The Root of Bitterness

December 21, 2016

The Root of Bitterness

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; 

The “root of bitterness” is something I always felt came from emotional or spiritual wounds that through unforgiveness and unmended hurt became a source of spiritual infection that would turn into a bitterness, a hatred and a wickedness that would defile and poison all around it.  While I still think this can and does happen to some who have experienced traumatic experiences in their lives that they have never been able to release, forgive or heal from.  Their experience, instead of compelling them to draw deeper into God’s love and grace, has instead caused them to reject, turn aside from God, perhaps not outwardly, but inwardly.  Now they have let bitterness of soul not only corrupt and rob their faith and hope, but it’s spirit is like a poison that touches all around them, bringing defilement and unrighteousness. 

While a life experience or emotional trauma can bring us into this state, it is also a spirit of wickedness that can present itself through idolatry and turning away from the faith of God.  Deuteronomy 29:15-21 gives us some insight to this bitterness and God’s viewpoint on it.  “16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison

19 When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.  20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book will fall upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 The LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.”  We see here that the spirit of idolatry that can cause our hearts to turn away from the Lord and go and worship what the nations worship.  If we give it place it also is like a poison that not only shipwrecks our faith, but can bring down and corrupt those around us.  It seeks to move us away from God’s foundational truths.

The Greek word used here in our passage of Hebrews 12:15 denotes “bitter gall, extreme wickedness, a bitter root, and so producing a bitter fruit or bitter hatred.”   A root is what supports and nourishes a plant, here it is something that can get into our spirits and poison our faith and the faith of those around us.  

We see another example of a man that possesses this quality in Acts 8:18-22, “18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 

20Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 

24Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”” 

We see this man’s attributes exemplified with covetousness, power and self-gain.  His heart was not for Christ to be glorified, but self.  

James 3:13-16 also warns about this spirit entering into the body of Christ and defines its origin.  “Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.”  If we are seeing envying and strife in our midst, then it may be a good indication that the root of bitterness is springing up.  How many churches, personal relationships and people’s faith have been shipwrecked due to a root bitterness whose wickedness has manifested through a person harboring that gall of bitterness?  Watch for this deceitful sin that may come in the guise of righteousness, but whose fruit are division, envying and strife.   

Blessings,

#kent

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