February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Part 2: The Devil
Verse 26, "be angry", Ephesians 4, "and do not sin. Be angry but don't sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger (don't feed it and let it fester), and give no opportunity to the devil. Again, this is demonic. "Let the thief no longer steal but rather let him labor doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with those in need. (Put off a sinful habit, put on a worshipful habit) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths but only as is good for building up as fits the occasion and may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who you were sealed for the day of redemption. (and here's the key). Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamorous slander but put away from you along with all malice."
This is a demonic passage. It starts with bitterness. You know that bitterness is a demonic foothold. The analogy here is to give the enemy no opportunity, no foothold (how does he say it here?) no opportunity to the devil. The analogy here is, some of your translations will say 'foothold', you think about it like a rock climber. Sheer wall. Says, "There's no way I can make it." All they need is a foothold. It's all they need. One foothold, now we're going. Another foothold, it doesn't take much, it just takes the right footholds for a rock climber to scale to whole new heights. Satan is like that. he's looking at you, he's looking at your life. He's saying, "Okay, where's the foothold? Where, where can I climb in your life and create more devastation and destruction?" What he's saying here is that bitterness is a foothold.
Now let me explain bitterness. I think probably half the counseling I've ever done includes bitterness. If I sin against you do I feel guilty and convicted or bitter? What do I feel? Do I feel guilty and convicted or bitter if I sin against you? I feel guilty and convicted. What about if you sin against me? Do I feel guilty and convicted or do I feel bitter? Bitter so bitterness, by definition, is a possession of the offended not the offender. That's why bitter people have a hard time seeing their bitterness. You say, "you're bitter." [Answer] "Of course I'm bitter. Do you know what they did to me?" Ah, keep working on this.
Bitterness happens in one of three ways: you sin against me, I don't forgive you, I'm bitter. 2. I THINK you sinned against me and I don't forgive you and I'm bitter.
How many of you have had somebody bitter against you, you didn't even do anything, they THOUGHT you did something. I mean this happens all the time. You meet with someone [who says], "I'm very angry with you."
"Cuz you said this and you did this."
"No, I didn't."
"Well that's what I THOUGHT you said."
"That's not what I said. I said this."
"How long have you been like this?"
Well, maybe days, weeks, months, years, decades. This whole time you've been carrying it around, you know what, it's not even true. You're wrong but the hurt was real because you perceived wrongly, you heard wrongly. This is why gossip, third-party innuendo, ah, email, right? All these ways of communicating are sometimes less than ideal.
So, I become bitter (use myself as an example) if you sin against me or I THINK you sinned against me and, thirdly, James speaks of bitter envy and selfish ambition. I'm bitter because I'm jealous. You have something I want. You do something I want to do. I'm jealous. I'm, and bitterness is jealousy. Guys who want to be elders, you tell them "No, you're not qualified" they get bitter. Say "Why do they hate you so much?" Because I told them "no". Why? Well they're jealous. They want to be elders or they wanto to be deacons or they want to be staff or they want to be leaders or they want things put together the way THEY want, they want the doctrine THEY want, they want the organizational structure THEY want, they want the ministries THEY want, they want the music THEY want, and you're not giving them the power and authority to do so and they're JEALOUS because you have the right to make those decisions and they don't. Bitterness comes out of jealousy and selfish ambition. You have power, money, control, access (whatever the economy is) and selfish ambition says, "I want that for me." This is the root of all kinds of bitter conflict in the church: you sin against me, I think you sind against me, or you're jealous and have selfish ambition. Bitter envy and selfish ambition, Jesus' brother James calls it.
Now what happens is, Hebrews says we need to dig up the root of bitterness. Bitterness goes deep down into the heart and into the soul and into the church. And he uses the analogy of a root. We need to dig up the root of bitterness otherwisse it will grow up, he says in Hebrews, and defile many. How many of you have, you know, tried to mow away the weeds in your yard? [chuckles] Say, "okay, I got `em all."
And then two days later, no you didn't. Unless you get the root you really don't change anything. It's just a matter of time. Bitterness needs to be dug up by the root otherwise it grows up and defiles many. It leads to gossip and slander and malice. We'll get into those kinds of issues. People start talking and discussing and infiltrating and other bitter people find them and next thing you know, well, you know.
So anyways, the way bitterness works, as well, is bitter people are prone to blame their bitterness on the person that they perceive offended them. Amy Carmichael. she's a missionary, her little book If, she gives this great analogy she says:
If I have a glass filled with sweet water and I bump it, what comes out? Sweet water. She says if I have a glass of bitter water and I bump it, what comes out? Bitter water.
All that sin against us, perceived sin against us, or bitter envy and selfish ambition by us reveal is what's already in our heart. The bitterness is IN there, and someone or some thing spilled it. And bitter people will say, "Look what you made me do. You made me sin, you made me gossip, you made me angry, you made me bitter, you made me fight, you made me run into conflict, you made me sin in my anger. Look what you made me do." And the answer is, "I didn't make you do anything. That was what was in your heart." I just bumped you. I just bumped you. The bitterness was in you. No one puts bitterness in us. When they bump us they expose it. But bitter people love to blame others for their bitterness.
How do you know you're bitter? Well, bitter people are archaeologists, quite frankly. They can talk about the past in excruciating detail. Some of you are married to bitter people and every time they don't get what they want, their feelings are hurt, you know you're going to hear THAT story again. "Well, on March 3, 1987 at 12 in the afternoon you were wearing that blue shirt that I hated. You looked at me and you said" and they quote you verbatim. You're like, "How do you remember that?" Because bitter people replay past events over and over and over. They become obsessive. G. K. Chesteron says the madman is not the one who doesn't understand things, the madman is the man who only thinks about one thing. It's obsession.
There are days of your life you don't even remember. There's years of your life you don't even remember. Second grade, you're like, "I don't know. It was second grade." But there are days that marked you and you remember and you replay them continually. Some will diagnose it as post-traumatic stress disorder, that you keep reliving a past event as if it were present, having the same physiological/emotional responses to it. It's like it's happening right now and it may be far in the past.
The people that we are most inclined to be bitter against are those that we give access to our heart. You are not very likely to get bitter against a complete stranger. Say somebody you've never met steals your car. You'll be frustrated, maybe angry, but not bitter because it doesn't feel personal. Now someone you KNOW; someone you love; someone you've given time or energy to, this is really not just for the counselee I think this is really important for the counselor. The person that you've met with for a while, you've prayed for, you've invested in, you've shed tears over, you've spoken truth into their life, you've served them. Those are the kind of people you're most likely to be bitter against because you expect something from them and when they fail to deliver you're disappointed and there's hurt. That means you're most likely to be bitter against your parents, your spouse, your friends, pastor, spiritual leader, deacon, community group leader, biblical counselor, coach, teacher, God. Your own children? Yep, and God.
Can you think of anybody in the Bible who was bitter against God? Naomi. Her name meant "sweet". She says: "Change my name to Mara, which means `bitter' because the Lord has made me very bitter." She blamed it on God. "God made me bitter. He put bitter water in my cup." No, He didn't. You put bitter water in your cup and then He bumped you and out it spilled. Now, as I preached in Ruth, Naomi confessed it and ran to God's people for help. That's what bitter people need to do. I'm bitter, I gotta go to God's people. I gotta get to a community group, I gotta get in a Redemption Group, I gotta go meet with a biblical counselor, I gotta go to God's people to get this figured out.
Now in saying that bitterness is demonic Paul is telling us that, again, this is how the enemy gets a foothold. If you think about it, how many people do you know that really are bitter? How many of you really are bitter [short pause] against someone, perhaps even God? Here's what Paul says if we don't dig up the root of bitterness occurs. Satan gets a handhold, a foothold, next thing you know it gets worse and worse and worse.
Verse 31, chapter 4 Ephesians, let all bitterness, right? That's, that's choosing "I'm not going to forgive you. I'm NOT going to forgive you." And wrath, this is where you're getting angry. You're getting mad, you're getting hot. It's getting personal. You're reliving it, you're thinking about what you'll say and what you'll do and how they did evil against you. That's where you start to obsess.
And anger. This is where officially you're furious. You're frustrated. You're unhappy. The bitterness is welling up and now, and now you're going to do something. And clamor, this is now where you're fighting with someone. You send a nasty email [chuckle], you leave the nasty voicemail, you cuss them out, you say something, you do something, you initiate conflict, "You hurt me now I'm gonna hurt you."
And slander, meaning, "Now I'm gonna talk to other people. I'm gonna tell `em what you did. I'm going to tell them how I feel. I'm gonna, I'm gonna have them join my cause. We're gonna get you, we're gonna pay you back. We're gonna make you hurt. I bet there's other people you've said things about. I bet there's other people that you've hurt their feelings. I'm gonna find them. I'm gonna have them sympathize with me and we're going to oppose you." Just so you know, this is my life that's why I speak it with such clarity.
Put those away from you, he says, along with every form of malice. Malice is where bitterness is not dealt with, it runs its life cycle, and malice (some of your translations will say) "every form or kind of evil". That's where you start inventing ways to get them. This is where you are in a lose-lose scenario, like: "I don't care if I lose, I don't care if I look bad, I don't care if I do evil, I just wanna get them. I willing to lose if they lose." It's lose-lose. That's every form of malice.
And then people start coming up with, you say "How in the world ... why did you do that?" Well, because in Proverbs sin is also described as foolishness or folly. Bitter people are kind of crazy. This is the crazy girlfriend who slashes tires, this is the bizzare boyfriend who starts physically restraining his girlfriend in the house telling her she can never leave or he'll kill her. This is all kinds of malice. This is the person who runs off and has sex with her spouse's best friend not because they even like them but just to get them back to dig on them. I mean this gets really ugly.
I've seen it where this is the husband who is sitting at home watching pornography. His wife walks in, he doesn't even turn it off. She asks, "What are you doing?" [and he replies] "I'm watching attractive women." I had this counseling appointment with one guy. The wife says "I can't believe you're doing that." He's like: "Could you shut up? I can't hear the porn." That's malice. That's malice. Malice is dark. Malice is evil. Malice is "I'm gonna give a lot of time, maybe even energy, maybe even money to hurt you. That's what I'm doing."
Now where does this all start? Where does this whole demonic cycle start? Bitterness. How many of you coming in here wouldn't have assumed that bitterness was a demonic scheme? Again 2 Corinthians 2:11, Satan won't outwit us if we know his schemes. Some of them, you know, God convicts them of sin but Satan hangs bitterness on the hook. Be bitter, bite. Okay. Great. This is gonna get ugly. It's gonna get worse.
If you fail to repent of bitterness it escalates until there's all kinds of malice. All kinds of malice.
So how do you deal with bitterness? Well, verse 32 he tells us the Gospel of Jesus is how we deal with bitterness. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. He says, "You know what? We've all sinned against God." God's very angry about our sin but God also sent His son the Lord Jesus Christ, and our sin was placed upon Jesus, and the wrath of God was propitiated (that's the word the New Testament uses four times), the wrath of God was taken from us by Jesus' death in our place for our sin. The result is, today, for those who are in Jesus, God is kind and tender-hearted and loving and merciful and compassionate with us and aren't you glad that God isn't bitter against you? Can you imagine what life would be like if God decided "I'm just going to be bitter against you"? "I'm gonna have rage and anger and slander and every form of malice" If God decided, "I'm gonna tell everybody you ever, everything you ever thought or done that's wrong, and I'm gonna make it my life's ambition to destroy you. And I'm gonna invent creative sadistic ways of making you pay"? Imagine what life would be like if ours was a bitter god? It's terrifying.
What he says is, if you're a Christian and God, through Jesus Christ, is not bitter with you but forgives you then you must use the Gospel in your relationships to forgive other people. You have no reason to be bitter with them. In being bitter with them what you are saying is, "I refuse to use the Gospel for my relationships. I refuse to allow Jesus to do anything." And when you say that you ARE saying, "I am inviting Satan instead."
We began this whole discussion saying "Do not give the Devil a foothold." Bitterness gives him a foothold and it leads to death and destruction. How many of you are truly bitter against God because you don't have the spiritual office, authority, power, income that you want? Things aren't going the way that YOU want. The spouse that you wanted you didn't get. The spouse you thought you were getting ISN'T the way they appear. The sex, the children, the money, the power, the health, the appearance that YOU wanted but you didn't get so, deep down, you're really unhappy with God, you feel like He kinda let you down. That's bitterness.
How many of you are bitter against people? There are certain people, you don't want to see them. There are certain people you can't even talk to them, you can't look at them, you avoid them, you can't even talk ABOUT them. If someone asks, "Hey, have you seen so-and-so?" because they're unaware of your bitterness, it just comes at you like, "You know, that son of a--you know what they did? You know what they said?--" All of a sudden the anger rises up and leads you into sin and all kinds of gossip and slander and sin.
Bitterness is demonic. That's why Hebrews says pull up the root of bitterness before it grows up and defiles the whole church. Everybody gets infected by it. It's an epidemic. It's an epidemic. That's why whole churches and religious groups and movements sometimes define themselves by what they're against. We are against this. We're against this. We're against this and all the bitter people show up and say, "I hate what you hate." We're to hate what God hates and to love what God loves, and ultimately we're to build our unity around the love of Jesus not just the opposition for all of the people and things that have embittered us. Does that make sense?
The ordinary demonic.