Unforgiveness And Bitterness
In this study we want to look at the way, in one way at least, in which, Satan seeks to find an entry into our life. You know that the devil is out to destroy us and, if we give him any slight entry into our life, in any area, he is going to take over many other areas as well. So we need to be careful.
Let us turn to 2 Corinthians 2:11. I want to give you a little background to what we are going to read here, so that we understand this verse. When Paul wrote the first letter to the Christians in Corinth, he had heard that there were some serious sins in that church, that they hadn't judged, and a particular man who was living in that sin was not disciplined. So Paul wrote concerning that to the Corinthians (in 1 Corinthians 5) and told them that the sin that particular man has committed was so serious that he needed to be put out of the church altogether. Yes, it is true. Some sins require that a man be disciplined so severely, that he will be put out or excommunicated from the church altogether. That may sound harsh, but the purpose is to save his soul, and in this particular case, it did save his soul. Because, we read a little later, when Paul wrote the 2nd letter to the Corinthians, maybe a year later, you find that the man had repented.
When he was put out of the church, he realized the seriousness of sin a little more. He realized how terrible it is to be out in the darkness without fellowship and that brought him to repentance. As long as he was sitting in the church and breaking bread, he never realized the seriousness of sin.
Some people realize the seriousness of sin only when they are put out of the church.
And, so also with this man and he realized it. But now what was happening was that some of these Corinthian believers, and elders perhaps, went to the other extreme. At first they were at one extreme where they tolerated sin and were first class compromisers. Now they went to the other extreme where they became self-righteous Pharisees. They wouldn't even accept this man, even after he had repented, had set matters right, given up on his sin, and had given every evidence of repentance. They still would not accept him.
So Paul had to write to them again and he said in 2 Corinthians 2:10, "Whom you pardon anything, I also pardon. For indeed what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, I did it for your sakes in the person of Christ." So he says that this man has already suffered the punishment or the rebuke: "Sufficient for such a one is this rebuke which was given by the majority" (2 Corinthians 2:6). What was the rebuke? The rebuke was that the people in the church would have no more fellowship with him. He experienced that now for a whole year. Now what should you do? You should forgive him and comfort him, lest somehow he be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So he says forgive him now and receive him because he has really repented. Even though he had brought a bad name to the church in the past, since now he has repented, forgive him. Then Paul says these words, in verse 11; "In order that Satan should not get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
So what do we see here? We see that,
when you don't forgive somebody, Satan can take advantage of you.
That is the message we need to get from this passage. And he says, 'We are not ignorant of Satan's scheme, so let me urge you, don't be ignorant of Satan's plan.' We need to be more afraid of Satan as a deceiver, than as a persecutor. Satan may try to persecute us, but that won't harm us as much as when he tries to deceive us. Satan is very, very subtle, very, very clever. He will nurse in your heart, and take care that you keep in your heart, an unforgiving bitter attitude towards someone, so that he can finally destroy you. This is far more deep rooted than we imagine. The Bible speaks in Hebrews 12, about a root of bitterness that can cause trouble. You don't have to wait till it becomes fruit. You know what a root is. When a tree has started taking root, it is probably not even come up above the surface of the ground. Nothing is visible. When you plant a seed in the ground, first of all it takes root before it comes up.
Bitterness is like that. You sowed something in your heart and it is beginning to take root. If you don't pull it out, it is taking root and it will cause a lot of trouble. Not only that a lot of trouble to you, first of all, but many other people can be defiled. Many people can get that infection, because the person who has bitterness in his heart will go around telling other people. It is like a person who has chicken pox who goes around spreading it to others, or like a person with tuberculosis who goes around spreading it to others, or a person with cold going around giving it to others or the like. It is very easy to transmit this sickness. It is highly infectious. You find people who are bitter everywhere in the world. You will find that Christendom is full of it. When a man comes to you with a complaint against another, a gossiper who is talking evil of others, what does he have in his heart? He has bitterness against that person.
I want to say to you, if you want to save yourself from infection, be careful about whom you listen to. Would you like to get AIDS from somebody? Oh, how careful you are? Well, this is more serious than that. It can destroy you more than AIDS can. Would you like to embrace a man with leprosy? Well, this is more serious. Why do you welcome and embrace a gossiper in your home; a backbiter? The Bible speaks (in 1 Timothy 5) about women who go from house to house, gossiping. There are lots of women like that in many of our churches, except instead of face to face gossiping they use the social network or their cell phones as well. I have no hesitation in saying that each of those women is an agent of Satan. You not only welcome them, you give them a cup of coffee, and sit and listen to whatever Satan wants to tell you through them and you get defiled yourself. And then she goes to the next house with her tale and you also go to somebody else's house with this tale that you have heard. Satan is, thus, multiplying his agents by the hundreds every day. Believers are doing his work for him in the church.
Satan is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). The one you are listening to, he/she who has come to your house, is an accuser of the brethren. What about you, are you an accuser of the brethren of believers?
The point is not whether what you say is right or wrong. The Bible says in Revelation 12:10, that, "Satan accuses the brothers before God." Now Satan may tell us, human beings, many, many lies. He is a liar. But he will not dare to go and tell a lie to God. When Satan accuses you before God, what do you think he accuses you of? Do you think he cooks up some story about something you never did and tries to bluff God with? No, Satan is not such a fool. What he will be telling God is what wrong you have actually done. He and his Minions is watching your life pretty carefully and, when you have done something wrong, he goes to God and says, 'See, that is what this fellow did.' It is not a lie, it is 100% true. And the same thing he says about somebody else, 'See, what that fellow did over there.' Again it is a 100% truth. So we see that the accusations that Satan makes before God are all 100% true, not 90% but 100% true.
From that we learn another important thing. When somebody comes in and tells you a tale, even if there is no exaggeration in it, and it is 100% true, that person can still be an accuser of the brethren. He is 100% in fellowship with Satan, who is the great accuser of the brethren. It says in that verse that, Satan does this day and night. He is a full-time worker, full-time accusing the brethren. He needs agents on earth. He has got multitude of agents among the unbelievers who are his children and his servants. But he has a lot of agents among God's children too; people who have some bitterness against somebody, people who haven't forgiven someone, who have a complaint against someone and who go around telling tales about that person.
That is why the Bible says in Colossians 3:13, "If any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also." Anyone! Do you have a complaint against someone? Has someone done something wrong to you? Forgive. If you don't forgive, you will become an agent of Satan, very, very easily. You may think, 'No, no, no, I have forgiven.' But the very fact that you go to someone and tell your tale of woe and make that person feel sorry for you, is an indication that, deep down in your heart, you haven't forgiven that person at all. And who are you destroying? You may think you are destroying that person's reputation by spreading stories about him. Do you know that, if that person loves God, and is wholehearted, God will make even the evil that you do to him work for his good and sanctify him? The one who is being destroyed is you. So get rid of that.
Jesus prays for his children, for his brothers and sisters, who failed. Satan accuses them. You can have a choice. Either fellowship with Jesus and pray for them or fellowship with Satan and accuse them. I hope we will make the right choice at least from today.