~ by Mark Maulding
A few years ago, a very good friend of mine came to me with a deep struggle. He lived a godly life as he daily tapped into the life-giving grace we all possess in Christ. His problem was that he had legitimately forgiven some people who had beaten him down with with a flurry of hurtful blows from gossip and lies. Yet, his soul was still weighed down with a heaviness he just couldn’t put his finger on. My heart definitely went out to him, but I knew he needed more than compassion. He needed God’s truth if he was going to be free from this struggle.
The Holy Spirit had actually been giving me a deeper understanding about bitterness and resentment in my own life just a few weeks before. That is often what He does, isn’t it? He shows us the way to freedom so we can help others with a similar struggle, just like 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV) “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
I told him I thought I knew what his problem was and that God was about to remove this weight from his soul. First, I double checked to make certain he had told his Father two things: all of the things these people had said about him; how each sin against him had made him feel. Next, I asked him if he had released each person from the debt they owed him. Then, I went for what I thought was his real issue. I asked him if he had confessed his sin of bitterness to the Lord. He acted a little surprised at my inquiry but then sheepishly had to admit he had not.
Before I go any further, I think I need to communicate some important truths about confession of sin. (Confession means to tell God any sin He shows us and then to repent of it, meaning we turn to Jesus and ask Him to live through us as our only hope of not repeating that sin.) There are two errors we can fall into in this part of our relationship with God.
- We can confess our sins believing we get more forgiveness from God. In proclaiming that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ in Ephesians 1:3, God includes our complete forgiveness for all past, present and future sins in the following list of those blessings in Ephesians 1:7.
Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) “7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”
- The other error we can fall into is believing that because of our complete forgiveness, we have no need to confess our sins to God ever. Sometimes, one of the great challenges we have in our counseling is getting people to take responsibility for particular sins which are a part of their fleshly strategies for living.
Now, back to my counseling session with my friend. He was willing to live from his identity in Christ as a child of God, who is being corrected by His loving heavenly Father, and confess his bitterness as sin. He wanted to pray out loud with me as a friend, and he did just that. At the end, he thanked God that Jesus had already forgiven him on the cross for his bitterness then said, “Amen.”
The moment he opened his eyes, he blurted out,
“That is amazing! It’s gone! The weight of the struggle inside me is gone. I feel free and at peace.”
Where are you today? Maybe you read my blog last week and spent some serious time forgiving people who have wounded you. But did you deal with your own bitterness? It could be bitterness towards some people, yourself or even God. Did you take that to the Lord as well? If not, let me encourage you to take just a moment and pray right now whether you are at home, at work or anywhere else. Tell your Father you have held bitterness inside and that you are ready to get rid of it. Tell Him that you now realize that your bitterness is sin. Tell Him you are confident Jesus died for your sin of bitterness and affirm His forgiveness for it. Finally, turn to Christ in you and ask Him to live through you since He is our only hope for not trafficking in the dark world of bitterness again. My prayer is that this lifts a weight off of your soul that you may have carried for along time.
Believe it! It’s the Gospel.
Live Free In Christ,
Mark Maulding, President and Founder
www.GraceLifeInternational.com All Content Copyright © 2016 Mark Maulding but feel free to pass it on!