"All right," you may say, "This counsel on how to avoid becoming bitter is fine and good, but what do I do if I'm already bitter, if I've already allowed a `root of bitterness' to grow in my heart?--How do I get rid of it?" That's what our lesson will now deal with, how you can "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you!"--Eph. 4:31.
Once God has pinned down a spiritual problem and given the answer and prescribed the cure, you then need to put it into effect.--And that's usually the hardest part, the spiritual operation. But in the case of a problem like bitterness, if you don't cut out the malignant root, it will kill you! Of course, rooting out can be painful, it's not a very easy job. If you've ever uprooted a plant you know what I mean. Sometimes it tears out some of the earth with it, like tearing out part of your heart.
It's up to you to decide to be or not to be a certain way. In getting victories over deep-rooted problems, a lot has to do with your own will, your own desire. You have to decide that you really want to change, because if you don't, you won't! Of course, only God can fully deliver you from bitterness and its ill-effects, but you must be willing and yielded to Him, and make the decision that you want to be delivered without reservations!--The choice is yours!
Whenever any of us are diagnosed as having a serious spiritual disease such as bitterness, we have to face the facts and admit that we've got a problem. If we won't even face and admit our problems, we're never going to get the victory over them. If you don't recognise and expose the Enemy's work, how are you going to defeat him and get the victory over it?
The Lord promises deliverance and victory, and God says everything He can in His Word to encourage you to have faith to be delivered from your problems! But you can't be delivered and you can't even have faith for it unless you are obedient and honest and willing to confess your unrighteousness and your sins and your faults!
You'll never be able to correct the problem or find the solution if you deny it exists and keep saying everything is all right, perfectly all right.--That doesn't solve the problem at all. In fact, it makes it even worse! You'll never get the victory over such a problem until you honestly face it and confess it. "He that confesseth his sins," God's Word says, "shall have mercy. But he that covereth his sin shall not prosper!"--Pro.28:13. So confess it and ask the Lord to forgive you for any bitterness you may be harbouring towards Him or others! If you're willing to recognise and face your problem, then you can attack it and overcome it!
If you realise how utterly deadly a "root of bitterness" is, you'll certainly want to confess, forsake and get rid of it!--Regardless of what it may cost you to do so! If you love the Lord and you want Him to "build and to plant" His wonderful life-giving fruits of love and mercy in your life and heart, you will do all you can to cooperate with Him to "root out, pull down, throw down and destroy" (Jer.1:10) any and all of the Enemy's death-dealing evil weeds, seeds and bitter roots that may have found a place in your heart!
"Ye that love the Lord, hate evil!"--Psa.97:10. It's been said that a good gardener has got to not only love flowers, but he needs to hate weeds as well. This principle aptly applies to you and the "garden" of your heart. Regardless of how justified you may feel about holding on to any hurts or resentments or wounds from your past, if you are a wise gardener at all, you'll believe the Master Gardener's Manual and its stern warnings about bitterness, and you'll realise that you must do all that you possibly can to rid your plot of this deadly root!--Lest your garden be absolutely overrun, destroyed and defiled by this horrible, nagging, choking "weed!"
Once you've recognised that you have a problem with bitterness and you've admitted and confessed it, then you've got to take a positive and militant stand against it. God's Word tells us that we're "not to be ignorant of the Devil's devices," and once you recognise the poisonous root of bitterness for the deadly and soul-hindering device of the Devil that it really is, you've then got to launch an all-out spiritual attack against the Enemy himself!
You can't do business with the Devil by giving the least place to his evil thoughts against others or God! The only kind of business you can do with him is against him!--Fight him, curse him, curse his work and ask God to rebuke him and deliver you! Get rid of him! That's what you've got to do when his evil "birds" have built a nest of bitterness in your hair!
You've really got to go on the attack and you really have to be positive about it and resist the Enemy! Refuse to allow him any territory in your heart or mind. Rebuke the Devil and pray against any kind of critical spirit or bitter, proud and self-righteous attitude you may have developed towards others!--Or towards the Lord!
You've got to let go of all of the damn doubts and fears and gripes and grudges and murmurs and resentments and devilish burdens put there by the Enemy, and hang on to the Lord with all your might! Hitch your wagon to His star and there'll be no stopping you! But if you weigh down your wagon with all the rocks the Devil would like to pile on, "the weights and sins which do so easily beset you," you'll sink for sure! You've got to "lay aside every weight" and just forsake them and roll'm overboard and let'm fall behind as you go on with the Lord!
Of course, there's great power in united prayer together! So "call for the elders of the church," and have others pray with you and for you, joining together to "agree on Earth" to bind the Enemy and his evil roots of bitterness, and to "loose" and free you from its terrible negative effects! "One can chase a thousand, but two can put ten thousand to flight!"
Then once you've confessed your problem and had united prayer against it, resisting the Enemy and forsaking your sins, you've got to be prepared to keep fighting! Once a root of bitterness has been allowed to grow and spread for any length of time, it usually takes a while to completely break all the negative thought patterns and bad habits caused by it.--Even though the main "root" is gone.
You don't always get the victory over such problems handed to you on a silver platter. By faith you do get it, but you usually have to fight for it and do more than just claim it, you have to really practice it and appropriate it until the Enemy knows you're not going to give up.--Until he knows you're going to keep that victory and you really want it that much and you're not going to just throw it away.
It's been wisely said that, "Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness."
The Lord and His Love, mercy and forgiveness are the antidote for the deadly poison of bitterness! A little love can go such a long way, and no matter what problems a root of bitterness may stem from, love can still cover a multitude of sins on the part of whoever is to blame. Even if you don't understand exactly what the problem is between you and someone, the Lord understands!--And the answer is Love, whatever the problem!
"Love never fails" (1Cor.13:8), and past differences, hurts and grievances can all be healed through humility, love, and the oil of the Spirit. "Only by pride cometh contention" (Pro.13:10), but love, humility and prayer solve all problems! It never fails!
Love casts a veil over countless sins!--Love can cover all of the past sins and mistakes that you--or whoever you're having problems with--have made. The divine, supernatural, miraculous, infinite, marvellous Love of God is love enough to forgive! In fact, if you don't have love enough to forgive, you don't have love--because forgiveness is love! So if you can't forgive, you cannot possibly have real love or real humility!--And you haven't got mercy, because love is forgiveness and mercy!
As we've already pointed out, it's all too easy for us to go down the line and blame others for everything that's wrong with us and for all our problems. "Oh, they mistreated me and weren't fair to me!"--Or, "They didn't keep me in line and they didn't help me to do what is right, they let me do the wrong thing!" But when we forgive others, we no longer blame them.
Once bitterness has had the opportunity to grow in your heart, it's very easy to become very unloving and hard towards those you feel bitter against. Your spirit can then be very unforgiving, intolerant and impatient. Instead of making it easier for others, you even make it harder for them by your judging and critical spirit, hard heart and unforgiving attitude. If you've been this way, you'd better ask those toward whom you've been bitter to forgive you for your unloving critical spirit, and receive them with wide open arms, and ask them to forgive you for being so self-righteous, critical, hard of heart and unloving!
If you want to forsake and get rid of your bitterness, you have to forgive.--And if you truly forgive someone, that means you let go of whatever it is you're harbouring in your heart against them. You can't say you forgive, but can never forget. That means you're still holding it against them.
Those who say they will forgive but not forget are all too often simply burying the hatchet but leaving the handle out for future use. When you've had a problem with bitterness, you've got to be willing to absolutely release and forsake all of your past bitterness and grievances towards others. You've got to "forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before."--Phil.3:13.
Here's how one author accurately described bitterness and forgiveness: "Carrying a grudge is a loser's game. It is the ultimate frustration because it leaves you with more pain than you had in the first place. Recall the pain of being wronged, the hurt of being stung, cheated, demeaned. Doesn't the memory of it fuel the fire of fury again? Do you feel that hurt each time your memory lights on the people who did you wrong? Your own memory becomes a videotape within your soul that plays unending reruns of your old rendezvous with pain. Is this fair to yourself--this wretched justice of not forgiving?
"The only way to heal the pain that will not heal itself is to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiving heals your memory as you change your memory's vision. When you release the wrong-doer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumour out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free--yourself."--Lewis B. Smedes
The Lord commands us to forgive those who have trespassed against us, and that means we can no longer blame them. Even if they were initially responsible for troubling us or causing us to have problems, we cannot continue to blame them for our problems if we truly forgive them. If we have problems that resulted from others mistreating us, and those problems continue, it's our fault, because the Lord has given us the power to overcome these things.
The Lord wants us to forgive those people and ask Him for His deliverance from those problems, so we can overcome them and be free from their hindrance. The Lord wants us to take the responsibility on ourselves, because He wants to show His power and His deliverance, that no matter what has happened to us in the past, it doesn't have to affect our whole lives! We don't have to carry that load with us for the rest of our lives.
The Word says that "Every man shall give an account of himself unto God!"--Rom. 14:12. But if you don't accept the responsibility for your present problems and quit blaming them on others, you're going to wind up going through your entire life never getting the victory or making any progress spiritually. How can you possibly grow and learn any lessons if you self-righteously blame other people for everything bad that's ever happened to you?
If you hang onto your bitterness and refuse to forgive others, then the Lord cannot forgive you or help you very much! Jesus said, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses!"--Mat.6:14,15. The Lord is able and willing to help you to truly forgive others, and He will help you get rid of that bitterness if you sincerely ask Him and are willing to genuinely let go of every grudge, ought or resentment you may be clinging to.
If you've had a part in any past wrongdoings you may have suffered, you've got to be honest and confess that so that the Lord can heal you and deliver you and forgive you. His Word says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."--1Jn.1:9. But if we don't even confess our sins, if we don't even think something's our fault, then how can the Lord forgive us?
Even if we were entirely guiltless in the wrongs done to us in the past, we are guilty in that we got bitter about it. And if we blame someone else for our present problems because of some wrong they did to us in the past, we are wrong. Our present problems are our fault.
If your desire is to truly love and serve and worship the Lord "in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24), then you've got to get rid of that heavy burden of bitterness and blame that you are carrying around and putting on other people for your problems; otherwise, you'll never be able to accomplish much for the Lord. Blaming others for your present problems is just murmuring and complaining! You are responsible for what you do from now on!
Are you blaming your problems on others? Have you forgiven from your heart those who have hurt you in the past? Or are you using that as an excuse for your present problems? Remember, "Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God!"--Rom. 14:12. You are responsible for your own actions! So for God's sake, forgive those who have trespassed against you so the Lord can forgive you for your trespasses! "Forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto the things which are before, and press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!"--Phil.3:13,14.
When you're determined to utterly forsake a spiritual problem like bitterness and you call out to the Lord with a whole heart, asking Him to deliver you, it only takes one blast of the mighty searing power of the Holy Ghost to burn out all the Devil's old circuits in a mighty infilling of God's Spirit.--God's great electrical power!
When you sincerely call out to the Lord to deliver you, He does His part, and will fulfil His promise: "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you."--Eze. 36:26. But even though you are a new creature, that old self will still try to pop up again! You have to fight the Devil and your old self and your old bad habits every day! So be prepared for a battle every day--especially with your besetting sins--"the weights and sins that do so easily beset you."--Heb.12:1.
The Lord will be faithful to answer prayer and do His part. But then you've got to do your part by exerting the effort to forsake and "put off" all of the old negative thought patterns and bad habits. His Word says: "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."--Eph.4:22-24.
You need to really give the Lord a lot of cooperation in working on breaking any bad habits of bitterness you've formed, and ask Him to change your entire outlook and attitude towards those whom you've been bitter against.
You don't always necessarily get over this sort of thing in a day, it may sometimes take a little while. The Enemy doesn't easily yield territory that he's controlled. When people have had weaknesses and channels open to the Enemy before, he'll try to get that ground back if he can. So you've got to keep praying that the Lord will deliver you and give you the complete victory, rewire you completely!
You have to be absolutely rewired and have your mind transformed by the Spirit of God, and it usually takes time to rewire or reprogram a computer! Any psychologist will tell you that a new thought pattern cannot be established until the old one has had time to be completely erased.--In your case, only by a miracle of God!
Ask Him to put a new mind in you, "That mind which is in Christ Jesus!"--Phil. 2:5. That takes a genuine spiritual renewal, a real rewiring of all the nerves and nerve centres and whatnot, to make sure the Lord has complete control and the Devil's previous channels are broken completely!
And if you have to fight a real big battle to get the victory, the Lord will give you a lot more credit, a lot more reward. If you have a real tough battle and struggle to get the victory, it's probably because the Lord's testing you to find out how much you want it, and how much you're willing to fight for it before He's going to reward you with it. But if you do your part, the Lord will certainly do His, and you will win!--So don't give up! Praise the Lord!Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family
My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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Back to table of contexts of BITTERNESS! - The Deadly Root that Devours and Destroys!
Also see an excellent Bible study about bitterness: