It is written:
“BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
The idea of unchecked anger giving “place” to the devil and other evil spirits was a common one in first century Judaism, as well as in the writings of early Christians.
Arnold has documented:
“”The danger of persistent anger lies in the fact that the devil will exploit it for his own purposes….Although it is possible to take this term in the metaphorical sense of “chance” or “opportunity,” 13 it is best interpreted according to its spatial significance of “place.” 14 This is in accord with the fact that spatial language abounds in this letter, especially as illustrated by Paul’s frequent use of the language of “filling” (; 3: 19; 4: 10; 5: 18) and indwelling (2: 22; 3: 17). It is also significant that the term “place” is used elsewhere in the NT to refer to the inhabiting place of an evil spirit. Luke records Jesus as saying, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places () seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left’ ” (Luke 11: 24). A similar usage is found in the Apocalypse: “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place () in heaven” (Rev 12: 7–8). First-century Judaism saw anger as a magnet that attracted the working of an evil spirit: “Anger and falsehood together are a double-edged evil, and work together to perturb the reason. And when the soul is continually perturbed, the Lord withdraws from it and Beliar rules it” (T. Dan 4: 7; see also 5: 1). In fact, the same work speaks of a “spirit of anger” that attacks the people of God (T. Dan 1: 8; 2: 1, 4). The earliest allusions to Eph 4: 27 interpret “place” spatially and speak of anger and sinful practices as making one susceptible to the work of a demonic spirit (see Herm. Mand. 5.1.3; 12.5.1–4; Origen, Princ. 2.3.4)….By allowing anger to fester and grow, believers can surrender space to a demonic intruder. This is how Origen understood this passage. He warned believers that by thinking intently about and following the wrong inclinations of the soul, “these assents summon the devil to enter our souls” (citing Judas as an example; John 13: 2, 27). 15 Similarly, Ambrosiaster notes, “An angry mind will necessarily think evil thoughts, as the devil desires. If the devil finds a mind ready for evil and slipping toward it, he deceives the person who was created for life. The thought, you see, is human. But the devil completes it.” 16 Calvin notes, “I have no doubt that Paul was warning us to beware lest Satan should take possession of our minds, like an enemy-occupied fortress, and do whatever he pleases.” 17 Similarly, Robinson warned that persisting anger “gives immediate opportunity for the entry of an evil spirit.”…O’Brien is probably correct in observing that this warning not only provides a motivation for controlling anger, but is equally applicable to any behavior that is characteristic of the old self. 19 The implication of this would be that unchecked sinful behavior will eventually yield a place to the enemy to further his goals of stunting the sanctifying work of God.” (Clinton E. Arnold, Ephesians: Zomdervan Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament, 8242-8277 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)
Satan and his forces look for emotional openings in our life through which they may exploit and attack us. This is why Paul’s admonition here is so powerful: we must not allow ourselves to be consumed with anger, but must work to deal with it quickly and efficiently.
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