Holy Anger...The Missing Key in Repentance

How is it that many of us Christians are so incredibly slow when it comes to transforming our minds and actions? Why do we tend to stay “hung-up” instead of moving on? What is missing? I believe we have overlooked an essential ingredient in lasting change—HOLY ANGER. Not unrighteous anger, but holy indignation which is an essential element for lasting transformation. 

Paul wrote a stern rebuke to the Corinthians. There was a man among their number who was living immorally. The church had gone passive and failed to confront the situation (sound familiar?). So Paul writes a severe letter which got their attention. Here in 2 Cor. 7 we gain insight into this vital matter of change. Note these inspired words…

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner…

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of… ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you (vv. 8-12).

It took strong words from a caring apostle to shake up and stir the Corinthians to action. This sorrowing after a “Godly sort” was the needed change agent to get these believers back in step with the Spirit. But look carefully at the things that preceded this repentance:

They became desperate and distraught over their indolence. Public sin was bringing shame on the character of God and His church, yet they had done nothing to rectify the situation. Now after this stinging indictment they were roused. Note carefully that holy anger arose in their hearts. “Indignation" in this context refers to an anger growing out of a love for right and a hate for wrong. This was not a hate-filled vengeance, but a vengeance to execute righteousness. They were upset! Compelled to confront this grievance, they dealt firmly with the offender. Their intense feelings were not only to him as a person, but at its heart a reverent hatred toward the destructive nature of sin. There was a tremendous zeal to call this man back into a right standing with God. How could they stand idly by while such abomination was being done to the holy name of God? Only when they were “cut to the heart” were they moved out of passivity and complacency. It was Holy Anger that brought about God-honoring repentance. Could this be the missing ingredient in a man-centered, compromised, and complacent church-ianity?

Let’s face it, you will never change what you are willing to tolerate. Unless you get “good and angry” at your sin and self, you will not change. I have heard it said that Christians should never get angry—TELL THAT TO THE CORINTHIANS!  Nothing godly would have corresponded at Corinth were it not for their sanctified rage.

There is a time and place to become wholly disgusted with our toleration of besetting sins. Be it anger, worry, unbelief, impatience, slander, evil speaking, pride, insecurity (fear of man), lust, addictions, pornography, bad habits, sensuality, greed, discontentment, laziness, gluttony, racism, lack of love or whatever else that is contrary to holiness. When we walk in “the fear of the Lord”, a zeal for God and His honor will overshadow our hearts. When this holy hatred of iniquity is reigning in our souls we do not want to sin! “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13).

Through the years I have found myself angry at politics, the government, and others. Of late, I have found an antagonism mounting in my heart toward my complacency toward my own sins.

When did you last sense a holy hatred rising up in your heart because of your disobediences? The conviction of God which provokes holy anger is the key to lasting change. Are you tired of defeat? Are you sick of a mediocre walk? Are you eager to live up to your privileges as a child of the LIVING God?

Your future can be predicted by your willingness to change. No one will “pluck out eyes” or “cut off hands” apart from righteous indignation.

There is a lot of “grace talk” that takes the edge off of evil. But it takes both “grace and TRUTH” to overcome sin. Only the Cross can break the power of cancelled sin. Only the Holy Spirit can conquer self.  And, only those who possess a God-empowered zeal for righteousness and a burning indignation toward their “pet sins” will find lasting freedom.

Are you in need of a repentance you will not regret? Then go through with God, and let Him work this holy anger in the depths of your being. This is the pathway to a holy heart and a holy life.

Harold Vaughan

March 2016

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  1. You will never allow God to change something until you are willing to stop tolorating it! This is so true. The turning from the sin, not the people is so needed in out culture today. If the one sinning turns from us, that clearly is their decision, however everywhere this is addressed in the Bible the focus is on the christian being prepared to receive them when the start back and come back. Love righteousness and hate iniquity. If you like wearing soggy socks, and you tolerate it, you soon will be wallowing in knee deep water. Then the only think sticking up will be your hand out of the sewer- and i hope someone sees it them.

    Reply to Ben Burks
  2. God has brought to me a Holy and Righteous anger since this years MPA with Dave Young's first message on Thursday night about the "little" sins we excuse or try to ignore that keep us from being "Spirit Filled" which is the key to living a Christ centered life for apart from Him we can do nothing but fail and fall short. Thank you for staying the course and organizing the MPA every year. 4 years and counting/waiting for the next! Your Brother in Christ, Eric Daniels

    Reply to Eric Daniels