How can a person be angry and yet not sin?


Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).

It’s entirely possible for a person to get angry and yet not sin. Jesus is the perfect example when he went up to Jerusalem (John 2:13) and at the temple courts found people making the temple a mere marketplace (John 2:14). This angered him! He made a whip and drove the abusers from the temple courts (John 2:15-16). Jesus was angry, but he didn’t sin (Jas. 1:13; cf. Heb. 13:8). As Hebrews 4:15 states, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

David, who wrote Psalm 4, provides another example, and it is actually the background for Ephesians 4:26 above. In this Psalm David says, "Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah." The Hebrew word for "be angry" is ragaz and means to "be agitated." This is related to orgizo, the Greek word Paul uses in Ephesians 4:26.

In Psalm 4:1 David calls out to God. He seems to be concerned with people spreading falsehoods about him (Psa. 4:2). He knows the Lord hears him (Psa. 4:3), and he affirms that a person can be bothered (angry) and not sin because God hears and delivers his people (Psa. 4:4). Completely trusting in the Lord gives ultimate assurance, so a sinful reaction isn’t necessary (Psa. 4:5-8). While bad people may have been mistreating him, David knew God’s face (blessings) was shining down upon him (Psa. 4:6). He was resting in the strength of the Lord (Psa. 4:8). There is no need for sinful anger (Psa. 4:4).

Anger is acceptable if it does not result in sin. Like David we should not let the sun go down on our anger (Eph. 4:26; cf. Psa. 4:8). Ungodly anger doesn’t achieve the righteousness of God (Jas. 1:20). Faith in God during the storms of life allows us to rise above the destructive waves of sinful anger.

Related Topics

How does temptation work? Good Temptation? Could Jesus Sin? Correct Order of Jesus' Wilderness Temptations

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).