The tongue

It detects and tastes:  sweet, sour, salty, and bitter

Why do we have the bitter section of the tongue?

There are very few good bitter foods

Why do we need to be able to detect bitter?

It is a sensory cue that something is not right

Not normally a pleasant experience

Diseases, disorders, medications, surgery, injury among others

Very commonly associated with poisoning. It is a sign that you have been poisoned when you get a bitter taste in your mouth

Bitter taste in our mouth is normally an alert that something is very wrong

The Bible uses bitter and bitterness in talking about taste and it also uses the term in much same way we would use (example: bitter winter) implying or the suffering of mind and body, causes grief or something that is difficult to bear.

We speak of something being bitter if it is hard to bear; “a bitter defeat”, “bitter failure”. We also speak of a “bitter loss” when someone’s death has caused great grief.

It is not normally associated with nice things.

The Israelites were commanded to eat

Exodus 12:8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 1:14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.

It also associates these physical manifestations with a spiritual condition. There is a definite correlation.

Today we will be talking about the bitterness that is brought on by our reactions and resentment and what this will eventually lead to if it goes unchecked.

While it is not necessarily something that has taking us in and grabbed a hold of us, it is nonetheless something that the Bible addresses and that we must be aware of.

Definition: What is bitterness?
KJV Acts 8:23 ForG1063 I perceiveG3708 that thouG4571 artG5607 inG1519 the gallG5521 of bitternessG4088 andG2532 in the bondG4886 of iniquity.G93

G4088 pikria pik-ree’-ah acridity [deeply or violently bitter : acrimonious ] (especially poison), literally or figuratively: – bitterness. [The only word translated bitterness in the New Testament and nothing else]

G5521 cholē khol-ay’ Feminine of an equivalent perhaps akin to the same as G5514 (from the greenish hue); “gall” or bile, that is, (by analogy) poison or an anodyne (wormwood, poppy, etc.): – gall.

Definition of Gall

a: bile

b: something bitter to endure

c: bitterness of spirit

Acts 8:23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

Bitterness is a poison

Hebert W. Armstrong: Personal: But one thing to watch and guard against every second, in the way of attitude, is resentment, bitterness, hatred. Don’t let ANYTHING, no matter how unjust, make you sour and bitter. That is the deadliest mental and spiritual POISON. We must grow LOVE even our enemies who perpetrate the greatest outrages — though we do not condone their evils.

In the same way that the bitter taste on our tongue can indicate that we are physically sick and poisoned, to be bitter is an indication that we spiritual poisoned.

What are the Causes?

We are shown in James 3 where bitterness comes from:

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

James 3:11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?

James 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

James 3:13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

James 3:14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

James 3:15 This wisdom [this kind of thinking] does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual [carnal, sinful, selfish], demonic. [This is the main or ultimate cause; it is of Satan primarily; it is not of God]

James 3:16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. [these all go hand in hand]

Obviously we are not to be that way. We are to resist the evil one and his ways and Seek God which is what James goes on to say in :17

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

James 3:18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Bitterness does not come from God and it exists because we do not use God’s Spirit and Power to stay on the right track.

Where does Bitterness Come from?

As you can imagine the list of all things that lead to bitterness would be long and IT IS and the Bible has many verses expounding on it.

But more specifically bitterness comes from resentment.

Wikipedia: Resentment is the experience of a negative emotion (anger or hatred, for instance) [1] felt as a result of a real or imagined wrong done. Etymologically, the word originates from French “ressentir”, re-, intensive prefix, and sentir “to feel”; from the Latin “sentire”. The English word has become synonymous with anger, spite, and bitterness. [I thought this next statement in the definition was insightful] Resentment can be triggered by an emotionally disturbing experience that is being felt again or relived in the mind.

Bitterness comes when we won’t let go of a real or imagined injustice and our desire to seek vengeance and/or some type of misguided justification isn’t satisfied.

In our minds it just isn’t fair and we are seeking our own brand of equity.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg because so many things can lead to bitterness. Once we have succumbed to it, there are effects that will surely manifest themselves. But as there can be a million paths to bitterness there are equally as many effects.

Effects The Bible Speaks of:

Bitter people reject the teaching of the Bible. James 3:14

Complaining and gossip often accompanies bitterness

Bitterness fragments other people’s lives.

Bitterness brings about a self-fulfilling misery

Bitterness is antisocial and it will affect others

It will lead to revenge and other sins

BUT most detrimentally it leads to death!

Firstly, because it is most often directed at others and if left unchecked the ultimate result will be the killing of another.

Surprisingly (or maybe not) there is a long list of people that are examples.

For you to go over and think about some other time

Esau, Saul, Naomi and where it led to

Example of Cain

Genesis 4:3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.

Genesis 4:4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,

Genesis 4:5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

(LITV) And He did not look to Cain and to his offering. And Cain glowed greatly with anger, and his face fell. [It was the kind of hatred that grew out of bitterness, it was the kind that when you see it in someone you get out of their way]

Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Genesis 4:8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

1Jn 3:12 not as Cain was of the evil one, and killed his brother. And for what did he kill him? Because his works were evil, but the things of his brother were righteous.

Most often you don’t destroy others by bitterness; you destroy yourself.

Example of Haman

Esther 5:9 So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.

Esther 5:10 Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh.

Esther 5:11 Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.

Esther 5:12 Moreover Haman said, “Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king.

Esther 5:13 Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”

None of this satisfied him or made him happy. The bitterness that he had let fester, because of a perceived injustice, caused Haman to minimize all the great things that he had. And it would eventually lead to his own demise

Esther 5:14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made.

Bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to. There is a connection between bitterness and hatred, and the Bible puts hatred on par with murder in Matthew 5

Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Resentment turns to bitterness, and bitterness to HATE and hate is tantamount to Murder in the spirit of the law and if we allow it to go that far then:

The world has two solutions: Keep it in or Spread it.

Equates to poison yourself or those around you. Become sicker or share the disease.

Bitterness Accumulates

People do not get less bitter with maturity, they get more bitter over the years. It gets worse and worse.

God’s solution or cure is to dig up the root. Get rid of it. We obviously don’t have to do it by ourselves. We have the power of God to help us.

Don’t go there in the first place.

Is the resentment that we feel real, imagined or worth pursuing?

Either let it go…truly let it go

Bitterness doesn’t solve a problem, it only magnifies it and serves to hurt a relationship.

It should be avoided at all costs.

Reconcile differences before they go too far down the road.

But, if it has managed to take hold, as soon as we recognize it or see it springing up out of the ground…we nip it in the bud. It starts as a small root that is easily pulled, but if it goes unchecked will anchor itself more firmly each day.

We pull every last vestige of it out and replace it with a different root.

If we don’t… that is in the case of the Christian it would ultimately lead to our destruction spiritually to the point that we would not be in the Kingdom of God.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [must have it to do this…so we are talking about church members], whereby [or by which] you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice

If we don’t dig out our bitterness, then we are in danger of committing the – Unpardonable Sin.

If we do not repent of this attitude and change our ways or Satan’s way in us, we are in effect choosing that way above God’s. If we do that we are committing the Unpardonable Sin where we say that we are not willing to go completely God’s way.

How then do we combat bitterness in our lives?

Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; [of course you are one of the many, you are the proverbial bad apple in the barrel; your mold and rot spreads to those that are in your immediate vicinity and from there it can spread to others they are in contact with. If they have a cut in the skin or a chink in the armor, it allows the access that bitterness needs to spread].

Paul is explaining when he says [lest anyone fall short of the grace of God] that if we allow bitterness to take root we can become defiled that is not make it into the Kingdom of God.

How do we pursue peace and insure that we reach our final destination?

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

Matthew 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil

What did Jesus just get finished saying in :9?

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

And what did we already read in James 3:18? “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”.

Keeping the peace with others and even within ourselves is crucial to not becoming bitter.

Replace with the Holy Spirit
Carnality out; Bitterness out / The fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in; they are antithetical.

The roots of an apple tree provide us with apples. If there is a bitter root, it will bear bitter fruit like James was alluding to…the fruit reveals what kind of tree and root system you have. A root of bitterness produces bitter fruit not the fruit of the Spirit that we know of in Galatians 5. The fruit that is born bears a direct relation to the root producing it.

Let’s go back to what we read before in Ephesians 4:30. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. [After instructing readers what can happen Paul then goes on to show how we can insure that it doesn’t].
Ephesians 4:32
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Put On:

1. Kind: Naturally this cannot exist with resentment, bitterness, or hatred.
2. Tenderhearted: Do not be hard hearted and implacable
3. Forgiving one another: Be willing to forgive others; have a spirit of forgiveness [like the father towards his prodigal son]

But suppose they do not quit acting the way they have been that is supposedly causing this bitterness in you?

Are you going to be bitter the rest of your life?
Must be in a spirit of forgiveness – be ready to forgive at a moment’s notice. A bitter person will hang on in spite of an apology or change in another person. Ridding ourselves of bitterness really doesn’t depend on the other party.

Matthew 7:3 And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:5 Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother’s eye.

Forgive AND Forget.

The bitter person tends to harbor injustice and chew on it and rehash it every chance they get. They then often spread it to others where it germinates and takes root.

One way to tell if we are bitter about anything: We can look at our own lives; is there anything that we have a tendency to dwell on or bring up time after time?

No one can do these three things [kind, tenderhearted, forgiving] and continue to be bitter at the same time.

Continuing on from ch 4: Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

If there is one thing that we should be is forgiving, considering what Jesus Christ did for us.


The seed of bitterness is sown in us when we perceive a transgression towards us and it is not immediately forgiven.  Failure to weed it out is to allow it to take root a little more every day.

It is a pervasive attitude that can be seen in the furrowed brow and comes out as venomous words and wreaks of bile in our actions.

When you allow it, bitterness comes up and defiles many people.

It makes many people filthy.

What happens to a person if he keeps bitterness on the inside for many years? You have kept this poison within and this acid on the inside has made you.

Bitterness Defiles

What do you think happens if a person keeps this within them? Eats you from the inside out. What do you think happens if a person lets it out? It can

Some people want to hang on and give into their bitterness and carnality which seems easier to do.

Bitterness is like cancer. It will eat us up internally. If we love another person, we cannot really be bitter toward that person. If there is still bitterness in our hearts toward another person, then do not have the love towards one another that we should.

Its ultimate end will be the same as Satan’s, who is poster boy of Bitterness.

Instead let’s drink in of God’s Spirit and allow it to displace who and what we naturally are with the root of His righteousness.