"For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." -Acts 8:23
God sent Jesus to free us (Luke 4:18–19) and made this freedom available to everyone by raising Him from the dead. Acts 8:23 reveals two things that prevent us from reaching out and grasping this freedom that Christ is offering: the poison of bitterness and being bound by iniquity. I have experienced both.
In Hebrews 12:15, the author describes bitterness as a root. Bitterness starts in our heart with an initial hurt or disappointment. But over time, its roots spread and begin to affect our actions, our will, our emotions, and the decisions we make.
In my own life, bitterness spread, and while the root remained hidden, the “fruit” was clearly seen. It didn’t look anything like the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). So where there should have been peace, there was anxiety. Instead of gentleness, there was a hardness of heart. And in place of joy, I experienced depression. This was not the freedom God had purchased for my heart.
But our God is a God of redemption. His heart is to always restore that which is broken (Titus 2:14). So our God can take those bound, bitter roots and redeem them “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17–19 NKJV).
His desire is that we bring our bitterness to Him and others, that we may be healed. Where we once believed and thought things that set themselves up against God, we replace them with the truth of God, letting these truths take root and grow in us till they affect every emotion, will, decision, action, and thought. That is freedom.
Let us be people who draw close to the Father, understanding His great love demonstrated through Christ. And let us allow His love to heal us from the poison of bitterness and release us from the grip of sin, that we may experience His freedom and live in the fullness of His promises.
DIG: Read Psalm 139:23–24 and ask God to reveal any bitterness or sin within you.
DISCOVER: As the Lord faithfully reveals thoughts or beliefs that are not in accordance with the freedom He offers, confess them to God and others that you may be healed.
DISPLAY: Write down the truth about your situation as revealed in God’s Word. Memorize it and bring it to mind frequently that the Word’s power might be displayed in the fruit you bear.