Title: Ruth: 1:20-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 12 - selfish ambition, unrighteousness, ignorance - Christ set us free from them.
Continuing in our study, we come across a man who has ambitious desire, even when he is confronted with the power of God. His ambition knows no boundaries since he will even seek to gain God's power for selfish, ambitious purposes.
A man called Simon was said to be in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity when he desired the power of an apostle for the reason of promoting himself.
Simon is an example of contrast to the new creature described in COL 3:12-17.
ACT 8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,
ACT 8:15 who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
ACT 8:16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
ACT 8:17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
It is likely that God delayed their receiving the Holy Spirit until the apostles arrived so as to establish their authority in the region and also their teaching of the truth.
ACT 8:18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
ACT 8:19 saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
Simon's selfish ambition causes him to spit upon the grace and power of God, as if the authority of the apostles was only to bring them recognition and self-promotion.
The apostle is a leader during the birth of the church. He is a pillar of the church, standing upon the foundation of Christ. He has a great responsibility to lead, teach, and feed the body of Christ, and so is an extremely high calling in the ministry of serving others with deep humility. The apostles were not made as such so that the church could have figureheads.
ACT 8:20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
ACT 8:21 "You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
ACT 8:22 "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.
ACT 8:23 "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."
ACT 8:24 But Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
Peter's prayer is obviously not going to change Simon's greed and lust for approbation.
Greed will always bring bitterness. Be content with what you have.
1TI 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.
"godliness" - euvse,beia[eusebeia] = literally "well devoted." Translated as pious, devotion, godliness. Completely sold out for the plan of God.
What would devotion be without contentment? It may mean being devoted to the wrong thing, or a desire for devotion without actually putting my life God's hands. Contentment would be the opposite of want and so would be a state of mind in which bitterness was impossible.
1TI 6:7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
This is good to remember when tempted to bitterness or in bitterness. The thing that I want is not mine. The thing that I want is not going with me when I exit this world. Therefore, the thing that I want is not necessary. I can be quite content without it; maintaining my peace.
1TI 6:8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
1TI 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
1TI 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.
Bitterness is the natural condition of the fallen human race.
ROM 3:10 as it is written [Psa 14/53],
"There is none righteous, not even one;
ROM 3:11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
ROM 3:12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one."
ROM 3:13 "Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,"
"The poison of asps [famous Egyptian cobra] is under their lips";
As the venomous snake folds its fangs under its upper jaw, only to come out when it's about to strike, so man's deception is hidden until ready to strike.
"Their mouth (words) is like the odor of a newly opened grave." [Robertson]
This would be especially significant to those who lived in the hot climate of the Middle East. Martha was very concerned of the odor that was going to emanate from Lazarus' tomb.
ROM 3:14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness";
Bitterness results from unrighteousness and lack of wisdom due to our turning aside from the Lord. The solution can only be to return to Him, which Christ has made possible.
The bitterness and cursing against others that comes out of the mouth is highly criticized by the Lord.
MAT 12:34 "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
The context is their accusation that His divine power to cast out demons was from the devil.
MAT 12:35 "The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil.
ROM 3:14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness";
ROM 3:15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood,
ROM 3:16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
"Wherever they go, you can trace them by the ruin and distress they leave behind." [Denney