Ephesians 4:27
The apostle teaches that we are not to allow the irritations or exasperations of life to become the occasion of sin, that we are not to cherish anger, and that we are not to give scope to Satan by temper which may open the heart to those passions of hatred and revenge that are identified with his operations. The passage teaches -

I. TEXT THERE IS AN ANGER THAT IS NOT SINFUL. This affection is, indeed, implanted in our nature for righteous ends. It arms the passions quickly against evil, and operates with the force and effectiveness of an instinct. If it is mingled with malice, it becomes sinful; but if it is associated with a holy disposition, it is safe and good. Jesus regarded the conduct of the Jews "with anger" (Mark 3:5). Anger is often attributed to God himself (Psalm 7:11), but it can have no sinful elements in the Divine mind. It is, in fact, with anger as it is with hatred. It is a shallow prejudice to shrink from the name and the thing which it signifies, as if it were all and only evil. Jesus hated as well as loved. The two emotions hang for their life upon each other. Love cannot be unless a hearty hate of evil lie beneath. They are but the two sides of one sublime emotion which turns life, so often insipid and dull, into a vivid, balanced, and joyful activity. So it is with anger. Under the inspiration of a holy nature, it may flash forth with a marvelous power against wickedness, untruth, and dishonor.

II. THAT THERE IS AN EASY PASSAGE FROM WHAT IS RIGHT TO WHAT IS WRONG IN THE INDULGENCE OF ANGER. "Be ye angry and sin not." This command implies that it is an easy matter to sin in our anger, and a hard thing to be angry and not to sin. The path of duty affords firm footing to those who keep it; but it is very narrow, and there are dangerous pitfalls on either side. Anger is, therefore, not an operation to be rashly or lightly performed, even when it is a very evil thing against which our displeasure is directed. If it comes often and comes easily, you may suspect the danger that lurks in it. Take care, above all things, that the zeal for righteousness may not plunge you into hatred of your neighbors. "If a glass bottle be full of clean water, though it be stirred there ariseth no mud; but if mud arise when it is stirred, the water was foul in the bottom: so is the spirit of a man foul within that, being stirred, showeth distemper." "Be angry and sin not." You cannot be angry and suffer not. Just as a cannon when discharged recoils heated and begrimed within by the fiery blast that issued from its mouth, the spirit of man is similarly affected even by those discharges of anger that are directed against the most wicked deeds.

III. THAT IT IS HARD TO AVOID SIN IN OUR ANGER IF WE INDULGE IT FOR AN UNDUE LENGTH OF TIME. "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Anger may flash suddenly out from the lips of a good man, but "it resteth in the bosom of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:9). There is a limit even to righteous anger; not that we are not to have a continual anger against sin; but we are not to carry our anger against a brother into the next day. We are not to harbor resentment or keep it rankling in our bosom, lest it should change into downright hatred or revenge.

IV. THAT SATAN TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OUR ANGER TO DO US GREAT HURT. There is an old Latin proverb, "He who goes angry to bed has the devil for a bedfellow." Anger, if cherished, supplies a motive to yield to his evil suggestions. The devil is in full sympathy with a resentful spirit. Yet, though he wields the resources of this world as its god; though he is incarnate in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; he has no power to enter any heart except with the will of its owner. Let not Christians, then, allow that heart, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost, to be opened, in a moment of holy anger, to the intrusive suggestions of the evil one. The counsel of the apostle is well calculated to promote the comfort and the usefulness of life. Let Christians take care that their anger is not without cause, or without measure, or without justice, and that it should not be so inconsistent with love that we cannot pray for those against whom it is directed. - T.C.

Neither give place to the devil.
I. THE DEVIL STRIVES TO GAIN THE MASTERY OVER MAN. He comes into actual contact with us, even against our will. He studies our character. When Napoleon entered fresh territory, he spread a map upon the ground, and upon his knees he pondered it until he made himself familiar with all its features; he knew the rivers with their bridges and fords, the villages and their position in relation to adjacent towns: he then planned his modes of attack. Our dread spiritual adversary has his wiles and stratagems. He watches his victim, acquaints himself with his constitutional infirmities, his temper, appetites, propensities; then constructs his assaults accordingly. In this collision of foeship he sternly resolves to conquer.

II. MAN IS TO SUCCESSFULLY RESIST THE DEVIL. He has the intercession of Christ, and the help of the Holy Spirit — two mighty forces.


1. If the devil gain the day, it means ruin to the soul.

2. Think of the importance of the strife, and strain every nerve for conquest.

(J. D. Tetley.)

The devil is no myth nor bugbear to frighten bad children with, but a real being, and powerful. Most plausible and smooth of tongue, the devil makes the largest promises, but he is a poor paymaster. Old King Canute, the Dane, offered to make him the highest man in England who should murder his hated rival, King Edmund. The bloody deed was done, and the guilty wretch was hanged on the highest tower in London. So Satan promises to bestow upon his wining dupes anything and everything they ask, and the honour which they look for in return proves only shame, and the happiness ends in torment. "Who is the most diligent bishop in all England?" asks old Hugh Latimer, in one of his quaint sermons. "I will tell you: it is the devil. He is the most diligent preacher of all others; he is never out of his diocese; he is ever applying to his business. His office is to hinder religion, to set up idolatry." It is well for us to remember that the Arch-Deceiver is the same that he always was, and he was never more to be dreaded than now. He has access to us in various ways, and he knows how to make the best of his opportunities. The devil is not omnipresent, but carries on his evil work by his countless agents. Here are some of the ways in which people give place to the devil.

1. The soul that is not filled with good thoughts and desires is left empty for the enemy to enter. One night, as St. Anthony sat in his cell, he heard a knocking at the door, and going to see who was there, he beheld a man of terrible aspect, and the monk asked, in alarm, who he was. The stranger answered, "I am Satan; and I come to inquire how it is that thou and thy disciples, whenever ye stray into sin, or any evil befall ye, lay the blame on me, and load me with curses?" St. Anthony answered, with some spirit, "Have we not cause? Dost thou not go about seeking whom thou mayest devour, and tempt and torment us?" The demon retorted, sharply, "It is false; I do none of those things of which men accuse me; it is their own fault. They allure each other to sin; they torment and oppress each other; they go about seeking occasions to sin, and then they weakly lay the blame at my door. Since God came upon earth, and was made man to redeem man, I have no arms, no dwelling place. Let men complain of themselves, not of me." Ah, how mortifying the truth, my friends, that we as often tempt the devil as he tempts us!

2. Another way in which people put themselves in the power of the Great Adversary is by yielding to spiritual indolence. Industry and watchfulness distinguish all real Christians. As soon as they become indolent, they cease to be on their guard against the enemy of souls. Among the disciples of Hillel, the wise teacher of Israel, was one who gave himself up to idleness. The good rabbi was grieved, and resolved to cure him of it. He accordingly took him to the valley of Hinnom, by Jerusalem, where was a standing pool, full of loathsome reptiles, and covered with muddy weeds. "Here," said Hillel, "let us rest." "Not here," cried the youth; "dost thou not see what poisonous vapours it exhales?" "Thou art right, my son," replied the rabbi; "and this bog is like the soul of the slothful!" This is as true of things spiritual as of things temporal. "Because iniquity shall abound," says our blessed Lord, "the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). "The atmosphere of sin is poisonous to everything sacred; but the first thing which it especially acts upon is love. Love is the tenderest of all plants of heaven."

3. Another favourable opportunity which Christians too often give to Satan to do them serious mischief, is the absorbing attention which they pay to their worldly business. "I have just seen a beautiful picture," said one business man to another, after the cares of the day were done. "What was it?" "It was a landscape. The conception is most beautiful, and the execution well nigh perfect. You must be sure to go and see it before it is removed." "And so have I seen a fine picture today," said the other. "Indeed! What was it?" "I received notice this morning that there was great suffering in a certain family, and as soon as I could leave my business, I went to see what could be done. I climbed up to the garret where the poor family was sheltered, and as I was about to knock at the door, I heard a voice in prayer. When it ceased, I entered the wretched apartment, and found a young merchant, whose store I had just been in, and whose business I knew to be very pressing. Yet he had left it, and spent some time in personal labours for the comfort of the sick and suffering, and when I arrived, he was praying with the family, preparatory to his taking his leave. I asked him how he could afford the time, at such a busy season, to engage in these merciful offices, and he told me that the ease of these poor sufferers had been made known to several professing Christians, who had given no heed to it. 'It is not absolutely necessary,' he added, 'that I should make money; but it is necessary that the honour of Christ should be maintained.'" I dare say you have seen some fine pictures in the attractive windows of our print shops, but have you observed one finer than this? Oh, my friends, you who, by your absorbing devotion to worldly business, are, in fact, "giving place to the devil," I pray you take time to examine this picture well, and if you admire it, try to furnish one like it. Dr. Judson once sent for a poor Christian convert, in India, who was about to engage in some enterprize which he feared would not be for her spiritual good. "Look here," he said, snatching a ruler from the table, and tracing a crooked, zigzag line upon the floor, "here is where you have been walking. You have been out of the path half the time, but then you have kept near it, and not taken to new roads, and you have, to a certain extent, grown in grace; and now here you stand. You know where this path leads. You know what is before you: some struggles, some sorrows, and, finally, eternal life and a crown of glory. To the left, branches off another very pleasant road, and along the air floats rather temptingly a pretty bubble. You do "not mean to leave the path you have walked in for so many years; you only purpose to step aside, and catch the bubble, and think you will come back; but you never will!" The lesson proved effectual in her case, and oh, my brethren, holding your eternal destiny in the balance, I pray God that it may not be unavailing in yours!

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

"Neither give place to the devil." How, then, can we most effectually resist him?

1. Think of the promises of your heavenly Father; the purpose of His eternal love; the perfect and glorious attributes of His nature, all of which are engaged in your behalf.

2. Think of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the wondrous work which He has done and is still doing for you. These thoughts will strengthen your resolutions to resist the devil.

3. Prayer should be your defence in the hoar of trial.

4. Then, think finally on the cruelty, malignity, and final destiny of the devil.

(W. Graham, D. D.)

One sin keeps up the devil's interest; it is like a nest egg left there to draw a new temptation.

(T. Manton, D. D.)By allowing one sin, we disarm and deprive ourselves of having a conscientious argument to defend ourselves against any other sin. He that can go against his conscience in one, cannot plead conscience against any other; for if the authority of God awes him from one, it will from all. "How can I do this, and sin against God?" said Joseph. I doubt not but his answer would have been the same if his mistress had bid him to lie for her, as now when she enticed him to lie with her. The ninth commandment would have bound him as well as the seventh. Hence the apostle exhorts "not to give place to the devil." Implying, by yielding to one, we lose our ground, and what we lose he gains; and let him alone to improve advantages. The little wimble once entered, the workman can then drive a great nail. One sin will widen thy swallow a little, that thou wilt not so much strain at the next.

(W. Gurnall.)One sin inclineth the mind to more. If one thief be in the house, he will let in the rest, because they have the same disposition and design.

(R. Baxter.)

1. We may be sure of this, that the devil never means good, but always evil.

2. The more we yield to the influence of Satan, the further he will press his authority, and the more complete will be his dominion over us.

3. No one is obliged to yield to him. We can conquer if we will.

(Homiletic Hints.)

The Arabs have a fable to this effect. A miller was one day startled by a camel's nose thrust through the window of the room where he was sleeping. "It is very cold outside," said the camel; "I only want to get my nose in." The nose was let in, then the neck, finally the whole body. Presently the miller began to be inconvenienced at the ungainly companion he had obtained, in a room certainly net large enough for both. "If you are inconvenienced, you may leave," said the camel; "as for myself, I shall stay where I am."

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