Dec 27, 2015 | David Crosby

The Grinch of Anger

Intro: Did you get rid of anything when you climbed into your attic to get the Christmas decorations? I threw away the box in which we stored the old Christmas tree that we are using for the last time this Christmas. We will buy a new one in the after-Christmas sales.

We all have something to get rid of. And we need to get rid of all of it. This something is described with six words in verse 31: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice. All of these have to go, and they have to go all the way.

Anger is Part of Your Past:

“Get rid of all” (Eph. 4:31)


The Greeks in Ephesus displayed plenty of anger along with a lot of other unpleasant and ungodly attitudes as described in Eph. 4:17-19. Paul’s description of these Gentiles and their way of life is bleak and sobering.

  • They were living in the “futility of their thinking” (v17)
  • They were darkened in their understanding. Our new understanding is in Christ himself. He is the light.
  • They were separated from the life of God (v18).
  • They were hardening their hearts and had lost all sensitivity (v18-19).
  • They gave themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity (v19). They gave up on resisting these self-destructive actions and attitudes. They released their moral inhibitions and plunged into a life without God.
  • They were full of greed (v19). This is the summation of his description of the culture in Ephesus. We must remember that Paul preached the gospel in Ephesus. He stayed there for more than two years. He founded a powerful church. The businessmen who sold idols began to suffer losses and caused a riot.

“You must no longer live as the Gentiles do” (Eph. 4:17).

  • Paul insisted on this “in the Lord.”
  • This “is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20).
  • You were part of that culture once and you lived out its beliefs and ideals. But that is no longer who you are.


Put Off the Old You:

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self”


There is an old you that plays old tapes in your brain and that is reinforced by the culture around you in so many ways.

  • It is the person you used to be before you met Christ.
  • It is the lifestyle and worldview out of which you were delivered.
  • It is futility and emptiness and vanity and falsehood, and you know it.

You’ve got to throw it off.

  • This is the word used to describe how they laid down their coats to stone Stephen (Acts 7:58, apotithemi).
  • It is the word in Hebrews 12:1: “Lay aside every weight” or “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”
  • It is used here and in Colossians 3 to describe what we must do concerning this previous way of life that we may have learned from our forefathers are that we are picking up in the culture around us.


  • Paul is writing to people who have known Christ for years. Yet they are in need of this kind of instruction. Even when you have been in Christ a long time, you are still in danger of falling back into old sins.
  • These may be your besetting sins, the sin that so easily entangles you.
  • You put this life aside when you trusted in Christ. But you may have put that old coat back on since then. Those patterns are hard to change. Those habits are hard to break. The Holy Spirit is at work in you, and you know the new you. But it’s so easy to fall back into these behaviors. We pick up a garment that we used to wear, and we try it on to see if it will fit. Maybe it doesn’t fit us anymore, but we think it fits the situation or the weather.


Put On the New You:

“put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths

  • Our speech can be poisonous.
  • Anger so often produces unwholesome, unhealthy talk.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God

  • God is trying to do something in you. He is reordering your life, adjusting your attitudes and behaviors.
  • Do not resist his work in you. As hard as it may be, we are Jesus people. We must conform to the work of the Spirit.
  • We have learned “the truth that is in Jesus” (v21). This is the way, and we must walk in it.

Get rid of all: bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. All of these are connected to anger.

  • Anger is the devil's foothold in your life. “Do not give the devil a foothold” is a comment on anger in vs. 26-27.
  • Behaviors we observed as children are hard to change.
  • I am glad my home as a child was full of peace, not anger. We observed very little anger in our parents. The moments of anger stand out prominently because they were rare.

Put on the new you.

  • I was modeling some coats for my daughter. Janet was taking pictures of me holding them up and sending them to Rachel. I noticed the mannequins were all sanguine, expressionless. So as I changed coats, I mimicked the mannequins—stone-faced, staring straight ahead. Rachel posted it on Facebook, mind you. I got many rave revues as a coat model.

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