Cost of an Angry Spirit (Matthew #21)

Text: Matthew 5:21-26

The broad point of the following verses is this: the law was only able to go so far, but it couldn’t regulate the spirit or the heart.  God is concerned with the spirit and the heart of the person. And while the outside can appear right, the inside can be a complete wreck at the same time.  The Lord Jesus Christ is going to deal with matters of the heart and of the spirit and he’s going to show you how those matters of the heart and spirit betray themselves in everyday examples.

Now, everyone here is familiar with your temper getting out of control and you doing something you regret.  What you hopefully learned from that episode is that an uncontrolled angry spirit is more expensive than you can afford.  That is the specific point of these verses.

The law’s jurisdiction (vs 21)

  • Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13) is the sixth commandment.
  • Numbers 35:16-25, the Lord gave examples to distinguish between murder and accidental death.  This commandment has to do with murder and not self defense, accidental death or war. The distinction between murder and accidental death was, therefore, primarily hatred or enmity, because that would be the motive for the killing.
  • The law was only able to physically measure obedience.  The law would identify measurable crime. …whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But it wasn’t able to measure the spirit before the crime was committed.  It could only attempt to measure it after a crime was committed.
  • Proverbs 16:2 …the LORD weigheth the spirits.
  • Most people can say, I’ve never killed anyone.  We say we’re not under the law, we’re under grace, but Jesus Christ doesn’t loosen the law, he tightens it up.  
  • BEING right is much harder than LOOKING right.

The Lord’s judgment (vs 22)

  • But I say unto you…
  • Uncleanness within
    • The Lord Jesus Christ is describing righteousness internally; he’s talking about a sanctification of the Spirit.  This spiritual cleanliness is absolutely necessary.
    • The Lord Jesus Christ is going to show the disciples that an unclean angry spirit inside of them will get them into trouble with the law and in addition keep them in trouble with the Lord.  Allow an angry unclean spirit to control your thoughts and attitudes, it will cost you.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ….because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
    • 1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
    • The HOLY Spirit is holy
  • Unjustified anger
    • Without cause is unjustified anger and that is important because being angry is not a sin, but being angry without a cause is devilish.
    • Another word for it may be cruelty – anger without a cause.
    • The first time the phrase shows up it is with the devil.  Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
    • NIV and other versions remove this phrase
      • and make Jesus Christ a sinner when he turns over the tables of the money changers in the temple.
      • and make the holy Spirit a liar when he says “Be ye angry” in Ephesians.
      • The NASB foolishly says, Matthew 5:22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
  • Unsafe spirit
    • You do what you can to nurse that feeling.  You feed it. You justify revenge. Payback consumes your thoughts.
    • You forgot, James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
    • This nourishment will come from someone close that feeds you information that helps that anger grow.  Sometimes a spouse. A wife who is in other people’s business feeding her unstable husband all the ways people hurt her.  A child who lies about being hurt so they don’t get into trouble and can make another child look guilty.
    • Proverbs 14:17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…  And the devil knows what strings to pull.
      • The next phrase that is very important to note is “in danger of”.  This is not a promise of judgment, but it is a warning against an unclean angry spirit.
      • You see a Christian doing more for the Lord than you are and immediately this unclean angry spirit rises up inside you, but just as that happens the Lord fires a shot across your bow as a warning.  You better take the wheel and not let this thing control your next steps.
      • Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
      • All this talk about a wall these days.  The implication is obvious. You have no defense.  The enemies will possess your land without any obstacles.
      • You’ve given place to a devil, the enemy.  Look at Ephesians 4:26-27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
      • It is not a sin to be angry.  Feelings are normal. When emotions are based on the truth, they are in their proper place.
    • Unjustified and unrestrained will lead to sin and judgment.
      • That spirit becomes an idol
      • Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
      • You say, I can’t stop feeling this way.  If that’s the case, then you don’t have to act on your feelings.  But you’re probably feeling a certain way about someone because of the information your choosing to believe about them and the thoughts you’re choosing to have about them.  You need to put some walls on what you’re letting into your mind.
      • Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger…
      • That spirit begins to take its toll on your health.
        • Mental health as well as physical health.
        • Do you remember King Saul?  His cruel wrath against David led him to spiral out of control.
      • That spirit begins to cost you socially
        • Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.
        • Proverbs 21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
        • Someone who constantly throws a fit, it gets old to be around them.
        • People get tired of the emotional whiplash that comes out of nowhere.
        • Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
    • The applications
      • Angry without a cause…in danger of the judgment
      • Say to his brother Raca…in danger of the council (judicial group because an accusation has been made)
      • Say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
      • So there can be earthly, legal consequences for coming unglued and there can be eternal consequences for coming unglued.  You say, does this mean someone is losing their salvation?! No one has gone to hell yet, but this transgression will be on their record and affect their life if they don’t get a grip.

The lessons (vss 23-26)

  • This unclean angry spirit has the potential to cost you with God and cost you here on this earth.
  • You need to notice that what a person offers to God isn’t the thing that makes him right with God.  The Lord says reconcile, then I’ll accept what you’ve brought.
  • 1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
  • 1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
    • Then the Lord makes another earthly illustration about how expensive an angry spirit can be in verses 25-26.
    • Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ….because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
    • 1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied