"Can Anger Be Controlled?"

Preached by on January 25, 2015
— From the series,

Some sign I saw said, "Anger is only one letter short of Danger." How true that is. Learning to control anger, or any negative emotion, is not easy. How does a person "put to death" those negative emotions?


Can Anger Be Controlled?

(Gen. 4:1-7)



A.  Murder.  It seems so far removed from most of us.  Very few people know someone who is a convicted murderer.  We often ask, “How did they get to that point in which they would take another person’s life?”  We try to get in their head and psychoanalyze what is happening.  What could have happened that brought Cain to the point of murdering his own brother?  Can anger be controlled?  For that matter, can any strong emotion be controlled?

B.  Let’s start with life today before we go to Genesis.  Have you ever felt angry with another driver?  I know we all have.  Some might experience what is often called “Road Rage.”  Most statistic place about 1,500 people a year injured or killed in automobile accidents that are caused by road rage.

C.  Psychiatrists have an actual name for the kind of seething rage that goes beyond the speeding, tailgating, or honking. People who experience road rage so violent that it leads to an assault against another driver, passenger, or car may be suffering from “intermittent explosive disorder” (IED), according to a report in the June 2006 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. This disorder may affect up to 7 percent of the population, or about 16 million Americans over their lifetimes, according to the authors.

D.  There are all sorts of reasons why a person “flies off the handle” and starts yelling or screaming at someone.  But we are not here for a pop-psychology talk.  We are here to examine God’s word and hear God speak to us through the pages of the Bible.


I.  More Than Anger

A.  As we come to our text in Gen. 4, we read what happened before the murder, before the anger, before the story that we often go to.  We read about two brothers and their sacrifices.

B.  Remember, Adam and Eve no longer lived in Eden, like all families, these boys were raised outside of Paradise.  I wonder what stories mom and dad told them growing up.  What I do know is that both boys understood the need for worship.

C.  The Bible is silent about why they brought a sacrifice.  But worship is at the heart of all people.  Some worship themselves, some worship that which they don’t know, but others worship that which they do know.  God, the creator, was also a part of these lives.  How God communicated with Cain and Able I don’t know, but our text tells us He did.  So the boys each bring a sacrifice.

D.  We come back to our text (Gen. 4:3-5).  There is nothing in this text that tells us what went wrong.  There is nothing in here that states that God desired an animal sacrifice or that Cain’s gift to God was wrong.  But we do know that the something about this sacrifice time ended in murder.

E.  The NT sheds only a little light.  Listen to two passages, 1 John 3:12.  What was “evil” and what was “righteous?”  Just the type of sacrifice?  Or are we learning more about the nature of these two men.  Was there something deeper than just what happened at the time of the sacrifice that brought out from Cain this great anger?

F.  Heb. 11:4.  When I ask, “What made Abel’s sacrifice more acceptable?”  The only hint I get is that of faith.  It doesn’t appear to be the type of offering that God frowned upon, but the attitude.  There is more to this story than just anger.  This is also a story about relationship with God.  Without a deep relationship with God, the evil from within takes over.


II.  Ready To Devour

A.  Our text helps us to see that.  Gen. 4:5b-7.

B.  Look at this conversation between God and Cain.  God reaches out to Cain and helps him to see what is happening.  God doesn’t just ask him why he is angry, but gives him the reason.  Cain is experiencing a rejection from God.  He may not understand that, but our text tells us that.  He was not acceptable.  What was happening was sin was taking a greater hold on Cain, and God was reaching out to help him.

C.  His mother was talked into sin, but Cain was taking himself there.  He was doing so because of sinful emotions from within.  You can call it jealousy, pride or anger, but the bottom line is Cain was at a decision point in his relationship with God.  He could not live in harmony with his brother when he was not in harmony with his God.

D.  So God expressed the gravity of what was happening by telling Cain that his anger was sin, and that sin wanted to control him.  Sin wanted to overtake Cain.  You and I find ourselves at this crossroads many times.  Our emotions well up within us and we have to decide what will happen next.

E.  James 4:1-3.  Do you get this?  James gives us the way to conquer what happens when these emotions desire to overtake us.  Jump down to verses 7-10.  When we submit to God, resist the devil, and draw near to God we then can have a relationship with others the way God intended.


III.  Rejected Offer

A.  But we heard “the rest of the story.”  Cain rejected God’s counsel.  Cain rejected the idea of submitting to God, surrendering the sin and instead opened the door for sin to come in.  When he did he met his brother out in the field and murdered him.

B.  What happens when you and I let our emotions become our guide?  They take control and drive us to do that which is only destructive.  Cain directed his anger towards his brother and in that anger killed him.  What was he jealous of?  The context tells us he was jealous of his relationship with God.

C.  Church, we come together as a body of Christ.  We call each other brother and sister.  There is no place for anger, hatred, jealousy and strife within the body.  Get rid it them.  Learn to take control of your emotions by surrendering them to God.



A.  The good we find in this story is that God tells Cain, and us, that we are door keeper.  We have the key to our heart.  We can master the sin that so easily entangles us.  We can leave in love and unity.  We can grow in faith and grace.  We can give and receive forgiveness.  The pathway out is the pathway UP.

B.  Before God we come and cast our burdens.  Before God we come and gather in this place to worship.  Before God you can live in holiness, joy, peace and love.  Rev. 3:20 – Jesus stands at the door of your heart knocking.  He wants to come in and dine with you.  For then you will live in victory.