How to Be Free From Bitterness

Jim Wilson, the father of Doug Wilson, has a superb little booklet on How to Be Free From Bitterness, and it is a jewel of a find. It was encouraging and challenging to me personally, but will also be a frequent and valuable resource to use in my own counseling and discipleship of others. You can find other PDFs of Jim Wilson’s, like this one on being a responsible man, on this page.

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…”

Here’s a remarkably helpful truth that gets pointed out once in a while in the biblical counseling world… but rarely sinks in and affects the way we think about the temptations we face.

There are basically three complaints, or excuses, people have when they face temptation:

  1. No one knows, or can understand, what I’m going through.
  2. This is too much for me to handle.
  3. There’s no way out — I have to sin.

How do you respond to someone who believes one or all of these excuses? Or how do you deal with these thoughts in your own soul? Well, you turn to Scripture and allow it to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (our youth camp’s theme verse this year!). Did you know that there is one Bible verse that answers all three of these excuses?

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. — 1 Corinthians 10:13

Look at what this verse tells us about temptation. First, you’re not facing anything new (“except what is common to man”). Second, God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist and escape (“he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability”). Third, God Himself will provide you a way of escape from that temptation (“He will also provide the way of escape”), so that you can endure the trial and not succumb to sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 systematically refutes every excuse people give for giving in to temptation and following their flesh, and verse 14 tells us that the fundamental issue is idolatry. The solution then is to “flee idolatry” and worship the one true God.

So, why do we still sin? If it’s not something we are powerless over (as 1 Cor 10:13 makes clear), why do we still choose to follow the flesh rather than follow Christ? Well, there are only three fundamental reasons believers don’t obey Christ at any given moment, but we’ll look at that another time!

virtus et honos