BITTER ROOTS

Seven months ago, before learning more and committing to trust God alone in the face of medical issues, I had a tooth extracted. When the tooth was pulled out, it created a “sinus connection,” something I’d never heard of before. The dentist explained that when the tooth came out, it “put a small hole” in my sinus, and “a tiny piece of the tooth’s root broke off and went up inside.” The resulting chronic infection flare-ups and wrestling with the healing process for the last seven months has brought to my awareness something I believe is crucial to the Body of Christ.

Without Jesus Christ, we are a foul stench in the nostrils of God. There is nothing redeeming about us. We are selfish and prideful and obstinate and wretched. By God’s grace though, He reaches down into that wretchedness of His children’s lives, removes the veil from our eyes and ears, and makes us aware of our complete vanity and depravity without Him.

If we take heed and listen, He guides us to truly come to the end of ourselves and die. He leads us to repent fully, to turn away from our own ways and even our own self. He urges us to follow Jesus Christ in death and burial by baptism in water, raises us up to new life, and fills us with His Holy Spirit. This is when life truly begins. It is a complete restoration to the way He planned for things to be between us and Him. It is a transferral of citizenship from the kingdom of darkness and this earth, to the Kingdom of God.

After obeying Him in this, we notice our sins are no longer chains. He frees us, and we are driven now to glorify God with our thoughts, words and actions. We’re no longer living for self. When a fleeting destructive thought approaches, we take it captive immediately in obedience to Christ, and begin learning how to renew our minds thoroughly with the Word of God.

After a while, when our outward sins have been proven crucified, the LORD digs deeper and dredges up any lingering rottenness of our Adamic sin nature. He lets us see flashes of our own nasty attitudes, and we are disgusted by these BITTER ROOTS of quick-temperedness, anger, jealousy, pride, judmentalism, dissension, discontent, murmuring, ungratefulness, etc….

Again, we run to our Father God and seek Him desperately for deliverance from these new evidences of self and the dust of this earth, and we repent over not only our sinful actions, but now our sinful attitudes as well. There is a greater sanctification available for the people of God! The redemption and reconciliation between God and man which Jesus Christ purchased with His own sacrifice runs deeper than we think! “IT IS FINISHED!” means EVERYTHING!!

The enemy wants the people of God to stay ignorant and bound in whatever way possible, but the TRUTH is, Jesus paid the COMPLETE price to redeem us back from sin and death COMPLETELY, and even our attitudes and responses can be PURE and RIGHT before the LORD! The PEACE and REST of God are truly available to us TODAY!

…. To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions…. But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere, for we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter it is an aroma [wafting] from death to death [a fatal odor, the smell of doom]; to the former it is an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is qualified (fit and sufficient) for these things? [Who is able for such a ministry? We?] For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God. (2 Corinthians 2:11,14-17)

Anything less than complete surrender to God of all thought, word, action, motive and attitude becomes a fertile ground for bitter roots instead. It’s a “shortchanging and adulterating of the divine message” of the Gospel, and makes us nothing more than “hucksters making a trade of peddling God’s Word.” There is no power when we do things in our own strength, but when we speak forth God’s message of Jesus Christ with “sincerity and the purest motive, as commissioned and sent by God,” the Holy Spirit sends it forth as a powerful message of life and death, according to where each hearer stands with God. The LORD empowers and produces rich fruit through His message when we are not in His way.

For though I am away from you in body, yet I am with you in spirit, delighted at the sight of your [standing shoulder to shoulder in such] orderly array and the firmness and the solid front and steadfastness of your faith in Christ [that leaning of the entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness]. As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the LORD, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expressions of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power]. In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). [Thus, you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands], He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross. [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]. (Colossians 2:5-15)

With “steadfast faith” and “absolute trust and confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness” of Jesus Christ, knowing and resting in the fact that God “disarmed all principalities and powers” and “triumphed over them through Jesus on the cross,” grows good, strong, healthy roots, instead of the bitter roots of the “vain deceit” of “man’s ideas” and “human tradition.” It’s a perpetual cycle, either way we walk….. Walking in God’s ways, empowered by His Holy Spirit, produces strength, good fruit and life. Walking in our own ways, in our flesh, produces bitterness, futility and death.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]; sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices]. But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things; anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, and have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it…. Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the LORD has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony]. And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]. Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts. And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the LORD Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him…. Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]. (Colossians 3:1-10,12-17,4:6)

There is a big stumbling block in the Body of Christ – how we speak to and treat each other. Instead of the “peace of Christ,” there is selfishness, bickering and strife. Instead of “gracious speech at all times,” there is defensive argumentativeness. Gossip and slander are being thrown around like grenades by those claiming to know Jesus Christ. What are we thinking? These are bitter, bitter roots. How can we speak or even think this way, and still claim to belong to Jesus Christ, Who humbled Himself even to the point of death?

In this Scripture passage above from Colossians, we can see what is from God, and what is not.

Our ways – produce the roots and fruits of evil desire, animal impulses, sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, greed, covetousness, idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God), anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses, slander, foulmouthed abuse, shameful utterances, lying, and all evil practices of the old unregenerate self.

God’s ways – produce the roots and fruits of behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feelings, a lowly opinion of one’s self, gentle ways, tireless and long-suffering patience which endures whatever comes with a good temper, gentleness, forbearance, ready pardon of any grievance or complaint, forgiving as Christ has forgiven us, love, harmony, peace, thankfulness, praise to God, hearts and teaching filled with God’s Word (and its insight, intelligence and wisdom), mouths filled with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with His grace in our hearts.

So then, brethren, consecrated and set apart for God, who share in the heavenly calling, [thoughtfully and attentively] consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest Whom we confessed [as ours when we embraced the Christian faith]. [See how] faithful He was to Him Who appointed Him [Apostle and High Priest]….Christ (the Messiah) was faithful over His [own Father’s] house as a Son [and Master of it]. And it is we who are [now members] of this house, if we hold fast and firm to the end our joyful and exultant confidence and sense of triumph in our hope [in Christ]. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says; “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as [happened] in the rebellion [of Israel] and their provocation and embitterment [of Me] in the day of testing in the wilderness. Where your fathers tried [My patience] and tested [My forbearance] and found I stood their test, and they saw My works for forty years. And so I was provoked (displeased and sorely grieved) with that generation, and said, ‘They always err and are led astray in their hearts, and they have not perceived or recognized My ways and become progressively better and more experimentally and intimately acquainted with them. Accordingly, I swore in My wrath and indignation, ‘They shall not enter into My rest.'” [Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God. (Hebrews 3:1-2a,6-12)

In any situation, whether it be in action or in attitude, if we are not “perceiving and recognizing God’s ways,” and not “becoming progressively better and more experimentally and intimately acquainted with His ways,” we are exhibiting an “unbelieving heart which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on” God. We are choosing instead to “turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.” This is ultimately choosing to trust in ourselves instead of in God. Any way in which we’re doing this is a grave concern and a bitter root that must be dug up and purged.

We must acknowledge any roots of bitterness He is revealing to us now and repent! May we lay all bitter roots down at His feet, truly repent of them, turn from them and determine to have no part with them any longer, and let Him have complete control of all things from now on! He promises that: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (I John 1:9)

Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice], so that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit]. For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit, set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. (Romans 8:1-6)

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