Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL


The Bonds of Bitterness

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The Bonds of Bitterness
Eph. 4:31
Has someone ever said or done something to you for which you found it difficult to forgive them?
Every time their very name is brought up, even if it was years ago, it still brings butterflies to your stomach. When you think of them, your heart rate increases. And you can feel your blood pressure rising when you think of what they said or did. It’s as though you were reliving it again, just thinking about it!
If so, it may be that you are in the bonds of bitterness. Which is a shame…because bitterness doesn’t even touch the person you are bitter toward, but it sure will harm you, no exceptions. Like Frankenstein, bitterness is a monster which turns on its creator, and causes internal damage beyond compare…an internal poison eating it’s way out!
The other person continues their life, and may be happy and content, and never even think about you, but because you hold bitterness for them, they continue to control your life…if they do think about you, it’s in satisfaction as they can see they still get at you!

Ill.—counseling w/ women abused as girls: He continues to touch you until you give that bitterness to God. Men hit by their fathers…he’s still hitting on you?

Many emotions which we feel are not necessarily sin:
Anger—“be ye angry and sin not”
(it’s possible…righteous indignation)
But when anger gets out of its cage, it’s sin.
(Or when the object of our anger is misplaced)
Guilt is not always sin
Sometimes the Lord gives us a Godly guilt, a conscience, a convicting, to get us back onto the straight and narrow.
But Satan uses guilt to paralyze us in our Christian walk…and when guilt gets out of its cage it is sin.
Grief is not always sin.
Grief is a gift from God when used to help us heal from loss or sorrow of some kind.
But if we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to comfort our grief, it becomes self-pity…a sin.

Anger/guilt/grief, are they sin? Maybe so, maybe not. But there is a human emotion that is always, w/ out exception, a sin: Bitterness!! Bitterness and unforgiveness is always sin!
If you spit in my eye, you have sinned. If I turn away in bitterness, I have sinned.
You question my motives/ injure me falsely…
Have you been sinned against? Don’t join in on the sinning by responding wrong!

Who is that person that comes to mind? For whom do you hold bitterness, if you’re honest w/ God today? Don’t explain it away…they came to mind for a reason. The Holy Spirit of God brings them to your mind because He loves you and wants to rid you of a cancer that is eating you from inside out!
It may have been last week or last year…I don’t care if it was decades ago when you were a child…but you know in your heart that you’ve never truly forgiven them for it.
And whatever you do, don’t say: I don’t hardly ever think about them at all. That wasn’t the question. The question is when you DO think about them, or someone else brings it up even, what are your thoughts about them? “Thank you Lord for forgiving me though I don’t deserve it, and for not holding my sins against me…and thank you for giving me the power to forgive others.”
Let’s all be honest, no denial…who is it?

6 things Bitterness will do to your life:

1. Bitterness will devastate you spiritually
Why? For 2 reasons:
• Because bitterness necessitates that you walk in the flesh, and not in the Spirit.
All Christians have that choice every day, many times a day, to take a step in the flesh or to take a step in the Spirit.
(only 2 choices on the shelf…)
We can’t control what happens in life, but we can control how we respond/react!
A bold sounding statement: If you have unresolved bitterness in your life, you are not right with God, and you are not walking in the Spirit, but in the flesh!
Proof: Gal. 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance
These are the very things you hold back from them, as long as you are bitter…
You are w/ them and don’t feel like displaying love
You think about them and don’t feel joy, and have no peace at all!
You aren’t longsuffering, or you would give them more latitude…you’d think about how much you’ve been forgiven for by Christ and it would make it easier to forgive them yourself, even if they don’t deserve forgiveness…neither do you! (which is meekness!)
You can erase them from your hit list if you’re walking in the Spirit!

The very next chapter drives it all home:
Gal. 6
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption
Yes, bitterness will devastate you spiritually
Holding bitterness is walking in the flesh…sowing to the flesh, and it will eat you up inside.

It’s impossible to be wrong w/ man and right w/ God at the same time.
Ill.—Ragsdales g’daughter messes w/ clock, sees g’ma coming and says, I love you!
(No, you can’t love on me when you’re disobeying!)
That’s how it is with the Lord, you can’t love on him when you’re wrong w/ someone else, living…or dead!

• Because bitterness necessitates that you walk in the flesh, and not in the Spirit.
• Because bitterness halts spiritual growth altogether.

How many want to grow in grace? Say Amen!
Want church to grow in grace?/Be all you can be for God?/Reach fullest potential He intended for you?/use your spiritual gifts for His glory?

If you want to stop that process dead in its tracks, all you have to do is harbor bitterness! God says, the train stops right here, and doesn’t move again until you take the stow-away of bitterness and throw him off the train!

In the Bonds of Bitterness? Let Christ set you free, because: Bitterness will devastate you spiritually…

2. Bitterness will destroy you physically
It’s like a constantly running machine. It’s not an occurrence, it’s a lifestyle. It enters into your subconscious mind, and it runs while you’re sleeping, eating, watching TV, talking to a friend.
And medical doctors say bitterness will affect your body, your physical health.
Bitterness has been medically linked to glandular problems, high blood pressure, cardiac disorders, ulcers, and even insanity.
One leading psychiatrist wrote, “90% of all people in insane asylums could be released immediately if they would learn how to forgive, or how to be forgiven.”

An article from The Gospel Herald:
“There was a man whose health was good. He was sturdy and strong. His heart action and blood pressure were fine. Then his father died, and he got into a prolonged legal dispute with his sister about their father’s will. The case went to court, and the sister won. From that day on, the man could think of nothing more than the lawsuit and his sister. He talked about it, he thought about it, he filled himself w/ it, it became an obsession. And each day, he grew to hate his sister more. Then he began to have difficulty with his heart and blood pressure. Next, his kidneys bothered him. Before many months, complications killed him. It seems obvious that he died from bodily injuries brought on by powerful emotion. I believe the man killed himself, death by bitterness.”

He committed spiritual suicide, and the trigger that he pulled was the trigger of bitterness.
(not implying for a moment that all sickness is caused by bitterness, but I am saying it’s impossible to be bitter, and it not affect your body.)

Prisoner of Bitterness? Let Christ set you free, because: Bitterness will devastate you spiritually, destroy you physically

3. Bitterness will Discourage you emotionally
Where there’s bitterness, there’s discouragement. Because bitterness leads to paranoia. You start to develop a victim’s mentality=everyone’s out to get you. You become negative, critical, and paranoid. You become judgmental of others and think you know their motives. You think people are talking about you.
Joke—can’t go to football game because team huddles and you’re sure they’re talking about you. (looking for contact!)

Ill.—teacher makes student hold book at arm’s length…kid laughs…it’s not heavy…but after a while, sweat will pour and tears will roll, and he’ll beg for mercy.

Some of you minimize the seriousness of that “little bit of bitterness” you may have…and you say, it’s not really a problem for me…but you hold onto it long enough and you’ll drop your spiritual arms in discouragement!

That’s why our text says in Heb. 12:12—lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees!

Prisoner of Bitterness? Let Christ set you free, because: Bitterness will devastate you spiritually/destroy you physically/discourage you emotionally

4. Bitterness will Divide the fellowship
We’re on a great roll here at GBC…the momentum is moving in a good, steady direction…PTL! If you want that to stop, then just harbor bitterness for someone else who’s here!
We’re all human, and at times we’ll give each other reason to be offended…sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not!
Joke—“son, I’m taking momma to the Dr. for her Colitis”
Son: Who’d momma collide w/ this time?

Collisions will happen w/in the fellowship…we can’t completely avoid that…but we can control how we respond!
“You don’t know what they said/did to me!”
I don’t mean to minimize your pain, or sound arrogant, but “you’re not the 1st person to get hurt in church!”
Sometimes we just need a good old-fashioned dose of growin’ up! Grow up, and get over it. Remember that you don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, and even if they don’t deserve yours, it’s still the right thing to do to grant it to them!
I’ve only been here a short time, and I’ve been lied to, lied about, criticized falsely, my motives judged (an arena God reserves only for Himself!), my sincerity questioned.
But maturity each time begs me to blow it off, because it’s to be expected if you’re doing what’s right. And I believe there’s bigger things to focus on, and I’m not willing to take my eyes off of the real goal. God’s my defender, and He’ll be yours, if you’ll let go, and let Him! Don’t take it into your own hands, put it in His!

God allows us to be hurt sometimes, as a test…will they become bitter, or better? Sometimes he allows valleys to be cut into our soul, but He can use those valleys as a channel thru which he can transmit His grace to others, if you’ll allow the wound to heal, by leaving it in the hands of the Great Physician, and not taking it into your own hands.

I’ve been in churches that are gonna have to have some funerals before they’ll ever go forward for God, because of some members making a conscious decision to harbor bitterness.

Ill.—Kimberly can tell you about a fistfight she’s seen in God’s house!
Bitterness divides the fellowship.
“you don’t know what happened!”
I don’t need to know…
In Christian love,
On the authority of God’s Word…
Get over it!
Prisoner of Bitterness? Let Christ set you free, because:

5. Bitterness will defile your relationships
There’s a spill-over effect w/ bitterness.
You don’t have to be bitter toward your spouse to ruin your marriage. You can be bitter toward your mom or dad, and ruin your marriage!/you can be bitter toward me and ruin your relationship w/ your children! Because of the spill-over effect.
Hebrews 12:15
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Romans 3:13-17
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: [14] Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: [15] Their feet are swift to shed blood: [16] Destruction and misery are in their ways: [17] And the way of peace have they not known:

Be sure of this: Bitterness toward anyone, living or dead, will destroy your relationship w/ God.

6. Bitterness will deprive you of a blessing
You’ll bring that negative, critical spirit to church w/ you. You won’t come looking for a blessing, you’ll be looking for what’s wrong…and you’re sure to find it!

How to remove bitterness:
v. 15 “root” of bitterness
Only 1 way, yank it by the root, by the grace of God. You cannot do it by yourself.
Ill.—Children of Israel crossed Red Sea, were thirsty, came to Marah (bitter). What did God tell Moses to do to heal the bitter waters? Cut down a tree…and when the tree made contact w/ the waters, they were healed!
The only hope for the bitter waters sloshing around in your soul is for them to come into contact w/ the cross of Calvary!
Ephes. 4:31
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.

(Bro. Jones’ testimony—whose card are you carrying around?)
In the Bonds of Bitterness? Jail break this a.m. at ll:??

Nothing more bitter than a sinner who needs to be forgiven, can be forgiven, and yet is not forgiven, because they won’t accept it. Forgiveness is offered. Take it!