Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Forgiveness Or Bitterness?

Temple Baptist Church - 5-4-2011

Ephesians 4:31-32


A. I have spent several weeks dealing with the subject “How To Get Along In The Church.” The context of these verses certainly lies within the realm of the local church. I will make applications along with the proper interpretation of the text.

B. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul dealt with a sinful church member in light of church discipline. He was put out of the church—which is scriptural—and turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. Later, the sinful man evidently got right with the Lord and was not properly restored through forgiveness. The sinful got right and the church got wrong! Paul dealt with the church’s sin in 2 Corinthians 9.

C. Unforgiveness is sin! We need to first make that plain as it is not only a sin against the perpetrator but is also a sin against the Lord. Sin not confessed will always bring about the judgment of God.

D. The Bible gives an analogy of the extent of our forgiveness that we are to extend to those who offend or hurt us. “Even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” God has forgiven us all and completely. He never brings it up again. Our sins are gone from His sight.

E. I want to look at the progression of bitterness, the product of bitterness, and the protection against bitterness. Bitterness will destroy you and defile everyone around you. It must be avoided or dealt with in a scriptural manner.

1. The Progression Of Bitterness

a. Wrong produces Hurt! When someone intentionally wrongs a person, the person wronged almost invariably is hurt by it. The wrong can be verbal attack or slander; it can be defraud or deceit; it can be a number of other wrongs but the end is normally hurt.

b. Hurt produces Anger! There comes a time when the hurt begins to change and anger at the wrong doer wells up in the heart of an individual. If hurt is not handled properly, then anger becomes the result. Uncontrolled anger will eventually bring about wrath which, by my definition, is anger put to use. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

c. Anger produces Bitterness! Bitterness begins as an invisible root—no matter how small—but eventually brings forth fruit. Bitterness does not go away by itself. Bitterness must be dealt with in a scriptural manner in order to have a godly end.

2. The Product Of Bitterness

a. It gives Satan an advantage! 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; (11) Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (Bitterness is a satanic stronghold in the heart of a believer.)

b. It troubles the unforgiving. 2 Corinthians 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. (Reconciliation and renewed fellowship depend upon two elements.)

1) Repentance by the perpetrator! You can forgive him completely and yet fellowship cannot be restored. The bible says that we are to forgive 70 times 7 when they repent. You can love, do good, and pray for them but it will remain at a distance.

2) Forgiveness by the victim! No matter how the perpetrator repents and tries to make amends, he or she cannot reconcile or fellowship with an unforgiving victim.

3. There can be wrong done by both: by the perpetrator when he or she offends and by the victim when they refuse to forgive.

c. It defiles those whom we love. (Those who we love and are around then become the victims as our bitterness defiles the innocent.)

3. The Protection Against Bitterness

a. Realization - vs. 31 We need to learn to recognize the symptoms of Unforgiveness and bitterness. Then, LET these things be put away. We cannot be right with either God or our brethren when we have these things in our lives.

b. Resolve - vs. 32 We need to show forgiveness and kindness to those who have injured us. The Bible says to pray for them and to do good to them who wrong you.

c. Remember - vs. 32 Forgiveness is as much for us as it is for those who have hurt us. They may never get right; they may never ask for forgiveness; but we can have the peace of God in our hearts that we have done that which is right. “A clear conscience makes for a soft pillow!”

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