do not fulfill the desires of our sinful, natural flesh. As we get deeper and deeper into the Word, as we take time to fast, and as we spend personal time with the Lord in worship, prayer and meditation, we will sense His direction more and more easily. And then, we can allow Him to give us the grace (His divine ability) to do what He asks of us. And as we follow the Holy Spirit, the right stuff will automatically be produced and come out of us. In other words, we transition from producing the fruit of the flesh to producing the fruit of the Spirit. And that takes us from being angry and subject to emotional outbursts, to walking in love, patience, and self-control.
It is a process. Will we mess up along the way? Yes, most likely we will. But, when we do, we can repent and be forgiven, and continue on our journey toward total triumph over temper.