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Part of the war within that James talked about (James 4:1-3) is a complexity of interrelated fears, shame, and guilt that churns inside the angry person. These were the first outpourings from Adam’s heart, shortly after he chose not to do things God’s way (Genesis 3:6-12). If you decide to do things your way, you, like Adam, will walk away from the Lord. This kind of rebellion makes you the functional “god” over your life.
If you ever tried to rely on yourself rather than the Lord, you know how hard it is to be the functional god of your life (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). You cannot do God’s job. You cannot control all outcomes, which is why anger becomes a “go to” tool in the arsenal of the weak individual.
This self-centered worldview is typically learned early in the angry person’s life. Perhaps as a child, he figured out how to manipulate his parents by using childish anger to bend the parents to fill his craving heart.
Maybe his parents resisted, which was his cue to stiffen his will and double-down his effort. His unmet desire morphed into a pouting demand, which was the pivotal moment in the parent/child relationship.
If they caved to his idolatrous demands, they would find it harder to resist him in the future. This kind of parental capitulation to a child’s will shapes him to become the god of his universe. Rather than developing his heart toward the Lord, they set the child on the throne of his heart (and the family). Their home becomes child-centered. The kid’s twisted mind and self-centered deductions would convince him that he’s the sole arbiter of how things ought to be.
I am describing what a functional god worldview looks like for an angry idolator. Somebody has to be a god, so his childlike arrogance dupes him into believing he is the only one worthy of that mantle.
Index Forward: Now he’s an adult. The angry man is a bigger version of the kid sitting on the floor throwing a tantrum, manipulating others to get what he wants. It’s the same anger, born out of a similar insecurity (fear). His unbridled Adamic nature has now morphed into a habit, a way of life. He may be a Christian, but he brought his former manner of life into his Christian experience (Ephesians 4:22). Anger is the portal that permits him to access his desires.
The War Within
There is a thin line between making demands out of fear (“I’m not going to get what I want.”) and making demands out of habit. A child not parented well will learn how to satiate his fears through anger. If he continues down that path, it will become his habituation (Galatians 6:1-2). Anger is the means to get what his heart craves.
As you look back on his life, you will see how his habituated anger has worked for him. There will be a string of broken relationships his anger has carved up. “Gods” of your making are not cooperating idols. Those so-called “gods” will devastate your relationships and incarcerate your soul.
Sinful anger has a twist of irony. He appears to be strong and in charge. His bellowing convinces you of his power. The truth is that the angry man is weak, broken, and insecure.
It takes no strength to submit to a habituated way of life to blow up at someone. It takes a lot of strength to submit yourself to the power of the Holy Spirit while walking under His influence and control (Galatians 5:22-23).
The angry person never learns this lesson from the Spirit. Though he has human power (anger), he does not have spiritual power (Spirit) that controls his human power. The book of Proverbs gives us insight regarding this lack of “spiritual power over your human power” problem.
The person who is slow to anger is submitting his human power to the strength of the Spirit (James 1:19). Fallen Adamic anger needs God’s power to harness it. If not, it will pour over the dam of your heart and hurt people. The angry individual is weaker than he realizes.
Let Me Illustrate: Imagine the cap of a fire hydrant popping off. The cap is weaker than the force of the water. If the cap could withstand the force of the water, it would be stronger than the force of the water.
Ultimately, the angry man shows his lack of submission to the Holy Spirit–the only One who can speak peace into his heart. In such a case, to be sinfully angry is to be without God, which makes this kind of person dangerous.
The angry individual is so elevated in his mind that he cannot see the entanglements of his heart. Thinking you are somebody that you are not will cut you loose from the moorings of Christ and motivate you to unleash your anger on anyone who does not do as you please. Christ is the only solution but seeing Him is hard from such a lofty perch (James 4:6).