Righteous Indignation or Something Else?

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When we become angry toward someone because of their unjust or unworthy manner of acting or speaking, we are letting them know they cannot treat us or others this way. We feel righteously indignant, which is more than okay. Jesus, in fact, became righteously indignant toward the money changers who were attempting to profit off of those coming to worship at the temple (Matthew 21:12–13).

Sometimes, though, we go from righteous indignation to sinful anger. We end up verbally hammering the person.

Jacob used anger to hammer Rachel about being too emotional and unrealistic (Genesis 30:2). And King Solomon noted that when a wife is contentious, she can add anger to get her way (Proverbs 21:19).

Did you know that when righteous indignation turns into sinful anger, that’s when the devil shows up? We read in Ephesians 4:26–27, "Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

More than a marital issue, this has now become a spiritual issue. The devil takes over. Though he does not possess us, we sense we are not ourselves. “Something comes over me when I’m angry” or “I am not myself when I get angry,” we find ourselves realizing. Indeed, when we allow our righteous indignation to become sinful anger, we give “the devil an opportunity.” Satan has a way of working in our carnal flesh contrary to what our inner spirit approves. When this happens, we are not our true selves.

When we choose to hammer our spouse with our sinful anger, Satan uses that as an opportunity to take a foothold with us. This alone should serve as a check on us the next time we criticize and condemn angrily and forcefully.

So the next time an incident arises that fills you with a righteous indignation, how will you take steps to not give the devil a foothold and let it turn into sinful anger?

-Dr. E