Bitter

Bitter

Paul went to bed after taking a pill for anxiety, a pill for nausea and another pill for sleep. His stomach always stayed upset and he kept a headache. His ex-wife had taken his house and kids. He felt that he had nothing left because of her, nothing except for his intense bitterness and desire for revenge. “I hate her!” he said. “I wish we’d never gotten married. She ruined my life. I think about it all the time!”

                The Apostle Peter said to Simon the Sorcerer, a man who tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit with money, “For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” (Acts 8:23) Bitterness is something that can hold you in bondage, take away your joy and leave you living under a cloud of pain, anger and depression. Anger turned out is wrath. Anger turned in is bitterness. If we think of bitterness as a tree, it all starts with a seed.

THE SEED of bitterness may be something hurtful that someone has said to you. It may be something bad that someone has done to you. Whatever it is, if internalized and left unforgiven, it will lead to a root.

THE ROOT of bitterness fixes itself in your heart and mind. It causes you to hold on to bitter memories of wrongs that others have done to you. Just as it is hard to pull a well-rooted weed out of the ground, it is hard to remove bitterness from your soul. Bitter roots inside create bitter fruits outside.

THE FRUIT of bitterness is unkindness and harsh words and actions towards those with whom we are bitter. It can also lead to a generally harsh and unpleasant attitude towards those closest to us.

bitter-tree

GETTING RID OF BITTERNESS:

How to turn lemons into lemonade 

  1. Put away bitterness.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

To “put away” means, “to carry off.” You cannot carry bitterness off, or away, from yourself. You must give your hurt to Christ and let Him take the bitter root out of your heart.

  1. Be kind.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted…” (Ephesians 4:32a) We must replace harsh words and actions towards those around us with kindness. Being kind will make our hearts tender towards the hurts and needs of others.

  1. Forgive.

“…Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32b) To “forgive,” in this verse means, “to give grace.” Just as Christ has graciously forgiven us when we did not deserve it, we should give others the forgiveness they do not deserve. We cannot do this of ourselves. We do this “for Christ’s sake.” Jesus suffered for the sins of the person who wronged you. Show the grace of forgiveness to them for His sake.

The Story of Joseph

            If any man could have been bitter at the way life had treated him, Joseph certainly could have. You can read his story in Genesis 37-50. Sold into slavery by his own jealous brothers when he was young, he was made a servant in a prominent man’s house in Egypt. Joseph was falsely accused of a crime and put in prison where he was forgotten. After years, he had an opportunity to be brought before Egypt’s Pharaoh to interpret a dream. He was then made second in command in Egypt and given the opportunity to face his brothers again who had, years before, sold him as a slave.

Instead of being bitter, he looked at his whole life as under the control of God. He saw God working wonderful things through his adverse circumstances, things that brought him to a place to have the power to save the nation of Israel from extinction. He said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

It could be that the thing that is making you bitter has actually been given to you as an opportunity to make you better. It may be that God plans to use your life in a great way for His glory. Let Christ take the bitterness away, before it sours your whole life!

Trapped!

TRAPPED!

Joseph looked at pornography on the Internet almost every day. He felt guilty about it and wanted to stop. But no matter how hard he tried, he had to look. “My parents took away my smart phone and made me use a regular, old ‘dumb phone.’ That didn’t stop me. I just used a friend’s computer. I can’t stop looking. I guess I need to see a counselor or something. It’s really addictive. I’m only 16.”

            Pornography is extremely addictive and prevalent. According to a 2008 survey of college students, “93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet porn before the age of 18.”[i] If this statistic isn’t disturbing enough, the fact that many young people are sharing nude photographs of themselves with friends on Internet social services like Instagram® and Snapchat® should scare parents to death. There is a whole generation growing up who will be pornography addicts and eventually need counseling to lead normal lives. Pornography addictions continue on into marriage and can destroy intimacy between a husband and wife.

What causes the temptation to look at pornography? The answer is simple: lust. The Bible says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15)

Lust inside of us draws us towards sin. The lust the Bible speaks of in these verses is our sin nature. That is, the thing inside of every one of us that pulls us in the wrong direction. This sin nature draws us away. When the Bible uses the phrase “drawn away,” it is the idea of a hunter or fisher luring their prey. Our sin nature pulls us in the wrong direction, and sets traps for us. It attempts to trick us into taking the bait. When we give in to temptation, we become like a fish that has swallowed the lure. We’re trapped. Once we have been trapped by the lure of lust, sin comes, and then death. Many people have experienced the death of purity and discovered that with this death, comes a life of lust, shame and hiding their porn dependency from their families. What is the solution to this type of addiction? The Bible gives us the answer:

  1. The Human Body Was Not Designed For Sexual Sin.

The Bible says, “…Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13) God’s Word teaches that the human body was not designed for the purpose of fornication. The word fornication means sexual sin. This can include sexual sin of any kind, including pornography. Therefore, it is fair to say that the human body was not created for pornography. Since the verse preceding 1 Corinthians 6:13 was talking about being controlled by an outside force, (in verse 12 Paul says, “I will not be brought under the power of any”) we can conclude that Paul is talking about control in verse 13 as well. The body is not to be controlled by fornication, but by the Lord. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body. One day, God will raise our bodies from the dead: “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14) So our bodies belong to the Lord and will be rescued from the grave by the Lord. God has an eternal purpose for our bodies. The Lord is truly “for the body.” The body is truly “for the Lord,” not for fornication.

  1. We Have Bought Into a False Idea

One of the main tricks that our own lust uses to trap us in the sin of fornication is the idea that pornography is strong and that we cannot resist. If we view pornography as a big thing in our lives, a powerful thing that has control over us, there will be no way that we can resist it. Paul simply says, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) The Lord is all-powerful. The body and spirit belong to God. The idea that a picture of a naked person could have power over you is absurd! Pornography cannot satisfy the body, can never provide the eyes, and mind the things that they truly need. The Lord is the only being that can really satisfy the human body! The Psalmist wrote, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

Only when we receive our resurrection bodies will we find true satisfaction, because we will awake in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Efforts to satisfy the longing desires of your body with pornography will always fail. If the pictures could truly satisfy, why would you have to go back and look at them again? If they are so powerful, why do you need to see more and more of them? Dismiss from your mind the idea of the power of pornography over your life. The next time you are tempted to look at pornography, recognize that your body is for Christ and Christ for your body. You will not need pictures, if you look to Christ by faith as the ultimate satisfier of the body and spirit.

  1. We Have An Exclusive Membership.

We should also realize that the bodies of all born-again believers are members of Jesus Christ. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.” (1 Corinthians 6:15) Fornication was prevalent in the city of Corinth when Paul wrote his letters to the church there. Sex with harlots was a part of some religious ceremonies. Paul simply reminds the Corinthian Christians that their bodies belong to Jesus Christ. They are a part of Christ’s body: “your bodies are the members of Christ.” What a powerful thing! Our bodies belong to and are a part of Jesus Christ. How wicked and foolish it would be, then, to make the members of Christ members with a harlot. Membership with Christ is an exclusive thing. Try going to an elite country club to play golf without a membership. You cannot do it. They will want proof of your membership. Their club is exclusive!

Now imagine this: here is Jesus Christ. His spiritual body is for members only. Here is a believer who says, “I am going to become a member of a harlot. I’m going to join this prostitute to the body of Christ. She won’t be joined to Christ’s body through salvation. She will be joined to it through fornication.” Paul says, “…shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.”  (1 Corinthians 6:15b) The next time you are tempted to look at pornography, remember that to do so is to join a member of Christ’s body with a harlot. God forbid that we should do this!

  1. Nothing Should Have Power Over Us Except Christ.

Paul wrote, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12) When we allow pornography to control us, we are brought under its power. It will take some fortitude, but like Paul we need to say, “I will not be brought under the power of any.” Pornography cannot control you unless you allow it to. After all, it is just pictures. Christ is reality.

  1. Pornography Is Idolatry

The English word, pornography comes from two Greek words that literally mean, prostitute writing, or writing about harlots. The women and men who have naked photographs made of them and placed on the Internet are playing the role of harlots, and are telling a fantasy story.

Let’s say someone on a social site publishes pictures of their naked bodies for “friends” to look at. This is a type of prostitution. Certainly, allowing a prostitute to have so much power over you that you would be willing to risk your marriage, family, testimony and everything decent in your life is nothing less than idolatry.

The worship of Aphrodite in Corinthian society involved sex with prostitutes. The goddess’s temple boasted 1,000 female prostitute-slaves just for the use of visitors to the busy seaport![ii] Paul warned against this: “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:16) The union of husband and wife in marriage where two become one is a sacred, spiritual event. There is a satanic, spiritual influence in pornography. When the mind of a Christian is united with the fantasy story of an Internet harlot, it is spiritual idolatry. I cannot stress to the reader enough the spiritual danger of this sort of thing. It is absolutely idolatrous! No wonder Paul says in verses 18 and 19, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Do you see the connection in these verses? Paul is saying, “When you commit sexual sin, you are sinning against your own body, and by the way: your body is God’s temple. The Holy Ghost lives inside of your body.”

Defiling God’s temple with idolatrous images is not a new thing. This form of idolatry is very prevalent today through pornography, but in the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel observed this in the Jewish Temple, through a vision:

“And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.” (Ezekiel 8:7-12)

Inside God’s temple, the Jewish priests had created drawings on their walls. In the darkness, in the chambers of their imagery, were the filthy, idolatrous images. They were worshipped in secret; the priests burned incense to them. This form of idolatry goes on today in front of computer screens and smartphone screens in the privacy of Christian homes. Men and women worship the gods of their own immoral desires at the proverbial alters of Internet sex sites. This kind of idolatry defiles our bodies, which are the “temple of the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

  1. Flee Fornication.

The Bible says, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) Because fornication is the only sin that is against our own bodies, we need to flee from it. The decision to commit fornication is the decision to destroy your body. Perhaps someone reading this says, “I am not destroying my body. I don’t have sex with prostitutes. I just look at pictures.” Your body has eyes and a mind and you are causing destruction to both. Your mind will be filled with filthy thoughts. Your eyes will be trained to look at women in immoral ways. It will not be long before you look at every woman you meet as an object, even the women at church. Pornography corrupts your whole outlook towards members of the opposite sex. The Bible says that we should treat, “The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 5:2) If you will treat younger women as sisters it will stop a lot of lust. Pornography warps the way you treat young women. A proper view of members of the opposite sex will stop fornication dead in its tracks.

The Bible tells us to: “Flee fornication.” How do we do that? The word, flee, means to look for safety by running away. We need to run away from fornication to a place of safety. The truth is:

  1. Often, pornography seems like a place of safety for us.
  2. If you are having trouble dealing with something bad in your life, pornography can feel safe. It is like a drug. It eases your pain.
  3. Pornography is a distraction from the thing that is really troubling you.
  4. Pornography is a false safety, because it only makes things worse.
  5. You can only find true safety by running away from fornication and running to Jesus Christ.

We can flee from and flee to. Flee from fornication. Flee to Jesus Christ. The truth is, whatever is troubling you, the answer can be found in Christ. If you will look to Him by faith, you will find out that He is everything. Do you feel like a loser because of some failure in your life? Look to Christ. You are more than a conqueror through Him. (Cf. Romans 8:37) The more you see Christ as all, the less you will see your problems, and the less you will feel a need for pornography. You will eventually not need it at all. As well, you can flee fornication by:

  1. Putting Internet accountability software like Covenant Eyes® on your computer. It will filter and spy on your Internet activity. It’s like having someone in the room with you.
  2. If you cannot handle a smartphone, get rid of it. Get a “dumb phone” that does text messaging and calls. That is all you may be able to handle now. As you learn to cope with your temptations, you can try a smartphone again.
  3. If you use a smartphone and have looked at pornography on it in the past, have an accountability partner check your phone from time to time, maybe once or twice a week.
  4. See a Christian counselor. You may need counseling to help deal with your addiction. The idea that you should keep it secret and isolate yourself to deal with it is false and comes from the Devil. You are only setting yourself up to fail again if you keep things secret.

[i] Teens and Porn: 10 Stats You Need to Know. http://www.covenanteyes.com/2010/08/19/teens-and-porn-10-stats-your-need-to-know/

[ii] See Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, “Corinth”