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ANGER AND BITTERNESS

The following is a sample lesson from the Self-Confrontation manual.
Portions copied with permission from Biblical Counseling Foundation.

Self-Confrontation
BCF Self-Confrontation Manual



LESSON 11: ANGER AND BITTERNESS

Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness (based on John 14:15; Romans 5:3-5, 8:28-29; Ephesians 4:31; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 1 John 5:3).

I. The purposes of this lesson are:

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES: ANGER AND BITTERNESS

I. God’s View    
  (Principle 45)
    Anger (great displeasure, animosity) that is quickly aroused or quickly expressed is a characteristic of your old self apart from Jesus Christ and is contrary to Scripture (Galatians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:8; James 1:19-20). Bitterness is related to anger and demonstrates a great dissatisfaction with God’s sovereignty in your life. Bitterness arises out of living to please self instead of living to please the Lord (Acts 8:18-23; Romans 3:10-18, esp. vs. 14) and causes much trouble (Hebrews 12:15)
     
II. Your Hope    
  (Principle 46) Since God’s Word Commands you to put away anger and bitterness (Psalm 37:8; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8), it is possible to do so (I Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15-16).
  (Principle 47) You do not need to defend or preserve what you perceive to be your “rights” (based on Psalm 37:23, 84:11-12; I Peter 2:19-25), because God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him (Romans 8:28-29).
     
III. Your Change    
  (Principle 48) You are to control your spirit (Proverbs 25:28), be slow to anger (James 1:19), and deal with anger quickly (Ephesians 4:26-27). You are to put off anger, wrath, bitterness, quick-temperedness, dissension, abusive speech, and strife; and you are not to take into account a wrong suffered (Matthew 5:21-22: I Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 2:8; Titus 1:7). Instead, you are to put on patience, kindness, humility, bearing with one another, tenderheartedness, forgiveness, love, and self-control (Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-14).
     
IV. Your Practice    
  (Principle 49) List the circumstances or relationships in which you are (or have been) tempted to become angry or bitter (based on Proverbs 9:6, 14:16; Matthew 7:1-5; Galatians 5:16-21). Develop a plan for overcoming anger or bitterness in those situations and formulate a contingency plan for dealing with anger or bitterness that may arise quickly or unexpectedly (based on Proverbs 28:13; Ephesians 4:26-27; I Thessalonians 5:22; II Timothy 2:15, 22; James 1:19, I Peter 1:13-16). As you rely on God’s power and do what you have planned to avoid further sin with regard to anger or bitterness (James 1:22-25, 4:17).
  (Principle 50) Practice biblical love (Proverbs 10:12; I Corinthians 13:4-8a; I Peter 1:22, 4:8, I John 4:11) by forgiving others just as God has forgiven you (Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13) and by doing kind and tenderhearted deeds to the very individuals with whom you become irritated (Ephesians 4:32; I Peter 3:8-9).


UNBIBLICAL RESPONSES TO ANGER AND BITTERNESS

At times, you may try to justify your anger by saying, “God was angry (Numbers 25:4) and Jesus was angry (Mark 3:5), so I can be angry too.” However, God is perfectly holy, and you are not. His holiness, justice, love, and perfection remain constant even though He is jealous (Exodus 20:5), has wrath (II Chronicles 28:11). Exercise vengeance (Roman 12:19), and is indignant every day (Psalm 7:11). Unlike God, your flesh is in continual conflict between good and evil (Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:17). As a result, you will have difficulty respond to emotionally-charged situations without sinning.

I. Some example from Scripture of unbiblical deeds resulting from anger and bitterness
Cain, in his anger, killed his brother. As a result, he became a vagrant and a wanderer (Genesis 4:5-8, 11-12).
Naaman became furious and refused to follow a simple command in order to be healed of leprosy. However, when he finally obeyed, he was healed (II Kings 5:10-14).
Simon, in his bitterness, tried to buy the authority of God and was openly rebuked by Peter (Acts 8:14-24).
   
II. Some unbiblical ways of dealing with anger and bitterness
You explode in a rage or temper, striking out physically or verbally at people or things (this disregards Proverbs 16:32; Matthew 7:12; Romans 14:19; I Corinthians 13:4-5; Galatians 5:19-20, 22-23; Colossians 3:17).
You express anger outwardly (“ventilate your anger”) by beating a pillow (or another inanimate object while thinking or (speaking) about the person with whom you are angry or bitter (this disregards Psalms 19:14; II Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 2:3-4, 4:8-9; Colossians 3:2).
You deny (“internalize”) that you are angry or bitter (this disregards Ephesians 4:15, 25; James 3:14, 5:16; I John 1:8-10).
   
III. Some unbiblical justification for anger or bitterness
You claim that others and /or their actions are responsible for your anger or bitterness (this disregards Ezekiel 18:20; Mark 7:20-23; I Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-14).



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