Title: Ruth: 1:20-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 15 - rejecting God's grace will result in bitterness.
HEB 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
Holy is a life set apart unto Him, unto your intimate Friend. So then, as those who pursue holiness:
HEB 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
The failure to appropriate grace during time of suffering or trial causes a root to grow in the soul that has no belonging to the new nature. Bitterness is the product.
It is clear that this is addressed to believers who are free to walk in the grace of God. In times of temptation we need to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
I would personally venture to suggest that one of the bigger points of failure in this is to not diligently pursuing to remain in the grace of God when dealing with bad situations. It is almost as if, even for a short time, we believe that we have the right to step out of the grace of God to deal with it.
A believer who fails to resist strong temptation knows nothing of the power of it, and so he is limited on his understanding of the power of Christ.
The believer who consistently gives in to strong temptation cannot understand its power. You don't find out the strength of an opposing army by surrendering to it - you have to fight it to the end. No army knows it's own strength unless it fights another very strong army. The believer only overcomes through the power of Christ, but if he never uses that power in the face of strong temptation, then he never really understands the extent of Christ's power.
It may also be that we forget who we are in Him and immediately react with emotion and bitterness. That was the old man, not the new.
Another related passage to our own is in Gal 5 - "you have fallen from grace."
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
GAL 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
There is more to this verse than meets the eye. We have to understand what the Galatians were doing if we are going to understand what Paul means by freedom and slavery.
First, we have the exhortation to stand firm. Several times in the NT we read of it.
“stand firm… in the faith, against the schemes of the devil, resist in the evil day, in the Lord, and hold the traditions, in grace, in one spirit.”
Stand firm in the freedom that Christ has given us. We are free to walk in His plan, to love, to do good, to have joy, to be fulfilled. We are free to walk in righteousness and we are free from sin and fear. We are free from the power of the old man and we have been freed from bondage to the Mosaic Law. To go back to a life that we have been set free from is to return to our old slavery. What man who has been freed from a horrible taskmaster willfully returns to him?
Similarly we find the phrase “hold fast.”
“hold fast … the word, to that which is good, our confidence, our assurance, our confession, our hope, His name.”
The Galatians have put themselves under the Law. As we know, the Law is holy and it is full of the ethics which we are called to live under. It calls for righteousness, holiness, love of God and neighbor, etc. So what’s the big deal? The Galatians are likely living good, clean, moral lives.
However, those under the Law are children without freedom. They do what they do in order to avoid the curses of the Law. They do not have the freedom of movement and self-determination that an adult has, and in the grace of the New Covenant, we are no longer children, but adult sons. We have freedom.
We do not do what is right simply because it is commanded and we wish to avoid the pain of the curse (slavery). We do simply because of the fact that it is right and that pleases us and the Lord (freedom).
The former way is the way of the child who is under guardians. The latter way of the adult who has freedom. Every believer is to have this freedom. He is to know what goodness is, why it is good, understand its goodness well, and love goodness for its own sake. That is freedom, and the free believer does things out of love and not fear. We do not do because we are afraid of the consequences if we don’t.
Sometimes God has to treat us like children (discipline) so that we will learn that we are adults and that we will see the beauty of the adult spiritual life of freedom.
Now, often we have to learn by avoidance of pain. In other words, God has to treat us like children so that we will learn that we are adults. He treats us like children when He disciplines us. When we learn, we start acting like the adults we are. Why do we learn under discipline? We simply want out of the pain. We find ourselves forcing ourselves to walk in righteousness so that the pain will go away.
Communion Jan 7:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are downtrodden,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."
The favorable year of the Lord is likely a reference to the Year of Jubilee when a trumpet was blown and liberty was proclaimed throughout the land.
Jesus, through His body and His blood has set us free from sin and death and law, and He has given us freedom to live and do out of love and agreement, and not out of fear of punishment, but out of love for Him as our most intimate friend, without fear of failure or even death.
Imagine languishing in a dark prison dungeon for many years, having lost all hope of release or of seeing the blue sky or the bright sun again, or feeling a fresh breeze upon your face, and then, without any announcement or expectation, a man comes to your prison door, on the other side of the bars, so close but yet so far, and He says to you, “I have come to set you free. I have paid your ransom. And not only this, I am going to cause you to be with Me all of your days, and I will teach you the way of righteousness and light. I will make you wise and strong. I will fill your soul with so much joy, it will feel close to bursting. I will be your intimate and dearest friend forever.” And the sound of iron bolts clang, and the sound of dormant hinges creek in movement as the door swings wide and a scared hand reaches out to yours. There is no trepidation, you feel only freedom and comfort. It is clear in His face that there are no tricks or hidden costs, but only pure freedom of a kind you could have never dreamt. “Come to Me all of you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Sound the horn and be jubilant, for we are free.