Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Bitter Heart

Dr. Steve Viars July 7, 2019 Genesis 25-36, Hebrews 12
Outline

“In short, for over a week the expedition resembled a hospital ward for the critically ill more than it did a platoon of fighting men. Herein lies one of the great stories of American history, even though it is a tale of what didn’t happen rather than what did. It would have been the work of a few moments only for the Nez Perce to kill the white men and take for themselves all the expedition’s goods. Had the Indians done so, they would have come into possession of by far the biggest arsenal not just west of the Rocky Mountains but west of the Mississippi River, along with priceless kettles, axes, hatchets, beads, and other trade items in quantities greater than any of them would ever see in their lifetimes.” Stephen Ambrose; Undaunted Courage

“Bitter (OT – Marah, NT – pikros) – sour, brackish taste, the opposite of sweet. The poisonous, putrid bile from the gall bladder. An inner emotional feeling of deep sorrow, or an outwardly directed anger that cries out to the power that seems to be causing the problem.” Theological Wordbook of the OT – p. 528-529

The Bible uses this word group in three distinct ways:

1. The presence of bitter conditions

2. The power of a bitter heart

3. The poison of a bitter lifestyle

4 steps to avoid crossing the line into sinful expressions of bitterness

I. Make Key Observations from Several Core Passages

A. Proverbs 14:10, 15:11

Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Proverbs 15:11 - Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord, how much more the hearts of men!

1. Our struggle with bitterness begins in a very private place

2. Our God knows what is occurring our hearts

B. James 3:14

James 3:13-15 - Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic…

1. To overcome bitterness in our hearts, we must avoid pride and embrace truth

2. This struggle is a wrestling match against our eternal foe

C. Genesis 25-36

1. Esau cared more about his immediate comfort and relief than he did his position in the plan and purpose of God

2. The unbelief in Esau’s heart was expressed with a “great and bitter cry” as he twisted the narrative to justify himself

3. Esau’s bitter heart sought revenge by even planning to murder his own brother

“Perhaps the saddest and most godless person in Scripture outside of Judas is Esau.” John MacArthur, Commentary on Hebrews, p. 408

D. Deuteronomy 29:18-19

Deuteronomy 29:18-19 - …so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. It shall be when he hears the words of this curse that he will boast, saying, “I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.”

1. Looking to false gods for satisfaction and fulfillment will not only defile you but have a poisonous effect on others

2. It is even possible to live this way while presumptuously boasting that one’s stubbornness and unbelief is justified

“Bitterness in the heart often begins when we fail to respond to God’s loving discipline in our lives (in the broadest sense) with stubborn unbelief instead of trusting faith. If that unbelief in our hearts is left unchecked, we can become like Esau whose life was like a bitter root that sprang up and defiled many.” John Piper; What is a Root of Bitterness?

E. Hebrews 12:4-17

1. God uses discipline (in the broadest sense) to develop godly character in us for His glory and our good

2. God’s grace (cf. v. 15) is available to help us handle discipline in a faithful, believing fashion

3. An unbelieving heart produces bitterness that if left unaddressed, can have a poisonous effect on those around you

II. Define the Concept of a Bitter Heart Biblically

“A seething and unresolved anger rooted in unbelief because the pain and disappointments of life were not processed through the lens of God’s eternal plan and purposes.”

III. Understand and Studiously Avoid Characteristics of a Bitter Heart

A. Focuses selfishly on the importance of temporal comfort, pleasures, and desires.

1. Genesis 25:30 - …for I am famished…

2. Genesis 25:32 - Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die…

3. By “regarding lightly” the discipline of the Lord – Hebrews 12:5a

4. By fainting easily when being reproved – Hebrews 12:5b

5. Is unable or unwilling to endure – Hebrews 12:3, 7

6. Has weak hands and feeble knees – Hebrews 12:12-13

7. Is sometimes intergenerational

Genesis 25:28 - Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game…

8. Is a characteristic of the enemies of the cross

Philippians 3:18-19 - For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

9. Must be avoided by those who wish to please God

Colossians 3:1-3 - Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Matthew 6:33 - But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

B. Undervalues God’s plan and purposes in your life

1. Genesis 25:34 - …Thus Esau despised his birthright.

2. Hebrews 12:6 - instead of seeing discipline as proof of the Father’s love

3. Hebrews 12:7-9 - instead of seeing discipline as proof of your sonship

4. Hebrews 12:10-14 - instead of focusing on the holiness and spiritual fruit that discipline can produce

5. Hebrews 12:16 - evidence of being immoral and godless

“Esau is a paradigm for a person who treats the honors of an heir lightly. He is the consummate fool because he threw away a precious privilege on a whim born of a physical appetite. The cravings of the moment outweighed the premier gifts of a lifetime.” George H Guthrie, Hebrews, NIV Application Commentary Series, p. 409

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

C. Remembers and retells the story in ways that are inaccurate

Genesis 27:36 - …He took away my birthright…

D. Has a poisonous effect on himself and others

Hebrews 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…

IV. Recognize and Joyfully Pursue the Antidote in the Life and Presence of Our Sweet Savior

A. Endures suffering because of its sweet fruit

Matthew 4:2 - And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

Matthew 4:3 - And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Matthew 4:4 - But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”

John 4:32 - But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

John 4:33 - So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”

John 4:34 - Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”

B. Focused resolutely on accomplishing the Father’s plan

Luke 22:42 - …saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Hebrews 12:2 - …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

C. Is known for His commitment to truth

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Revelation 19:11 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True…

D. Is characterized by a sweetness that encourages others to faithfully endure

Hebrews 12:3 - For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

- One of my favorite books on American History is Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose…it is a biography of Meriwether Lewis...as in the expedition of Lewis and Clark...

- you may remember that Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis to assemble a team in the late 1700’s to explore the lands west of St. Louis in search of a waterway to the Pacific Ocean...you talk about an adventure---our country was only a couple decades old...very few if any white men had ever seen the land beyond the Mississippi...

- there were of course no maps...no way to really know what to expect except to go explore it and find out...and that’s what they did...

- their expedition went fairly well at the beginning because there was an abundance of food...

- they were taking their boats upstream, so the work was exhausting, but the hunting was so good that the men ate, according the biographer, an average of 9 pounds of meat per day...I have no idea how a person could do that...and perhaps there was some adventurer’s exaggeration involved...but if you like to fish or hunt, imagine being in a place where except for an occasional Indian hunting party, the land was entirely pristine...

- the point was, the work was hard but they had plenty of food...

- that was until the second winter, the winter of 1805...they were along the present border between Idaho and Montana which even today remains basically uninhabited because it so rugged and remote...

- the problem was there was no food...they had expert hunters as part of their team but there was no game in the mountains...

- finally they met a group of Indians called the Nez Perce who were ready to trade with them, but all they had was roots they had dug up from the ground and dried fish...

- the captains warned everybody about overeating, but that’s a hard command to follow when you feel like you’re starving...and they just gorged themselves...

- and then everybody, and I mean everybody, got very, very sick...

- its turns out that the roots were extremely bitter...and the biographers think that either because of such an extreme change of diet, or because of the roots themselves, or perhaps even bacteria from the dried fish...

- but for whatever reason or possibly a combination, the biographer said it this way...

- “In short, for over a week the expedition resembled a hospital ward for the critically ill more than it did a platoon of fighting men. Herein lies one of the great stories of American history, even though it is a tale of what didn’t happen rather than what did. It would have been the work of a few moments only for the Nez Perce to kill the white men and take for themselves all the expedition’s goods. Had the Indians done so, they would have come into possession of by far the biggest arsenal not just west of the Rocky Mountains but west of the Mississippi River, along with priceless kettles, axes, hatchets, beads, and other trade items in quantities greater than any of them would ever see in their lifetimes.”

- the moral of that story is – there is something far worse than being hungry – and that is being full of a substance that is extremely bitter…and while that is certainly the case physically – it’s even truer when we consider the condition of our own hearts and lives…bitterness can have a poisonous effect on ourselves and those around us in ways that make us easy targets for the enemy…

- with that in mind, I’d like to ask you to open your Bible to two passages of Scripture this am…Genesis 25 and Hebrews 12…[page _____ of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you and page _____ of the back section)…

- This summer we’re doing a series entitled Growing by Overcoming Bitterness

- This is part of our annual theme of Growing What God has Given

- the logic behind all of this is that God has entrusted each of us as individuals and definitely as a church with all sorts of resources and opportunities along with a corresponding number of challenges and trials…

- that’s part and parcel of what it means to be a steward…someone who has been given a trust…

- and our joy and our responsibility is to grow what God has given…

- one of the quickest ways for all of that to be sidetracked – as individuals – as a group of friends/co-workers, neighbors, extended family members and definitely as a church, is the issue of bitterness…

- picture it like a logjam that stops the river of growth and faithful stewardship from flowing at the desired rate to the proper destination…

- so the question before us this summer is – how do we overcome that?...how do we take the dynamite of God’s Word in the power of gospel and rid our hearts and lives of this poisonous fruit?...

- so far in our study we’ve seen that the key word in the OT for bitter is “mara” and in the NT is pikros – one Bible dictionary defined it like this…

- Bitter (OT – Marah, NT – pikros) – sour, brackish taste, the opposite of sweet. The poisonous, putrid bile from the gall bladder. An inner emotional feeling of deep sorrow, or an outwardly directed anger that cries out to the power that seems to be causing the problem (Theological Wordbook of the OT – p. 528-529).

- we all know what that’s like…our struggle with bitterness…but already our study has taken some surprising turns…because…

- The Bible uses this word group in three distinct ways:

1. The presence of bitter conditions

- these are the trials and difficulties we all face as a result of living in a sin-cursed world around sin-cursed people…

- Joseph’s brothers shot bitter arrows at him…

- The Egyptians oppressed the Jews with bitter working conditions

- Hannah’s rival provoked her bitterly because of her inability to conceive a child…

- none of that is necessarily our responsibility and if we respond to it well, we can avoid crossing the line into willful sin…

- that is why we studied the issues of biblical lament and bitter tears…

- it is possible to respond to bitter conditions well…

- but what happens when we do cross the line?....first, there’s…

2. The power of a bitter heart

- and if that’s not recognized and addressed in a timely fashion…there will be…

3. The poison of a bitter lifestyle

- this morning we’re focusing on that second category…Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Bitter Heart

- and let’s look for 4 steps to avoid crossing the line into sinful expressions of bitterness.

- I asked you to turn to Gen 25 and Hebrews 12 – but I believe this will be most helpful if we actually try to connect 5 core passages together this am – for sake of time we’ll have 3 of them on the screen…

- so we’ll start by….

I. Make Key Observations from Several Core Passages

- and I would encourage you to pause and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand each of these passages, and to begin to allow them to do diagnostic work on your own heart and life…

A. Proverbs 14:10, 15:11

  • Proverbs 14:10 - The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.
  • Proverbs 15:11 - Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord, how much more the hearts of men!

- what observations can we make about those verses?...

1. Our struggle with bitterness begins in a very private place.

- and perhaps that’s bad news and good news?...bad news because for some of us – if no one else can see what’s happening, we’re not motivated to care for that area properly (no immediate consequences or judgment – so I’ll ignore that area of life)…

- on the positive side – if we handle it quickly and cultivate it well – we can deal with the sin internally behavior it sprouts into behavior that can damage us and destroy others…(the nip it in the bud approach to progressive sanctification)

2. Our God knows what is occurring our hearts.

- this too is both good news and bad, for pretty obvious reasons…

- a second key passage is…

B. James 3:14

  • James 3:13–15 - Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
  • Deuteronomy 29:18–19 - so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, “I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry.”
  • Colossians 3:1–3 - Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
  • Matthew 6:33 - But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

- we’ll study this passage is more detail on another Sunday…but what can we observe here?...

1. To overcome bitterness in our hearts, we must avoid pride and embrace truth

- do you see that in the passage?...

2. This struggle is a wrestling match against our eternal foe.

- wouldn’t it be a terrible thing if you were operating on core beliefs that you were convinced were true – you believed you were wise in doing so – but it was actually so called “wisdom: that was earthly, natural, and demonic?...

- now, you’re in Genesis 25…and I’m assuming that you have a working knowledge of the Esau story…if not, I would encourage you to review it this week in…

C. Genesis 25-36

- [read Genesis 25:19-34, 27:1-10, 30-36, 41]

- what observations can we make there?...

1. Esau cared more about his immediate comfort and relief than he did his position in the plan and purpose of God.

- do you think that kind of unbelief has anything to do with the cultivation of bitterness in our hearts and life?...

2. The unbelief in Esau’s heart was expressed with a “great and bitter cry” as he twisted the narrative to justify himself.

- please connect that to what James said – “don’t be arrogant and lie against the truth”….[should we all remind ourselves of that warning?]

3. Esau’s bitter heart sought revenge by even planning to murder his own brother.

- by the way – John MacArthur said of the Esau story - Perhaps the saddest and most godless person in Scripture outside of Judas is Esau (John MacArthur, Commentary on Hebrews, p. 408).

- now, a writer in the NT is going to use this example in an extended discussion of the destructive power of this kind of unbelieving heart on others – do you know what NT book that is?...the book of Hebrews…but to understand that reference while you’re turning to Hebrews 12…let me remind you of:

D. Deuteronomy 29:18-19

- this was prior to entering the Promised land – Moses warned them…

1. Looking to false gods for satisfaction and fulfillment will not only defile you but have a poisonous effect on others.

2. It is even possible to live this way while presumptuously boasting that one’s stubbornness and unbelief is justified.

- cf. John Piper – What is a Root of Bitterness?”

- now, I know that is a lot of Scripture – but all of that is to prepare us for one last key passage in the NT – Hebrews 12 – which is about God’s discipline of His children…

- remember the recipients of this book were in some cases thinking about walking away from Jesus because they were facing trials because of their faith instead of immediate and absolute blessings…

- what’s the logical connection?...Bitterness in the heart often begins when we fail to respond to God’s loving discipline in our lives (in the broadest sense) with stubborn unbelief instead of trusting faith. If that unbelief in our hearts is left unchecked, we can become like Esau whose life was like a bitter root that sprang up and defiled many.

E. Hebrews 12:4-17

- read

- observations?

1. God uses discipline (in the broadest sense) to develop godly character in us for His glory and our good.

2. God Grace (cf. v. 15) is available to help us handle discipline in a faithful, believing fashion.

3. An unbelieving heart produces bitterness that if left unaddressed, can have a poisonous effect on those around you.

- now I realize that is a tremendous amount of Scripture, especially on a hot, holiday Sunday…

- but that hard work now allows us to take this second important step…

II. Define the Concept of a Bitter Heart Biblically

A seething and unresolved anger rooted in unbelief because the pain and disappointments of life were not processed through the lens of God’s eternal plan and purposes.

- now, with that information on the table – let’s pull over and park for a moment…is there any area of your life where you have crossed the line in sinful bitterness of heart?...

- maybe no one else knows about it yet…maybe a lot of people do…but is there any (repeat definition…)…

- we all have friends and co-workers and neighbors and extended family members – and they are all cursed by sin…meaning they disappoint us…and they hurt us…

- is there any sinful bitterness of heart there?...

- if you’re married…your spouse is imperfect…

- you had hopes and dreams before you were married and it’s highly likely your spouse has not quite lived up to every dream or maybe has failed miserably…is there any sinful bitterness there?...

- what about challenges with your children…disappointments at work…financial setbacks…health problems…

- the heart knows its own bitterness…what do you know about yours?...

- these principles are in God’s Word to help us…so let’s look at this negatively in Esau and then positively in our Savior…

III. Understand and Studiously Avoid Characteristics of a Bitter Heart

- what was happening in Esau that led to this bitter cry?...

A. Focuses selfishly on the importance of temporal comfort, pleasures, and desires.

- that’s not hard to prove in Esau’s case, is it?...

1. Genesis 25:30 - …for I am famished

2. Genesis 25:32 - Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die…

- does that sound like a man or what?...by the way—ladies, feel free to give your husband the eye roll right now for all the times he’s said that – and husbands, feel free to quote this verse whenever it suits you and then if your wife fusses – just say – you tell me you want to be a better student of the Bible and now you don’t like it when I quote Scripture…

- now please connect this to what we saw in Hebrews 12…these men and women had left their families and the Jewish sacrificial system but now because they were facing social and economic pressure…some were thinking about leaving the church and returning to the temple…

- if they continued down that path they would end up being bitter roots like Esau…they would be…

3. By “regarding lightly” the discipline of the Lord – Hebrews 12:5a

- where does the sovereignty of God fit into the problems and disappointments you face?...

- where did it fit into Esau’s story?...clearly God had a plan for both Jacob and Esau that he explained in advance to Rebekah before the boys were even born…

- is it possible that the very thing you’re bitter about is what the Lord has designed to help you become more like His Son?...

- [develop – with the help of Barry, Arvid, and Ken Sherwin – the power planer than Ken used – could take 1/32nd of an inch off a board – a great piece of equipment and a skilled operator]…

- are you or I so focused on temporal comfort, please, or desire…I’m famished, I’m not getting what I want, need, or deserve in the moment that we have no room to see or consider anything else in the equation…

- we’re viewing God’s discipline as a commonplace thing…

4. By fainting easily when being reproved – Hebrews 12:5b

5. Is unable or unwilling to endure – Hebrews 12:3, 7

- a bitter heart is a quitting heart…

6. Has weak hands and feeble knees – Hebrews 12:12-13

- that’s what selfishness and a desire for immediate gratification does…

7. Is sometimes intergenerational.

- this passage gives a haunting detail about Esau’s father Jacob…

- even though his wife undoubtedly told him what God explained about His choice of the younger Jacob to be a descendant of the promise…the covenant that had been made to him and his father Abraham…why did Jacob resist that plan?...

- Genesis 25:28 - Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game…

- where did Esau learn this focus on immediate comfort, and pleasure, and desire?...

- maybe by watching his own father?...

Can you think of places this comes up in the NT?

8. Is a characteristic of the enemies of the cross

- Philippians 3:18–19 - For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

9. Must be avoided by those who wish to please God

- see, where does this seething and unresolved anger come from?...because we’re not getting that red stuff that we think we absolutely have this very moment or we’re going to die…

- My spouse has to give me the appreciation and praise I believe I deserve right now – give me that red stuff

- My kids have to obey me perfectly and make me look good – give me some of that red stuff…

- I have to have the perfect boss…and endless pleasure and material possessions…I begin worshipping them as if that is where my joy and satisfaction is found…I’m famished, I’m going to die, give me some of that red stuff…

B. Undervalues God’s plan and purposes in your life

1. Genesis 25:34 - …Thus Esau despised his birthright.

2. Hebrews 12:6 – instead of seeing discipline as proof of the Father’s love

3. Hebrews 12:7-9 – instead of seeing discipline as proof of your sonship

4. Hebrews 12:10-14 – instead of focusing on the holiness and spiritual fruit that discipline can produce

5. Hebrews 12:16 – evidence of being immoral and godless

Commentator George H Guthrie - Esau is a paradigm for a person who treats the honors of an heir lightly. He is the consummate fool because he threw away a precious privilege on a whim born of a physical appetite. The cravings of the moment outweighed the premier gifts of a lifetime” (George H Guthrie, Hebrews, NIV Application Commentary Series, p. 409))

- friends – this is the line between bitter circumstances – which in the providence of God we will all face in this life – and crossing into the cultivation of a sinfully bitter heart…

- at the point of the disappointment, the hurt, the pain – which is in some way, shape, or form—God’s loving discipline in our lives…

- are we going to focus on His redemptive plan and look to Him for joy, strength, and satisfaction…or are we going to seethe because we didn’t receive another helping of the red stuff we so richly craved…

- it’s a choice between embracing and trusting in God’s mission, and plan, and purposes or our mission, plan, and purposes…

- Proverbs 3:5–6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

- please think about this from the perspective of your impact on our church family – since that is the ultimate point of Hebrews 12…

- what about all of these marvelous VBS workers who served so faithfully that week?...do you think there are any failures, disappointments, or hurts in a week like that?...

- did the kids behave perfectly….was the organization flawless…were the other servants A+ in every last thing they said and did?...

- of course not – but what kept men and women joyfully serving God anyway?...

- because the focus is on God’s mission, not theirs…

- bitter circumstances do not have to lead to a bitter heart…

C. Remembers and retells the story in ways that are inaccurate

  • Genesis 27:36 - …He took away my birthright…
  • Matthew 4:2 - And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
  • Matthew 4:3 - And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
  • Matthew 4:4 - But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”
  • John 4:32 - But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
  • John 4:33 - So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
  • John 4:34 - Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

- friend, I know this is hard to hear – but do you realize that you may have crafted a narrative in your mind that excuses something you did in the past that is not really what occurred…

- for many of us – we’re the smartest person we know…

- and that may explain what was wrong with his repentance…it was so shallow and self-focused and inaccurate that he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears…

- the ultimate warning in Hebrews 12 is…

D. Has a poisonous effect on himself and others

- Hebrews 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;

- bitter unbelief will not stay in the heart for long…it causes trouble, and by it many can be defiled…

- friend, would God want you to do business with some aspect of bitterness in your heart today?...

- well, what – or perhaps better stated – who is the antidote to a bitter heart?...

IV. Recognize and Joyfully Pursue the Antidote in the Life and Presence of our Sweet Savior

- please think about how our Lord was the polar opposite of Esau in the key ways this passage emphasizes…

A. Endures suffering because of its sweet fruit

- Satan tried the red stuff trick on Jesus, didn’t he?...

- what was the context of the temptations of Christ?...physical hunger…

- please think about – 40 days…I’ve never been hungry for 40 hours…and rarely more than 40 minutes…and how did our Savior respond?...give me some of that red stuff?...despising his birthright?...

- do you remember that came up with his disciples when they were off getting lunch and he was ministering to the woman at the well…so they came back and encouraged Jesus to stop witnessing to her and get something to eat…do you remember what Jesus said…

- for some who will hear this message, this study might reveal that you have not yet made the decision to trust Christ as Savior and Lord…He can satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul like “red stuff” never will – because his death, burial, and resurrection makes it possible for you to reconciled to the heavenly Father…

- that’s why in this very passage – he explains to the woman at the well that those who really want to worship God can and will and must worship Him in spirit and truth…

- and when you choose to avoid sinful bitterness of heart…it is an act of supreme worship…

B. Focused resolutely on accomplishing the Father’s plan.

- Luke 22:42 - saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

- Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

- that’s a lot better than a bowl of red stuff – and the beauty is – this approach doesn’t result in a bitter heart…but a joyful one…

C. Is known for His commitment to truth

- Esau’s bitterness made a liar out of him…that’s not surprising in light of what James told us – since the ultimate source of bitterness is our adversary, the Father of lies…

  • John 14:6 - Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
  • Revelation 19:11 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True…

- please mark this down in your mind – bitter people do not tell the truth…I cannot tell you how many times as a pastor I have seen that played out…

- bitter people are liars…and they raise liars…and they spread lies…that’s how demonic all of this is…

D. Is characterized by a sweetness that encourages others to faithfully endure

Hebrews 12:3 - For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

- Iowa state track meet illus


Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video