Sunday, September 29, 2013 am            Purer in Heart Index


Dangers to the Pure Heart – 5

 We have been discussing some dangers to the pure heart.  We have addressed lust in its various forms, ignorance & unbelief, & last week we discussed the danger of busyness and clutter in our lives.  As we continue our study of dangers to the pure heart, we now come to some unhealthy attitudes that will poison a heart so quickly that recovery becomes extremely difficult.  We want to discuss the attitude of bitterness and various qualities that accompany it – anger, resentment, envy, hatred, malice, spite, harshness, etc. 

 I.                    Bitterness –

a.        The word “bitter” has several meanings in an English dictionary.   The first definition is, “having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet.[1] This is followed by definitions dealing with painful emotions, anger and resentful feelings. 

b.       As we discuss the subject of bitterness, these definitions are related.   Bitterness of attitude is often related to have experiences (“tasted”) something that was very unpleasant.    The Bible deals with the bitter taste, while making spiritual application, in passages like:

                                                   i.      Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

                                                  ii.      Rev. 10:10, John was given a book to eat.  In the mouth it was sweet, but in his stomach it became bitter.   IT was a prophecy of doom.

                                                iii.      James 3:11, speaking of the tongue, “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?

c.        Bitterness (πικρία, pikria) is the idea of a heart that is resentful and ill-willed.  It originates from a word that means pointed or sharp (as in the tip of an arrow) and thus penetrating. 
IT describes one who is angry in disposition and easily offended.    It is a strong word for strong feelings.
L&N defines the word as “a state of sharp, intense resentment or hate.” (88.201)

d.       When someone harbors feelings of bitterness, there is going to be problems – heart problems, relationship problems, self-inflicted misery (you rob yourself of joy and peace), etc.  IN essence, it will open the door for Satan to enter your heart to do evil, often against another.  And while he is there, he will “trash the place”.

e.       Bitterness can do great damage:

                                                   i.      It can lead to actions which destroy relationships within families, both physical and spiritual.  Marriages have been damaged and destroyed, homes broken, friendships severed, etc. 

                                                  ii.      It can cause physical damage – people often act out of hate and do things that cannot be taken back.  Prisons are filled with those who acted with bitterness in their hearts (whether the way they were treated was right or wrong doesn’t matter).

                                                iii.      It can divide the church and cause brethren to mistreat each other and refuse to seek reconciliation.   The damage may go further as those outside see the ungodly way that they treat each other.

                                                iv.      IT causes all sorts of personal damage – stress, depression, obsession with unhealthy feelings, abusive self-behavior (turning to unhealthy substances or behaviors), a refusal to forgive, hatred, cynicism, etc.

                                                  v.      It can cause one to look at circumstances with prejudice.  How many because of bitterness refuse to approach something that is done by another objectively?   Especially when you are bitter against that someone!  They assume the worst of motives in everything. 

                                                vi.      IT will strain one’s relationship with God as well.   Friends, bitterness WILL keep you out of heaven!
NOTE: One of the worst forms of bitterness is when it is directed against God.  How many despise Him because of the “hand they have been dealt”? 

                                               vii.      As stated, it will POISON the pure heart!  Bad attitudes have a way of affecting the heart for evil.  They hinder the development of purity.


 II.                  Bitterness and its companions are strongly addressed in scripture.

a.        In Ephesians 4:31–32 we read, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”  There are many passages of scripture like this that warn about unhealthy attitudes.   These are attitudes that can accomplish no good.

b.        But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (James 3:14–16)

c.        For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)  NOTE: In becoming a Christian, we are obligated to put to death the man of sin and his worldly ways.  You cannot use your past as a crutch to justify present ungodly behavior. 

d.        Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14–15)  Friends, bitterness will affect your soul!  It also comes with consequences.   IF you continue the text you find the example of Esau as he sold his birthright.  It says, “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16–17)  Genesis 25:32-34 finds Esau selling his birthright (as the firstborn son) to his brother Jacob for some food.  In Genesis 27 Jacob is old and feels he is about to die.  He calls for Esau to bless him, but Jacob with deceit steals his birthright as well.  We don’t know how much time has elapsed here, but when Esau finds out about the deceit, he is angry and resolves to kill Jacob after Isaac died.  The result is Jacob had to flee and he does not return for about 20 years.   Gen. 27:36 records Esau’s response after discovering the deceit, ““And Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”  HE is bitter and has not “gotten over it.”  HOW truly sad it is when we allow bitterness to destroy family and close relationships, often times because we DON’T want to resolve it.

e.       When Simon the Sorcerer was told he could not purchase the power to lay hands upon others and impart the Spirit, Peter said to him, “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:23)

f.         “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Colossians 3:19)

g.        Hatred is often the product of bitterness.  When brethren act with hatred, there is serious heart trouble and if it persists it will almost always end badly.  He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.” (Proverbs 26:24–26)

h.       Lev. 19:17 warned Israel, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.” (Leviticus 19:17)

i.         Eph. 4:26-27 says ““Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.


 III.                Dealing with bitterness.

a.        What is the solution to bitterness and hatred?  It is love!

b.       WE HAVE TO love one another!  IT is simply NOT an option!

                                                   i.      To say you love God and hate your brother – NOT happening! “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)

                                                  ii.      Our love for one another is a testament to the world that we are His disciples – John 13:35

                                                iii.      1 Pet. 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”   In this expression, the point is that when we have love for one another we will think before acting in an unloving manner, we will take care of problems in a godly way, and we will help each other overcome sin. 

c.        Learn the scriptural way to deal with problems.

                                                   i.      WE have to learn how we are to treat each other as brethren and do it!  This is especially true when there are problems.  How often do we mess up when dealing with trouble with one another? 

                                                  ii.      IF your brother sins (against you) - Jesus outlines a procedure for a brother in sin. ““Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15–17)
Also Gal. 6:1 which speaks of your brother overtaken in a trespass.  You are to seek to restore him with a spirit of gentleness.
James 5:19-20, if he wanders from the truth, turning him back can save his soul from death and “cover a multitude of sins” – his, yours and perhaps others.

                                                iii.      If you sin against your brother - In the Sermon on the mount, Jesus warned about spiteful words and attitudes.  He said, ““You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:21–26)
ONE day, we will all stand before God and give an accounting for our lives.  We are told by Paul, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10–12)

                                                iv.      IF you have been wronged by anyone (including those not brethren) – let God take care of the vengeance.  Strive to let go!  Romans 12:17–21, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

d.       If you are bitter, admit it!  You have to honestly face your flaws.  Far too many, rather than acknowledging bitterness will seek to justify their ungodly attitudes and behavior by placing blame on others  (I.e. “It is his fault”, “He is wrong”, “I have a right to be upset”, “I’m not bitter, just angry”, “He is getting what he deserves”, etc.).

e.       Realize that bitterness jeopardizes your soul  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19–20)

f.         Learn to forgive!  Again, it is a MUST!  ““For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14–15)
Recall what Jesus taught about how MUCH we are to forgive – 70x7 – Matt. 18:22.  This is followed by the parable of an unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:23-35) who was forgiven of massive debt, yet he refused to forgive even a little debt of a fellow servant.  Application, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Relating our forgiving others to how much we have been forgiven by Christ, we read, “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” (Colossians 3:13)
James 2:13 says that judgment is without mercy to he who has shown no mercy.
If you hate your brother you will NOT make it to heaven!

g.        Seek forgiveness – this FOLLOWS the previous step.   WE have noted in Matt. 6:15 that our forgiveness depends upon our willingness to forgive others!  It comes in that order.  BUT also remember that if you are guilty of bitterness and all that accompanies it, you have to repent and take care of that sin.  God demands it. 


And thus we can see the problem of bitterness as it affects our hearts.  As Christians we must strive to overcome all ungodly attitudes.  The world we live in is filled with bitterness, hatred, envy and the like.  Even the godless realize it is a problem.  Let us with pure hearts strive to live above this world’s standards and make it a better place.  It will be good for society and for our eternal well-being.  Think about it!