Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Forgiveness: How to Overcome Bitterness


Forgiveness / Overcoming Bitterness


Only forgiveness will heal the internal wounds of the mind, will and emotions.  Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door and releases all forms of hurt (emotional pain that follows a grievous event).  On the other hand, bitterness is the poison that keeps an offense alive in our hearts and minds.  Bitterness uses the voice of torment to continually remind us of our injury.    

Romans 12:21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  We are overcome with evil when we don't forgive, because Satan uses unforgiveness to grow his kingdom of hatred in the hearts and lives of humanity.  The devil's desire is for us to return evil thoughts for evil deeds.  He knows that by creating painful offenses in our lives he can cause us to hold resentment toward others.  He knows that the unforgiving poison of resentment will keep the goodness of God's kingdom from working in, and through, our lives.  Unforgiveness gives Satan the victory as bitterness grows into anger, wrath, hatred, revenge, violence and even murder (either through our thoughts and words, or, by our actual deeds). 

When we choose to forgive a perpetrator from biting words, rejection, abuse, or even physical harm, we have overcome that evil with good.  God’s wisdom surpasses our understanding as His grace gives us the ability to forgive even the most heinous of crimes.  Not only does forgiveness release us from the invisible prison of pain and torment, but it also releases God’s love to heal our wounds.

Take a moment and read Matthew 18:15-35, which is all about forgiving. One important principle is in verse 18.  Did you know that you can bind unforgiveness and loose forgiveness in your heart and soul?  Discuss.

Ps 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


In Hebrews 12:16-17, we are reminded of Esau despising his birthright.  Our birthright into God’s kingdom is a gift based on the forgiveness given to us through the blood of Jesus Christ. 

Esau sold his birthright for some meat (obviously, he didn’t value it).  God requires that we forgive others as we have been forgiven by Him for our sins (Matthew 6:12) - this is how God’s kingdom works.  He gives to us, and we give to others.  It is a dangerous thing to devalue our birthright by not forgiving others.  Just as Esau sold his birthright, we can sell ours for bitterness.  The act of forgiveness is an extension of our birthright.

If there is still hurt attached to the memory of an offensive event in our lives, then forgiveness is not complete.  God’s completed work of forgiveness will enable us to remember the wrongdoing, but we will not suffer from the painful effects of someone else's actions any longer. 

Remember, forgiveness does not mean that we submit to further abuse from that same source.  We can forgive people who have mistreated us, and at the same time not tolerate their victimization any longer. 

Recognize and make a list of the hurts you have experienced. 

Mark 11:26
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. 


  • Forgiveness from the heart is the only kind of forgiveness that works.  Forgiveness from the heart is not an intellectual forgiveness, nor is it the result of someone trying to be super-spiritual; instead, forgiveness is an attitude that emulates Jesus. 

  • Forgiveness is not an emotion, but an act of will.  If you wait for an emotion, you won’t forgive because unforgiveness is already present and at work in your heart, mind and body.

  • Learning to separate the person from the sin makes it possible to forgive people who have done evil things.  You can hate evil and that is a very good thing (Proverbs 8:13), but you can’t hate the person.  Jesus was able to forgive those that murdered him.  He was able to separate sin from the person, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”   As Christians, we are born-again into the same Spirit (1 Peter 1:22-23) so we can also respond in the same manner as Jesus. 

  • Forgiveness is something we need to do every day.  Take an inventory of each day, and make those hurts, whether big or small, inconsequential with forgiveness.  When we fail by returning evil for evil, we must quickly repent so that we can move ahead.  Forgiving quickly will protect us, by not giving place to the devil in our lives (Ephesians 4:26-27).

  • God is so much bigger than the evil done to us; so, we can trust Him with all hurtful events.  Evil is never right, but God is the avenger.

Read Luke 6:31-36.  What is God saying?

Do you think you can forgive?  If not, why?


What does bitterness do?  It avoids people, turns stomachs, causes mental and emotional pain, causes piercing hostility, builds invisible walls, causes paralyzing thoughts and it can even make someone physically sick and/or terminally ill.  Manifestations of bitterness might be seen in self-doubt, sarcasm, a hardened face, a gruff voice, foul language, rebellion, negativity, addictions, spitting, hitting, withdrawal from society, hoarding, and/or sexual promiscuity.  Perhaps you've witnessed the bitterness of someone else.  If so, what you saw was their bitterness defiling them. 

One example of the manifestation of bitterness in the Old Testament is the story of Joseph and his brothers.  Their dislike was so great that they were going to kill him, but instead, ended up selling him into slavery.  Bitterness separates us from God, separates us from others and even separates us from ourselves.  Unchecked bitterness will result in destroyed relationships. 

Has anyone else's bitterness ever affected you?  Explain. 

Would you be willing to confess that you hate bitterness and what it does to mankind?  Will you ask God to take all bitterness from you? 

Will you take responsibility and name any sinful responses of bitterness that you have had?


1.   When we fail to read and understand God's word, painful offenses can even cause us to develop bitterness toward God.   Harboring lying thoughts such as; "God has forgotten me" or, “God has caused this to happen to me" can play into the devil's evil device of luring us away from the only One who can truly save and heal us from our torment.  Scripture tells us plainly that the devil is the one who wants to kill, steal and destroy and that Jesus is the one who gives us life more abundantly (John 10:10).  God is love (1 John 4:16).  Repent to God now for any bitterness you may have toward Him.

2.   Forgive yourself if you hold regret, shame and guilt.  With repentance, God not only forgives, but also cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  It is sinful to not forgive ourselves when Holy God has already forgiven us.

3.   Forgive others for the pain they have caused you.  Take the list you made of "hurtful events" and repent to God for any bitterness you have toward others.  Tell God you forgive and release each person of the debt of sin that was committed against you.

4.   Ask others for forgiveness.  If you have caused pain, offended or defiled someone else, you may need to go to that person and tell them that you are sorry for your actions.  Make this easy and don’t replay the "hurtful event" as that could stir up anger.  Simply say, "I have had bitterness towards you, and I am sorry.  Please forgive me."

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


Our homework is the ongoing process of walking out of bitterness and changing our ways of thinking to the mind of Christ.  We do this by holding every thought captive and rejecting those thoughts that don’t line up with the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).  This is an ongoing effort, so be kind and patient with yourself.  God is thrilled that you are learning about your birthright!

Ask God to give you His love for all people and then practice making statements of faith that declare where you want to go in your forgiveness journey.  Remember, forgiveness is a process that begins with a decision.  Although difficult to feel, initially, forgiveness is where your heart is pointed and complete healing will be the end result of God's forgiving grace. 


Initially, Naomi blamed God for her problems.  We know in the whole council of the Word of God that the Lord does not bring us evil; He sent His Son to destroy it.  There is hope for all of us as we see Naomi work through her "‘hurtful events" as she returned to her home and to her God.  The reward for her obedience was restoration of her life.  This is also available to you.


***This lesson was contributed by Marlene Bussert.  The Woman2Woman: Naomi & Ruth Experience Bible Study is a joint project between Deborah Ross Ministries and Safer Communities Ministry.  Many teachers and ministers of the gospel from across the USA have contributed lessons contained in this study. Deborah Ross is the main contributor and the chief editor of this project.  


About this Study

The Woman2Woman: Naomi & Ruth Experience Bible study uses the example of the relationship between Naomi and Ruth as a model for women who desire to participate in a discipleship program to the glory of God.  It is specifically designed for use in a mentoring setting that takes place once per week whereby a more mature Christian woman makes a commitment to serve as the mentor in a Bible study relationship with another woman who is newer (less knowledgeable) in the faith.  By sharing and discussing one study topic at each meeting, the hearts of both women involved will be transformed as God in their midst speaks to each of them through His Word (Matthew 18:20).

In addition to cultivating a new believer’s knowledge of the Word, this in-depth study guide is a great resource that can be used to minister help and healing from:  a broken heart; shattered relationships; addictions; prison/jail time; a life of dysfunction; abandonment; mental, physical or sexual abuse; depression; and beyond.  This material is also designed to bring healing to extended female family members of those suffering, as well. 

Realizing that there are many potential mentors who really want God to use them in a powerful way, this material has been designed to ease the apprehension that may cause the willing leader to feel inadequate.  Like Naomi, you don’t have to be perfect (free from struggles) in order to mentor and disciple another woman.  You just need to be following the Lord in honest, scriptural ways and you’ll need to make yourself available to love another person by sharing what you do know about the Lord at this time in your life.  


Monday, July 7, 2014

How to Overcome Demonic Oppression

In a day and age where speaking of demonic spirits is not considered kosher in mainstream Christianity, the devil is having a field day harassing, oppressing and even possessing individuals who are ignorant to spiritual warfare. In America, it seems we'd rather seek counseling, stronger pills, alcohol, street drugs, unholy sex, dangerous surgeries and even prison to fix problems of the soul than to ever seek deliverance from the Lord. Why is this?

I have found that true ministry gets messy at times. It's kind of like surgery; in that, it is an intrusive, invasive and a radical solution for receiving healing. It can be bloody. It can take hours. It can be frightening. Sometimes, it takes more than one surgery to fix the problem; and, for some, there can even be a long recovery period.

There are some who are being harassed by demons due to generational family dysfunction. Others have given Satan legal ground through a sinful lifestyle. Some may have been the victim of someone else's sin. There are even those who have not been able to adequately deflect normal disappointments in life, resulting in self abuse by negative inner chatter and in some cases by inflicting pain on themselves perhaps through rebellion, substance abuse or cutting. I have often found that the deeper the wound, the messier the deliverance. My motto is, "the uglier it was going in, the uglier it might be coming out." So, when God's people - as a whole - put guidelines on how that person is to act while being delivered, they are creating a wall of defense that may actually prevent that person from being delivered - at all.

Sadly, in an effort to adhere to being decent and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40), mainstream church often neglects the dirty work that is required to bring wholeness and healing to many who are suffering from demonic torment (whether secretly or openly). We should look at the example of Jesus and the consistent character of God throughout the scriptures when determining our philosophy of God's will. We should not rely upon our man made by-laws. All throughout the Bible the Lord is doing supernatural works in an effort to bring restoration, healing, deliverance and fellowship back to mankind. It's the devil and the works of the flesh that are constantly trying to lure us back into the sin and dysfunction that leads to bondage and torment. But God wants us FREE and He is not lacking in His methods for bringing wholeness and healing to humanity.

It has been my experience that the enemy knows no boundaries. Just because his mode of operation doesn't fit into a persons theology, this doesn't stop him from attacking those who thought they had it all figured out. 1 Peter 5:8 says the devil is as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  He is looking for legal ground to wreak havoc in a persons life. His intent is to thwart God's plan by keeping God's prized creation from ever coming into fellowship with Him. But... if someone is already a Christian, the devils next best plan is to tempt God's children into "little sins" that cause bondage, dysfunction, distractions and even paralyzation. The devil will do anything he can in order to render Christians ineffective in their witness and worship of the Lord.

Over the years, I have seen many levels of demonic bondage ranging from: annoying battles of the mind; to drug and alcohol addictions; to seething bitterness, outright hatred and even murder; to evil manipulation; to mental breakdown. Sure, each condition has a medical and/or social name that seems to make it sound less "messy," but the fact of the matter is that the enemy of our soul is behind it all. The devil doesn't care what you call it and he doesn't really care how you treat it as long as you don't administer deliverance. Satan wants to make people think that this is their God ordained plight so that they'll learn to live with their malady and never seek the Lord for complete healing; hence, people in bondage don't bring the Kingdom of God to earth because they are too busy dealing with their own problems.

The good news is that Jesus came to show us the will of the Father. Jesus healed the sick and rebuked the demons. He taught us how to avoid sinful lifestyles that invited Satan's entrance into our lives. Jesus came to earth to "deliver us!"  Even so, many that are bound by demonic influence will stay that way their entire life because of man-made methods and rules that the Lord never intended for the church to put into place. We serve a supernatural God who does things in a supernatural way. He only wants us to trust Him and to not restrict Him with our false idols of sophistication and our self-preserving reputations of pride.

So, how does one overcome demonic harassment, oppression and even possession? I've got more good news! Christians have been given all authority over the enemy when they administer healing and deliverance in Jesus' name. There is a remedy of deliverance for everyone. Even so, the healing pathway will not necessarily be the same for each individual. Since each demonic stronghold gained legal ground through various types of sin (whether self inflicted or brought about by another), the road to healing may look different with each individual. Never-the-less, every deliverance comes through the authority of Jesus the Christ. 

While the solution to demonic deliverance is quite simple; for some, the process can be difficult and even seem impossible. It goes back to the same old argument that has been raised for centuries. Jesus did not heal everyone; in fact, he was unable to heal those in his own hometown because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). So, unbelief can be one reason that some won't receive deliverance. But there is another reason that some won't receive deliverance and that is their "fear of the unknown." Some people get so comfortable in their dysfunction or malady that they are actually afraid to face life any other way. 

In order to successfully administer deliverance to someone, the afflicted person must first be taught that Jesus not only can set them free but that He wants to set them free. In addition, it is important to teach that person the benefits of being free. Then, that individual needs to be instructed on how to stay free. This all goes back to the book of Proverbs where we learn the importance of getting wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Once you have given the afflicted person a reason to believe, you've helped them overcome their fear of the unknown and you've given them some insight into how to stay free, they will not fight against their own cause (Mark 3:25).

Having said all of this, I have made a basic list of "how to overcome demonic oppression." This article is not an exhaustive commentary on this subject, but I do believe that it is a core outline for understanding, receiving and administering deliverance.

1)   Make Jesus your Lord & Savior
2)   Obedience to God & His holy Word
3)   Forgiveness (forgive others & forgive yourself)
4)   Repentance from sin (agree with God about what sin really is)
5)   Elevate The Lord above drugs, alcohol, ungodly habits, ungodly friends, lusts of the flesh and worldly opinions
6)   Make sure your eyes and ears don't indulge in evil perversions 
7)   Renounce ungodly traditions and beliefs (Proverbs 28:13)
8)   Worship The Lord with your whole heart
9)   Pray
10) Read your bible
11) Take thoughts captive and replace wrong thoughts with God's truth (2 Corinthians 10:5)
12) Seek to know the "root cause" that has granted the enemy access to your body, mind, will or emotions and then work on cleansing from the root issue 
13) Purge your home and/or environment from satanic, pagan objects or anything that has sorcery, witchcraft, idolatry, perversion (sexual sin), temptation, or any sort of suspected evil identified with it (symbolic or otherwise)
14) Avoid placing yourself back into negative environments or condemning relationships that bring about self-hatred (if it is family, create boundaries)
15) Having done all... STAND... In faith and believe that The Lord will give you the victory! (Ephesians 6:13)
16) Avoid religion! Keep your spiritual armor on at all times. Do not allow religious comments to try and steal your victory.

Matthew 10:8 (KJV) - "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, CAST OUT DEVILS: freely ye have received, freely give."

Matthew 6:9-15 (KJV) - "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but DELIVER US FROM EVIL: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Luke 11:14-28 (KJV) - "And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."

Acts 10:38 (KJV) - "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and HEALING ALL THAT WERE OPPRESSED OF THE DEVIL; for God was with him.

Psalm 34:4 (KJV) - "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and DELIVERED ME from all my fears."

Mark 16:17-18 (KJV) - "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall THEY SHALL CAST OUT DEVILS; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

Mark 9:38-40 (KJV) - "And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one CASTING OUT DEVILS in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part."

Psalms 34:17 (KJV) - The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and DELIVERETH them out of all their troubles.

Psalms 40:13 (KJV) - Be pleased, O LORD, to DELIVER me: O LORD, make haste to help me.

Galatians 5:1 (KJV) - Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith CHRIST HATH MADE US FREE, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Psalm 91:14 (KJV) - Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I DELIVER him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

Psalms 91:15 (KJV) - He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will DELIVER him, and honour him.



Some ways that the enemy gets legal rights over us for administering torment...

1)   Sin
2)   Demonic Vows
3)   Soul Ties
4)   Childhood Rejection
5)   Unforgiveness (of them self or of another)
6)   Negative Spoken Words (curses by others or from self)
7)   Generational Curse (ancestral sins and/or the effects of ancestral sins)
8)   Points of Weakness
9)   Cursed Objects
10) The Occult; False Religions; Ungodly Organizations
11) Traditions that are esteemed equal to - or more important than - the truth of God's Word
12) Drugs & Alcohol (drunkards, abusing street drugs and even certain prescription drugs that alter the mind)
13) Unnatural Sex (adultery, fornication, masturbation, with same sex partners, with animals, with children)
14) Traumatic Emotional Injury
15) Ungodly Social, Musical, Media Influence that has Taken Root in the Individuals Soul
16) Witchcraft; Sorcery (includes horoscopes, palm readings, seances, etc.)