How Not to Walk, Part 20 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #266)


A series of homilies on Ephesians.

A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”

I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.

TEXT: Ephesians 4:30-31:

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:


John R. W. Stott said, “Evangelistic preaching has too often consisted of prolonged appeal for decision when the congregation has been given no substance upon which the decision is to be made. But the Gospel is not fundamentally an invitation to men to do anything. It is a clear declaration of what God has done in Christ on the cross for their salvation. The invitation cannot properly be given before the declaration has been made. Men must grasp the truth before they are asked to respond to it.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “People today want a painless Pentecost. After the apostles were filled in the upper room, they were persecuted and they went to prison for preaching the Word. When you’re filled with the Spirit, it doesn’t matter what area you yield in your life, the devil will fight to get back the ground he lost.”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Shortly after the camp meeting, Peter Cartwright returned to a home filled with drinking and `dancing. He felt guilty when he got there, arose from his bed, and walked the floor, crying out to God. His mother was awakened by his prayers. Cartwright later recalled: All of a sudden my blood rushed to my head, my heart palpitated and in a few minutes I turned blind; an awful impression rested on my mind that death had come and I was unprepared to die. I fell on my knees and began to ask God to have mercy on me. Nevertheless, Cartwright failed to find salvation that evening.”


In verse 31, Paul begins to specify those things that grieve the Holy Spirit. He tells us that these things ought to be ‘put away’ from us as new people in Christ. The first such grievous sin is “bitterness.” A Christian ought not to walk around with bitterness in his heart.

Dr. Wiersbe defines bitterness as “a settled hostility that poisons the whole inner man. Somebody does something we do not like, so we harbor ill will against him. Bitterness leads to wrath, which is the explosion on the outside of the feelings on the inside. Wrath and anger often lead to brawling (clamor) or blasphemy (evil speaking). The first is fighting with fists, the second is fighting with words. It is difficult to believe that Christians would act this way, but they do, and this is why Paul warned us, ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity.'”

Bitterness is a feeling that is incompatible with the Holy Spirit of God. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Spirit, and Jesus’ Spirit is one of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. When Jesus was being spit upon, beaten, whipped, and mocked, He could have become bitter. He had every right to. Instead, He said, “Father, forgive them.” Of course, being God, He forgave them Himself too.

As a Christian, you have an obligation to forgive and let go of past hurts and offenses. You may feel like you have a right to hold a grudge or to hold onto bitterness against somebody because of what they did or did not do. However, your bitterness only hurts you — not the other person. The word “bitter” comes from a Greek word meaning to cut or to prick. You might think that you are hurting someone else by furling up your brow, casting an evil eye at them, speaking to them in a negative, acidic fashion, or wishing that something bad would happen to them. But, you are only driving the knife deeper into your own heart.

This poem by Deborah Ann Belka reminds us to keep bitterness at bay by the power of the Holy Spirit:

The root of bitterness,
digs deep into your soul
fighting ever so hard
to take complete control.

It establishes itself,
before you even know
until on the outside
your anger starts to show.

The only way to kill
the root of bitterness
is to expel it from your heart
with love and forgiveness!

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