As we heed Paul’s example to practice such therapy by Christ’s strength in Philippians 4, we can trust we will have His peace that is not of this angry world and transforms us like the man called Legion: clothed, unchained, sitting still, quiet, and in our right mind.
To understand anger and its peaceful Biblical therapies, we make use of the Puritan John Downame’s book, The Cure of Unjust Anger. Downame focuses on Ephesians 4:26 to frame his discussion: Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
Downame describes anger as, “…an affection in which someone is moved to retaliation in response to a perceived injury or injustice. The injury in question may be either a true injustice or only an injury in one’s perception, and it may be an injury against oneself or one’s friends, relatives, or some other group.”
Discussing the Greek words that denote a displeasure for offense or a desire for retaliation, he emphasizes the main Old Testament word for anger, apf, meaning literally the flaring of the nose. The word is ascribed to the LORD Himself, such as in Exodus 4:14 and Numbers 11:1 (see also Romans 1:18, Mark 3:5 and John 2:13-17). This connection leads to an important qualification: not all initial anger is unjust if it has a legitimate cause and response (Matthew 5:22). Downame explains: “We do not condemn all expressions of anger without making distinctions between them. For no matter how turbulent and pernicious this affection is when it is corrupted, we must hold that the natural affection itself, as created by God and to whatever degree it is renewed and sanctified by God’s spirit, is just, holy, and lawful.”
Next, Downame transitions to unjust anger with the second part of Ephesians 4:26. Though we are first told to “be angry” in holy indignation, we are then warned to “sin not”, for in verse 27, Paul warns that the Devil will get a foothold in us, as Downame explains, by an immoderate rejoinder, a misplaced offense or retributive motive, or by indulging sinfully while justifying it to ourselves.