A Root of Bitterness

by David J. Stewart

"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." —Hebrews 12:15

 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood." —Deuteronomy 29:18

Hebrews 12:15 is a quote from the Old Testament, from Deuteronomy 29:18. There is a great spiritual lesson to be learned from these verses. 

First of all, Hebrews 12:15 is not speaking about being bitter. People often think this verse is speaking about people who become bitter. Though these verses would definitely apply to a bitter person, it is not speaking about bitterness. So then what is Hebrews 12:15 referring to?

It is referring to a backslidden believer, a believer who goes into sin. When we go into sin as a Christian, we poison the people around us. Notice I said "goes" into sin, not "falls" into sin. No one falls into sin, we choose to sin. When we choose to sin, others are affected by us.

"Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good" -Ecclesiastes 9:18

Many churches have been hurt (even destroyed) from within by someone who went into sin, depending on who the person was. Many churches have been destroyed because their pastor chose to sin. Some churches have had their reputation tarnished so bad that they chose to close their doors. Sin destroys! Sin separates! Sin cripples! Oh that believers would live like Christians, reflecting the image of Christ to the community around them. 

A believer who lives in sin discourages and tempts other believers to do the same. We should want to be an encouragement to our fellow believers, not a stumbling block. Let's look at our main verse again...

 "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;" -Hebrews 12:15

Balaam in the Old Testament led many of the Israelites into sin. We must not allow Satan to use us to poison others. You are the best Jesus that somebody knows. Did you understand that? You are the best Jesus that somebody knows. You're the only Jesus that someone knows too. I guarantee you that there is somebody watching you who doesn't know any other Christians. What do they see? Do they see Jesus or do they see Lot? Do they see Daniel or do they see Peter denying Christ?

Are you a root of bitterness (poison to those around you spiritually)? A root springs up eventually into a plant. What type of fruit will that plant bare? Poison Ivy? Please be careful what you say and do because your testimony does effect those around you.

Also, we must continually be on guard in our homes and churches for those "roots" of sin that often spring up. The Devil is always trying to sneak in one way or another. The Devil is a master of poisons. We must be "diligent" in guarding our loved ones. The Bible says that strife is like water leaking from a dam. 

You can stop the leak when it is small, but try stopping the leak when it has broken through completely. "Nip it in the bud" as the saying goes. We must do our best to stop the Devil in his tracks. I remember when a relative bought a pair of high-heel shoes for my 11 year old daughter. I told her to take them back to the store. I felt they were not appropriate for a young girl to wear. 

One day I heard the same relative tell my daughter that a person's birthday determines their gifts in life. I stopped her immediately and said, "That's New Age garbage, please don't bring that into my home." That's what we all need to do, i.e., take a stand for what is true and right. We all adopt wrong thinking at times since we are surrounded by heresy in society. Peter told Jesus that he would fight to the death to prevent Him from being crucified. Jesus called Peter, Satan, because Peter had adopted some demonic thinking (Mark 8:33). May we all SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES as Jesus commanded in John 5:39 so that we can try (test) the spirits as 1st John 4:1 teaches.

My relative had gotten into astrology. By the way, astrology is witchcraft. All New Age is witchcraft. Witchcraft is seeking help or guidance from spiritual sources other than God or His Word. Yoga is witchcraft. Palm reading is witchcraft. Séances are witchcraft. Horoscopes are witchcraft. I wasn't trying to be mean to my relative, but the Devil had crept into her life and I didn't want her influencing my family for wrong. 

A root of bitterness can destroy a person, a family, a church, or a nation. The Federal Reserve system which was started in 1913 is a root of bitterness. It has been the downfall of this great nation financially. Abortion is a root of bitterness. Alcohol is a root of bitterness, it has destroyed countless millions upon millions of lives. Playboy is a root of bitterness, which has destroyed marriages and families all across the world. These are the poisonous roots of evil which destroy lives and ultimately bring God's judgment (Romans 1:32). Hollywood is a root of bitterness. Walt Disney is a root of bitterness. MTV is a root of bitterness. CMT is a root of bitterness. Cigarettes are a root of bitterness. 

Illegal drugs are a root of bitterness. The corrupt Pharmaceutical industry is a root of bitterness. Corrupt and evil politicians are a root of bitterness. Crooked judges are a root of bitterness. The Council on Foreign Relations is a root of bitterness. The United Nations is a root of bitterness. The World Bank is a root of bitterness. The IMF organization is a root of bitterness. Gambling is a root of bitterness. Public schools are a root of bitterness. 

The Catholic religion is a root of bitterness. The New International Version of the Bible is a root of bitterness. The American Standard version of the Bible is a root of bitterness. The National Council of Churches is a root of bitterness. Sodomy is a root of bitterness. These are ALL deadly poisons. 

Yes, there are a lot of poisons in our society... we must be diligent to safeguard our loved ones and our selves from them. God help us!