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God’s high calling for Titus 2 women of grace, is for them to express love that their husbands and children can feel. To most of us mature 21st century believers that may sound wonderful. To them it must have sounded impossible. As we open to Ephesians 4, think about how hard it has always been to live pleasing to God, in this ungodly world.

The Cretans of Paul’s day lived in an ego-centered, selfish society that knew and cared little about forgiveness. Roman society became so decadent that it saw forgiving people as weak and unforgiving ones as strong. Cretans celebrated vengeful gods and exalted as heroes those who took vengeance on others. The result was a society so much like America today—filled with bitterness, vengeance, anger, hate, and hostility.

More and more we see people seeking vengeance either outside or inside the bounds of the law. Just this week a crowd in Oakland, California rioted, looted, and wreaked havoc to get even for a crime they felt was not justly punished. This pervasive unwillingness to forgive in our society is also the leading cause of the breakups in family relationships .

Bitterness Pervaded the World of the Bible

God wanted the lost pagans living on Crete to see their changed lives and be confronted with living examples of Jesus Christ. Society was to be flooded at every level with the irrefutable proof of changed lives.

Paul sent the details for the invasion of this strategic island in his letter to Titus. We have been studying these admonitions in Titus 2. These life-truths have always deeply impacted any society. When the Gospel, that brings this impossible life into the heart of a newly saved individual, starts to work through Christ’s church, the world takes notice.

God has always worked out His plan in this world through individual believers who struggle through life. One of the struggles believers have always faced while seeking to follow the Lord is how to avoid allowing the hurts of life to turn into simmering bitterness.

The key passage in the New Testament epistles, that warns about the dangers of bitterness is Ephesians 4:29-32, Let’s go there.

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. NKJV

Did you notice the list of “Spirit-Grievers” in v. 31? The immeasurable power of God, poured out through our lives by the Holy Spirit is stopped, plugged up, staunched, and greatly hindered when His people disobey in these critical areas. God’s grace teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:11-13), but when we resist that grace, our sin grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit .

So Paul says don’t allow your choices to grieve the Spirit of God, don’t quench Him, because apart from God’s power nothing can be done that will last. Just as the congregations back then were told to deny ungodliness in any form, so must we also today.

But what heads the list of “Spirit-grievers” in Ephesians 4:31? Let “all bitterness” that is every kind, every form, every way it is manifested; get rid of anything to do with bitterness because it threatens the very heart of your daily spiritual life!

Bitterness is a very deadly, fast-growing, and easily spread form: of spiritual cancer. So the bottom line is that:

Lives Energized by the Spirit Are Hindered by Bitterness

Each time the word bitterness is used in the New Testament, it always is a form of the Greek word pic. This word means just what the tool by the similar sounding word comes from, “to prick or cut.” This Greek word used for bitterness implies something that pricks or punctures and penetrates deeply.