Friday, December 21, 2007

The Bitter End

…some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
(Daniel 12:2 – ESV)

We must get rid of all bitterness. It is crucial to realize that the basis for all our actions in this regard must be what Jesus Christ has done for us on the Cross. We can be free from bitterness because Jesus paid for all my sin, and for all the sin done to me. If you keep bitterness, it will keep you: It will keep you from . . .

1) Happiness (Ephesians 4:29-5:2) It is easy to recognize when somebody else is bitter. You can see it in the eyes and in the lines of the face – even if the person is young. You can see it in their mouth, and you can see it when they're smiling or laughing. They are bitter and you can see it. You can hear it in the tone of their voices. You can hear it when they protest that they are not bitter. They might seem happy one minute and then any old thing sets them off, and they magnify every little problem into some gigantic catastrophe or emotional nightmare. The bitterness is central and pervades everything. They may say, “well, I am just sick of” . . . well of course you are . . . if you keep biting into bitter fruit you will keep getting sick.

Look at the text. You must let Christ “put it away”, which means expiate (pay for, atone for, satisfy the debt) it. This text isn’t talking about gritting your teeth and bearing it, it is about giving it to Christ and letting Him bear it. The Greek for “be put away” is an aorist passive imperative. A one-time event, that you receive, and it is a command. In other words, God commands you to let it go.

See the reason we can do this, in verse 32? Let Christ do the work, if not you are holding on to it and you will have to pay for it. Either you let Christ satisfy the debt and you become satisfied in Him, or you hold on to the debt and Christ doesn’t pay it and neither can the other person or you. Like verse 32 says, Christ has paid for it and you must let it go. If you keep trying to fight for your rights you are struggling against God, and no wonder you aren’t happy (James 4:6 / 1 Peter 5:5). A bitter person is not a humble person, they are grieving the Holy Spirit, and so they will not be Christ like, they will have no peace, they won’t be happy, and their fruit will be rotten.

2) Holiness (Hebrews 12:14-15) Jesus can’t live big on the inside of you in a house full of your rotten fruit. Matthew 5:8 – your heart is not pure that is why you see evil – You cannot see the Lord working in other people or other situations because bitterness colors all you do. Luke 6:45 – if there is venom on your lips, there is poison in your heart. James 3:11 – coming from the wrong fountain.

Of course everyone has had an argument, dispute, or falling out in a way with someone. Did it ever happen and then, after awhile everything seems okay, maybe even for a long period of time? Did you ever wonder why that one day, suddenly, one little thing happens, and there is an explosion of bitter emotion? It is as if all the past came forward to the present, attached itself to this little thing, and exploded into a major conflagration, as if the original event never died down. Well that is exactly what happened, the original event was only avoided over time, but time cannot heal this wound, bitterness begins to rot, and becomes a root, and the Greek here in this Hebrews text says that its fruit springs up, that is, it happens suddenly.

Make sure you catch that: it is pictured here in this passage as a quick process; the root is ready to produce instant fruit. Time can make bitterness seem invisible, but it is like a time bomb waiting to go off. If you don’t allow Jesus to take your bitterness, it will spring up again and again. It won’t just go away, bitterness is the foe that won’t let go. It’s keeping you from God’s best.

Holiness is being “wholly other,” and holding on to bitterness is what the world proscribes. You may think you have a right to be bitter, but the Bible does not grant anyone the right to be bitter. The Ephesians text says to get rid of all bitterness. The world says stand up for your rights, but Jesus didn’t stand up for His did he? You see no matter what has happened to you, no matter how you have been wronged, you must get rid of bitterness.

Christmas time is where we celebrate the Incarnation, Jesus taking on human flesh and coming to earth. But Jesus didn’t come to liberate us from our social situation, He came to liberate us from our sinful situation, and bitterness is a sin that will keep you from God. Your bitterness can be forgiven, but only if you give it to God. It cannot be forgiven if it hasn’t been given. 1 Peter 5:7 – you mustn’t care about it anymore! You must drop those chains.

3) Heaven (Daniel 12:2) Bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to. It has become rancid and rotten. It is kept in and it gets worse. There is a connection between bitterness and hatred, and a very clear biblical identification between hatred and murder. What I am saying is that hurt can lead to murder. Some might object that this teaching is too strong. But the strength of it is from the Bible. Many are deceived that they have believed in Christ, but you cannot hold on to bitterness and Jesus at the same time. Christ leads us to repent of our bitterness against God, and our bitterness against other people. Jesus said if you don’t forgive other people you will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15). He was not giving some requirement for salvation. He was saying that those who are forgiven become forgiving people themselves. If we do not forgive we become resentful, of other people, of life, and of God. Resentment leads to cynicism, which leads to bitterness, which leads to contempt, and contempt leads to hell, in which Jesus said there would be the “gnashing of teeth”.

Are you going to stay bitter or will you get better? Some people will hold on to their bitterness until they come to the bitter end.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©


One Sheep's Voice said...

I think this is a topic everyone can tune in on at some point in time. Those deep dark things that are difficult to get rid of. Praise God for resturation.

Even So... said...

This is a repost, but it has actually been mostly reworked, and so I took out the comments from before, as they were mostly about some issues from last year...

To all - I am peforming a wedding ceremony this Saturday, but we will still have a "Saturday Sermon"...and then we are going to Colorado on vacation till Thursday, but I will still have five fresh, brand new posts up at Voice next week...may this be a blessed season for you...

donsands said...

I found that when I'm bitter towards someone and I don't think i am, I simply try to pray for this person while I am alone with the Lord.

The prayer may not be as earnest as for my wife, or family, but it will be a petition to the Lord nonetheless.

And the bitterness is revealed and I'm able to deal with it.

Tough thing bitterness. It comes in diferent degrees as well. But even that little bitterness can cause our fruit to be rotten.

Thanks JD. I'm dealing with some resentment. I hate it.
Your words help.