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The Dangers of Hidden Bitterness


Everyone has seen the destructive power of bitterness working openly in the lives of various individuals.  Even more dangerous is an evasive form which remains hidden, especially from the victim.  Many are surprised when they learn that the Holy Spirit still manages to work to a degree in their lives in spite of their load of bitterness within.

We need to ask the Lord to probe the inner depths of our hearts and souls to reveal hindering things which block or hinder God’s will for our lives.  Facing these things squarely and appropriating forgiveness for them has a heavy effect in determining our spiritual progress.  The first incident of bitterness in scripture:

“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”  (Genesis 4:5)

Religious jealousy and anger were the first indications of the resentment and bitterness within Cain.  Anger opened the door for resentment and his face reflected his feelings.

“And the Lord said unto Cain, why art thou wroth and why is thy countenance fallen?” if thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin (a demon)  lieth at the door. And unto thee {shall be} his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”  (Genesis 4:7)

Here anger and resentment are plainly open doors for demonic entrance and activity.  Sin (a demon)  crouches at the door like a vicious animal.

“And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”  (Genesis 4:8)

After the sin of bitterness opened the door for resentment and bitterness the combination culminated in murder.  Scripture explicitly states that anger (and the bitterness it generates) will always be accompanied by a spirit of murder.

“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”  (1 John 3:15)

“And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment {is} greater than I can bear.

“Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, {that} every one that findeth me shall slay me.” (Genesis 4:13,14)

Because of this terrible deed Cain was driven out, doomed to be a wanderer, hidden from God.  An ungodly attitude toward others can produce actions which will seriously damage relationships with God.

“And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”   (Genesis 4:15)

Cain was so hated and defiled that others would turn on him.  One of the terrible results about bitterness which leads to murder is that it marks the host so that people turn on you.  This makes it very difficult to make friends and hinders all interpersonal relationships.

Bitter individuals leave trails of broken relationships with God and with others.  Bitterness caused a rift in Cain’s fellowship with God because of what the young man perceived as partiality toward his brother.  This was a wrong viewpoint but it caused him to explode in violence toward Abel.  Anger and resentment toward God repeatedly has surfaced as one of the biggest roots of spirits of Hidden Bitterness.

Angrily we demand, “God, why didn’t you hear my prayer?  God why didn’t you heal my mother?  God why didn’t you do this or that?  I stood on the Word.  I was taught that if I could stand on the Word that God is obligated to do something for me, and you didn’t do it.  It’s not fair and I am mad at you.”  This type of thinking sets us up to be prime candidates for tumbling into the occult!

Bitterness is quite a serious affliction.  It sets one up as a prime prospect for mysticism, the occult and all of the lies of New Age movement.  Multitudes of bitter Christians have been snared in these things.

A pastor testified that after eight years serving as a pastor in a Baptist church he left in disgust.  Bitterness and anger set him up to get caught in the intellectual, philosophical traps of the enemy.  Studies in psychology established Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers as his idols, with their theories of non directive counseling.

An ardent disciple, he plunged into these areas, never suspecting that he was dabbling in the occult.  From there he progressed into the use of hypnosis in his attempts to help people.  Beware! for there is no doubt that bitterness leads to and opens the door for the occult.  When you find someone in the occult you will find a person full of anger, bitterness and murder.

The first indication of bitterness in God’s people is found in Exodus just after Israel had left Egypt and had crossed the Red Sea by the supernatural power of God.  The glow of the deliverance from Pharaoh’s troops and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea seemed to fade into forgetfulness.  The moment difficulties reared their head, the faithfulness of God was quickly forgotten.  How like them we are!

“And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they {were} bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

“And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they {were} bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. ”

“And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

“And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, {which} when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,”   (Exodus 15:23-25)

Important principles are illustrated here.  They were unable to drink Marah’s bitter waters, yet God led them there.  First they were led through dry places for three days without water.  (Man can survive only three days without water!)   In our walk with the Lord we may often go through dry places.

These may test the very limits of our human endurance!  Our very wise God purposes these things to test and strengthen us spiritually, giving us an opportunity to grow in faith.  He also knows that you and I cannot grow until we can drink some bitter water and not spit it out.

In the book of Ruth, Boaz not only invited Ruth to eat but instructed her to sop her bread in the vinegar.  This was a type of identification with bitterness.  If we are to be successful in ministering to others there must be times when we partake of the vinegar!  Oftentimes we are identified with bitterness instead.  God knows that in order to grow, his people must be able to endure exposure to the dry places, the bitter waters and even learn to drink it.

In verse 24, the people responded wrongly, murmuring against Moses, angrily demanding to know what they are expected to drink.  So often we are the same when faced with some bitter ordeal.  We should be praising God for His sufficient grace; for the ability he gives to do all things through Christ.  Too often, we often join the whining, complaining multitude who cannot remember any provisions in the past.

Another common reaction is called projection, which means to throw the blame on someone else.  A popular form of this is a thinly veiled attack on God Himself; attacking God’s anointed leaders.  Frequently the essence of the problem is a failure to understand God’s way.  Today, as then, the Lord’s people perish for a lack of knowledge.

So much of today’s preaching is based upon faulty handling of the scripture.  The wide spread “Word-Faith prosperity” teaching has done much to stimulate greed and covetousness in the believers rather than a willingness to sacrifice and bear a cross.

Name it and claim it; blab it and grab it have become the watch words in popular religiosity.  What ever happened to leaving all to take up the cross and follow Jesus?  The cross has always been an instrument of torture and death, an emblem of suffering for that which is right.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any {man} will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  (Matthew 16:24)

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”  (Mark 8:34)

“One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”  (Mark 10:21)

“And he said to {them} all, If any {man} will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)

Marah’s bitter waters were cured by tossing a tree into the water to sweeten it.  That tree is a type of the cross.  The only way to deal successfully with our bitterness is at the cross.  We will never work our way free of bitterness, nor will we come to a time when we feel like forgiving!  What a waste to wait for what will never come.  All must come to Calvary and face that fact.  Also it is imperative to extend to others what has been lavished upon us, forgiveness!   We must forgive others who have disappointed or hurt us.

We may well have to say, “God You are perfect and cannot be wrong.  I confess I am wrong and You are right.  I now release this bitterness I am holding toward You and anyone else.  I hate and I renounce it in Jesus’ name.”

Biblical healing is revealed here at the place of bitter waters and God reveals His name as the healer, Jehovah Rafa.  There is a definite link between bitterness and infirmity here.  Behind almost every infirmity of the body look for the primary roots of bitterness.  These may not even originate in the sick victim (ie., babies and very young children).  What a terrible legacy to pass on to those over whom you have authority and for who you are spiritually responsible!

This blight does not only apply to cancer or arthritis but to practically all weakness, sickness and infirmities.  Bitterness and unforgiveness opens countless doors for attack on the victim.  When you pray for someone, first lead them to forgive others.  It will not hurt and might make the difference between success and failure.

“And they came to Elim, where {were} twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.  (Exodus 15:27)

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”(Matthew 5:38,39,41)

The Lord is discussing possible areas of bitterness.  Out on the highway, legally a Roman soldier could force a “provincial” to carry his baggage at least one mile.  Of course the Jews resented this bitterly.  When caught in such a situation you could grind your teeth, curse and rave under your breath.  At the end of the mile you could give the pack back to the soldier and glare at him with hatred and anger you dared not express openly.

Jesus offers an alternative whereby you cheerfully do that which you hate and resent.  At the end of the mile, you even offer to carry it what has come to be called the “second”  mile.  The whole matter is concerned with the attitude  taken toward doing mandatory hard or despised tasks.

When we approach the affairs and trials of life our attitudes can be a source of blessing or become a door through which evil spirits of unforgiveness and bitterness will pour in.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more {than others}? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:43,44,46-48)

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high {places}.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

We must never lose sight of the fact that our battle is NOT with flesh and blood.  It is with principalities and powers, world rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places, demonic kings, princes and ranks and ranks of lesser evil spirits.  Although they operate through and utilize human dupes we must always remember who is involved in the war.  We dare not forget this and put the battle on a flesh and blood level.  If we do, we will end up filled with bitterness and will lose the battle while we fight it.

In deliverance groups we must be constantly on guard against becoming embittered because of those who come to us from other churches seeking deliverance.  Often when talking with them you uncover a tale of abuse by pastors who should have been a helper.  We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of indignation.

Ignorance always promotes cruelty and lack of compassion for those who reach out for help.  Those who loftily announce that they are not “called” to do deliverance have not read closely what Jesus said to do.  These will either dump their deliverance load on you or will attack deliverance workers as being unscriptural.  Thus they seek to relieve the pressure on them to help the ones they are supposed to whom they should minister.  Remember that today so many are cowards and hirelings  not God-called shepherds.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. “If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither  will you heavenly father forgive you your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

“Judge not that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.  And why beholdest the mote that is in they brother’s eye but considerest the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say unto thy brother let me pull out the mote in thine eye and behold a beam is in thine own eye. Thou hypocrite!  First cast out the beam out of thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:1-5)

Then his lord….said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?  And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”  (Matthew 18:32-35)

When called to account for his stewardship, a servant was discovered to have embezzled an enormous amount of money.  His lord demanded that everything he had must be seized and he and his family sold into slavery for the debt.  Because he begged and pleaded for mercy his lord relented of his former decision.  Graciously he forgave all of the servant’s huge liability.

The servant who had received great grace in the forgiving of his tremendous theft went out rejoicing.  However, immediately he found a fellow servant who owed him a very small amount of money.  Seizing him by the throat he harshly demanded immediate payment.  Harshly he ignored his friend’s pitiful pleas for an extension and an opportunity to repay.  In verse 34 the disgraceful episode was reported to his lord.  Furious with the ungrateful servant, he ordered him seized and delivered him into the hands of the tormenters until he paid everything he owed.

“{Paul} To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also. For if I forgive anything to whom I forgave it for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)

We must take away the advantages given the enemy through unforgiveness and bitterness by closing these doors.  We can refuse to forgive, turn the other cheek and insist on judging and not going the extra mile.  This opens us up for the consequences, being delivered into the hands of tormenting spirits until we learn the lesson God is attempting to teach us.

In deliverance ministry there is a real danger of becoming fatigued and overtired; thereby we are more susceptible to the encroachments of bitterness.  Weariness can cause irritable questioning of the Lord.  “How many more people are there whose lives are in such a mess?  How much longer is this going to continue?  Where are the other Christian workers and why aren’t they doing anything to free the captives?  How many more times will this same person return and want prayer?

When this kind of harassment begins it is time to take a break.  Strictly confine deliverance sessions to periods when your group or church is meeting.  If you set up the sessions, set them at your convenience not theirs.  The ones seeking have lived for many years with the enemy tormenting them, so it is very unlikely that a few more days will kill them.  Always keep in mind that you did NOT cause their problem and do not allow them to make it your responsibility to solve it.

Hurting, demonically driven people can be selfish, demanding and highly inconsiderate of you and your needs.  They often approach with an attitude of, “Now I have these terrible problems and you can fix them, so drop everything and get busy!  I don’t really care about your problems, I need help and you are obligated to give it to me.”   If you let them they will drive you constantly to the very verge of collapse.

Do not permit them to “drop in”  at your house.  Insist that they call and ask about prayer.  We never advise praying with them over the phone either for three reasons:

First, there is no way to predict what reaction the prayer will produce in the person seeking it.  We certainly do not want the demon to cause wild manifestations and possible damage or injury to them or others.

Second, if you do deliverance on the phone, then prepare for the phone to grow out of your ear.  People will keep you on the phone continually, night and day.  Make up your mind that you will not deliver the world in a few weeks or months.  You are only equipped and energized to help certain ones.  If you shoot for everyone who hurts you will burn yourself out early.

Third, accept the fact that everyone who comes will not receive help.  Although it technically is possible for everyone to receive deliverance, for a variety of reasons they do not and will not.  They may be woefully unprepared to surrender to the Lord, thus blocking any significant help.  Do not let them put a guilt trip  on you.

They may be loaded with drugs and other spiritual blockage which will hinder or stop deliverance.  We have known of some who came repeatedly for prayer but received no significant help.  Impatient, they were angry because no matter what method was employed or who prayed for them nothing happened.  I had to conclude that the fault did not lie with the workers and methods.  After all, thousands have been helped at the church and through the tapes, videos and books.

Sometimes a person wants help just in order to be free of demonic torment and handicaps so they can return to doing their own thing.  Remember, God will not clean people up and fill them with steam so they can toot their whistle and ring their bell.  He does rescue and restore us so that we can pull freight for Jesus.

We freely admit that even after over twenty years in continuous full scale deliverance ministry we certainly do not know a great deal.  However the little we know and have proved by experience backed by the scriptures has been successful in freeing multitudes.  Not only at Hegewisch, but everywhere in world these same principles and methodsare applied the result is hope and freedom for multitudes.

“Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, looking diligently less any man fail of the grace of God lest any root of bitterness spring up and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14)

Notice, first, all bitterness affects your relationship with God.  We are to follow peace and holiness as a life practice.  If we fail to do this we will lack a clear view of the Lord, thus in a sense cutting us off from God.  Then it directly affects your relationship with yourself.  Failing to appropriate grace into your life can lead to a root of bitterness springing up within.

You will begin to turn in on yourself and become self critical, self condemned and rejected because of this evil root.  Notice it also says that this will cause many to be defiled.  Your relationship with others is definitely affected.  Bitterness does many harmful and hurtful things.  It tears the spirit; poisons the soul; brings in deception; leads to immorality, builds walls of isolation and leaves a trail of broken relationships.

If this description fits you, then search for hidden roots of bitterness which are poisoning you.  These are far more responsible for your troubles than any person or environmental situation you face.

“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”  (1 John 2:11)

Bitterness brings darkness into your life, and this produces hardness and insensitivity.  Immaturity and arrested development are also fostered for you cannot grow normally without interaction with other people in the body of Christ.  Bitter people cannot relate to others and continually break relationships.  They are sitting ducks for deception.

Some signs that these vicious spirits are working within can be spotted easily.  Some are constant criticism; judgmental attitudes; picking others to pieces and never being satisfied with anything or anybody.  This is a miserable state of affairs.  Other characteristic signs include: impatience, isolation, trying to be a loner and infirmity.  The root of that infirmity will be a bitter spirit.

Bitter people are also the world’s nit pickers, always seeking confrontations about things of little or trivial importance.  They are constantly having to talk about things; most of the time about something which in no way concerns them.

Obnoxiously nosing into others business makes them as popular as the itch.  People so driven are unable to develop any enduring, satisfying or fulfilling relationships.  Others feel it is not worth the ordeal of enduring endless arguments, questionings and continual prying into matters of little or no importance.

Irritability and a proneness to short temper and temper tantrums are also typical indications of bitterness.  Don’t lose your temper, no one else wants it!   In schizophrenia, the root of bitterness is surrounded by anger, hatred and murder.  Retaliation and Memory Recall spirits bring back details of all of those little hurtful things.  This causes a constant upset and discontent.

Trouble moving in the spiritual gifts can be because of a defiling root of bitterness which is grieving the Holy Spirit.  This will hinder His operating through you and also hinder your prayers.  Like Cain, you are hid from God.  This subtle poison stealthfully pollutes the entire mind will and the emotions!  (Ephesians 4:30,31)

The following is an excerpt from “Rooting Out Rejection and Hidden Bitterness, Booklet #44″ by Pastor Win Worley. Copyright © 1992 by Win Worley. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including storage and retrieval system, without securing permission in writing from the publisher, WRW Publications, PO Box 852626, Mesquite, TX 75185.

If you’d like to obtain your own copy of not only this, but other materials authored by Win Worley, please contact WRW Publications at www.wrwpublications.com

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