One of the easiest ways for the devil to infiltrate our lives is through unchecked anger.
Anger isn’t a bad feeling to have. The desire for justice is praiseworthy, and our feelings of anger can sometimes fuel us in our efforts to protect our family or the most vulnerable of society. However, when anger crosses the line and is let loose, it can leave us vulnerable to the devil and possibly even demonic possession.
St. Paul warns us plainly in his letter to the Ephesians, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
We see from this passage that anger is not initially a bad feeling, but it can become sinful if we leave it unchecked and uncontrolled. The key lies in our intentions and what we want to do with that anger.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the dark side of anger when commentating on the fifth commandment.
If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. the Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”
Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. (CCC 2302-2303)
When we allow this type of anger to boil over within us, the devil is given a “back door” into our soul. It is his desire to fan the flame of our anger and to convince us that the only way we can satiate this desire is to inflict harm upon another person.
This could take the form of physical violence, or dabbling in occult practices to put curses on a person’s enemies. This is why sinful anger can lead to demonic possession. It is a first step down a dark path that is difficult to turn back from. Either way, it begins with feelings of anger that are not balanced with God’s mercy.
As much as we may want to inflict harm upon someone who has been unjust in any way, Jesus challenges us to, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Anger must not have the last say at the end of the day. The longer it festers within our heart, the more likely we will act out in anger and hurt other people. Take St. Paul’s advice, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Let anger spurn you on towards justice, but don’t let it dominate you.