Finding Freedom from a Bitter Life

Dr. Steve Viars July 14, 2019 Ephesians 4:31-32

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).

Exodus 29:18 - And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Exodus 30:7 - And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.

Exodus 30:23 - Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels…

2 Corinthians 2:15 - For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ…

Psalm 104:34 - My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.

Psalm 119:103 - How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Proverbs 16:21 - The wise in heart shall be called prudent: And the sweetness of the lips increases learning.

Proverbs 27:9 - Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: So doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.

Song of Solomon 5:13 - His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

Proverbs 3:24 - When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

2 Samuel 23:1 - Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel…

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

Ephesians 4:13 - …until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

2 principles to help us escape from enslaving bitterness

I. Rejoice in the Power of the Gospel to Free Us from Sin

A. The depth of our spiritual death

Ephesians 2:1-3 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

James 3:14-15 - 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.

B. The beauty of God’s mercy and love

Ephesians 2:4-6 - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

C. The new life we can freely enjoy in Him

Ephesians 2:7 - …so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

II. Learn to Apply the Put Off / Put On Principle to All Layers of the Bitterness Problem

A. Understand two essential points in Ephesians 4:22-24

1. The primary difference between the “unsaved lifestyle” and the “saved lifestyle”

2. The three step principle for change and growth

a. put off what displeases God – v. 22

b. change your thinking – v. 23

c. put on what honors the Lord – v. 24

B. Evaluate your core beliefs

Ephesians 4:20-21 - But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus…

Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

1. Regarding your God

Ephesians 1:3 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…

Ephesians 1:11 - …also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” AW Tozer

2. Regarding yourself

Ephesians 2:1 - …dead in trespasses and sins…

3. Regarding trials

Ephesians 2:13 - But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

C. Examine your habitual desires

Ephesians 4:22 - …lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.

Ephesians 1:6 - …to the praise of the glory of His grace.

“If we marry mainly to meet our needs, then our marriages will be just that: good looking masks for selfishness.” Christopher Ash

D. Change your patterns of thinking

4:23 - …be renewed in the spirit of your mind…

E. Choose your behaviors carefully

Ephesians 4:31-32 - Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


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 five 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