Bitter Root Alliances

by Morris Ruddick on December 12, 2012


© Morris Ruddick

A few years back I was witness to an unfolding sequence of interpersonal interactions in a ministry that never should have happened in a Christian setting. It involved offenses. These offenses became the catalyst to setting in motion the most devilish examples of the flesh I have ever witnessed.

Although repeated apologies were made, the apologies were not accepted and the offended party self-righteously justified embracing the offense through a gradual exaggeration of its “merits.” As the situation evolved, the offenses were systematically spread to others. Those actively “listening” took up the offense of this individual and in the process, actually created situations in which they too were offended. Common ground was found in the “offenses.” The “offended” parties banded together. What had begun as informal “whisperings” digressed into an alliance with its meaning and purpose grounded in this expanding bitter root.

As this bitter root grew, it took on a life of its own. What began as a simple offense grew into an obsessive need for vindication. With animosity running rampant, this band fueled its self-righteous purpose-for-being by finding what they perceived as flaws in the one they previously had held in high esteem. They became accusers, aligning themselves with THE accuser of the brethren.

Truth was lost and perspective blinded. The contagion ultimately evolved into a scandalous effort to undermine and destroy this person’s reputation.

The Dynamics of Betraying, Bitter Root Alliances
In Luke 22: 2-6 we read, “And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him [Jesus], but they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.”

Judas was an insider. However, Judas’ loyalties were not fully with Jesus. He was a part of the fanatical party of the Zealots who sought the overthrow of the Romans. Jesus was simply a means to an end in Judas’ personal priorities. Sometime in the course of Jesus’ ministry, Judas became disillusioned. He was a man without honor. A corner was turned when he began “confiding” with others of a kindred spirit. But it was a kindred spirit with a twist: his alliance was with the oppressors the Zealots sought to overthrow. Judas, the insider provided God’s enemies with the means of access to God’s anointed, which they would never have had otherwise.

The operation of the Judas spirit can only manifest when a betraying alliance is formed. It is an unholy alliance instigated by an insider; an unholy alliance awash in hypocrisy. The Judas alliance has no REAL agenda of its own, except that of undermining the genuine work of another as it diabolically betrays the innocent. Hebrews 12:15 instructs us:  “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”

The Bitter Root
In this war between the flesh and the Spirit, uncontrolled feelings and passions are the gateway into trouble. When it happens, it “springs up” and can happen quickly and unexpectedly.

The root of bitterness pivots on the antithesis of a truth from Proverbs 16, where it says that “he who rules his own spirit is mightier than he who takes a city.” Far too many are candidates in this seductive spiritual struggle between soul and spirit. They either don’t know the Scriptures, they choose to ignore them, or they override them with their self-justified fleshly passions. In a word, their feelings and passions are allowed to dominate and become obsessions.

Judas used his position with Jesus for his personal agendas without ever really having a grasp for what the Lord was doing. It emphasizes the importance of why so many of today’s modern-day Josephs have been through such a long, excruciating preparation period. There’s a cost for those called to be entrusted with Kingdom roles within seats of power.

The influence of the bitter root is no small matter. For some, the choice of bitterness sadly creates distorted views of reality that simply begets more bitterness, pain and destruction, as it defiles many. A bitter root does not trust. Its tendency is in finding fault and pointing the finger. It operates self-protectively and surreptitiously. It is at odds with those not sharing the bitterness, with its ultimate fruit self-defeating.

A bitter root will grow and find its own purpose for being. Bitter roots will always find reasons for offenses, which will cut off the blessings of God when allowed to “spring up” and fester. Bitter roots are infectious. From them MANY are defiled.

Blindness and Betrayal
A blinding deception operates at the core of bitter roots, spurring betraying, Judas alliances. It is a deception marked by confusion and fear: a fear of what man can do to you, a fear of shame, a fear of rejection, a fear driven by insecurities.

It is a fear of being exposed for what or who you are and a compulsion to avoid exposure. It is a compulsion that will go to any means in its distorted, limited view of reality in order to achieve its ends. It is a blindness that undermines the operation of faith. It is a fear impelled by the unconscious predisposition of “I’m going to get my way, regardless,” or that of “I’m going to get my revenge, whatever the cost.”

People who struggle with operating within established authority structures are often characterized by a trail of failures in their quest for recognition, which holds the potential for instability and lapses of loyalty. They are people who can become street-wise and adept at the lip-service required to gain the acceptance to become insiders; but as insiders whose soul issues carry the potential of becoming talebearers. Proverbs speaks of talebearers and the correlation of talebearers as the instigators of strife and division.

There is no doubt that there was a point when the bitter root operating in Judas began springing forth. When it did, it became an accusing spirit. Revelations 12:10 describes Satan as the “accuser of the brethren.” The accusing spirit is devoid of mercy and seeks only to finds flaws. It projects its own style of evil to the one it accuses as it plots its fault-finding mission. The accusing spirit is the foundation of the uncontrolled, blind passion that leads to betrayal.

Confrontation and fear of exposure actuate the Judas alliance. A person with a genuine Judas spirit is neither correctable nor trustworthy. When exposure is near or has just occurred, the underlying purposes of one under a Judas spirit will come to the forefront as it begins justifying itself by initiating an “alliance.” This unholy alliance allowed to go unchecked will have its full manifestation in betrayal. Psalm 41: 9 (Amplified Bible) prophetically describes this dynamic:  “Even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted (relied on and was confident), who ate of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

The Choices When Confronted by Evil
The issue for the Body is to know and to respond in the Spirit and God’s will when confronted by evil at this level. It requires a courage, presence of mind and resolution to biblically stay-the-course in the face of this type of adversity.

Without full repentance, those whose priorities are seduced by their passions risk being enticed into progressively deeper pits of evil. Some need to be pulled out of the fire. For the innocent targets of bitter root alliances, the response to evil holds the potential of becoming their finest hour. Yet, that course will only be attained through a deeper commitment and resolve to “love not their lives unto the death” and to keeping their eyes on the Lord, walking through the fire of evil-unmasked.

So, what is it in practical terms creating the blindness that leads to this unleashing of evil? In short, the catalyst is comprised of self-justifying tongue-wagging driven by offenses. Although self-defeating, unbridled tongues lay the groundwork for devilish inroads and malicious ripples. Proverbs tells us that a “fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing their own heart.” It also provides the insight that a “fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

It all begins with one person and the whispers of “confiding” the spin of an offense with whoever will listen. The “innocence” of what initially may be concerned-listening can grow and take on a life of its own.

Participation in venting, gossip and hearsay, either actively or passively, is not for the mature. The scripture is very clear in terms of acting on one-sided charges against an absent third party. In Matthew 18 Jesus addresses the issue with the Deuteronomy 19:15 admonition to bring one or two others to the one charged in order to verify the things being said.
“The first one who pleads his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.”
Proverbs 18: 17

For Those Impacted by Bitter Root Alliances
Understanding the times and responding to escalations of evil and its assaults requires something MORE. This “something more” has also got to be of the right spirit to avoid being ensnared and waylaid by the devil’s schemes.

At this level a balance is required between not acquiescing to the devil’s schemes and the avoidance of overreaction or responses in the flesh. The response needs to major in forgiveness, mercy and repentance and avoid the temptation to buckle under to the offenses and seducing bitter roots. The need to seek the Lord for the wisdom that is from above cannot be overstated: the wisdom that is pure, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy.  The response will involve emptying ourselves before the Lord, so that He might fill us and enable us with the strategic alternatives needed for the specific situation. Clever schemes and brilliant ideas lacking the anointing will fall short.

Taking on a bitter root alliance requires maturity and consistency of response. Each situation will be different. However, the Lord will always provide the wisdom needed, but that wisdom may not always be the same or conform to our natural inclinations. The following are offered as points of wisdom to be considered during this process.

Face the Fire. The potential impact of a Judas alliance carries the requirement for zero fear. That means realistically facing the potential consequences, by responding as Daniel did when faced with the lion’s den or Joseph did when sold into slavery; with an unwavering trust in God.

Communion with Him. Enhancing that trust entails increasing both the sacrament of communion, as well as the time spent communing with Him. Believers in the first-century church met together regularly for communion. Many I know today take communion on a personal, daily basis. The sacrament, done with an open heart and repentance, punctuates our total dependence on Him. Time in His presence, with a listening heart, will yield an unfolding of the specifics of the wisdom required.

Rule Your Spirit. Facing overwhelming assaults of evil entails a resolute faith. This requires a disciplined mind. It also necessitates much self-control with your words concerning the issues AND those with whom the matter is shared. Avoid criticism. Proactively bless those who curse or have participated by making wrong statements. Be highly selective within even the mature, with whom the matter is shared for prayer.

Identification Intercession. Standing in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30) has long been a sound intercession strategy. Likewise, identification repentance has been used effectively for pulling down generational strongholds. In my own prayer closet, the Lord has recently given me fresh ways to stand in the gap in difficult situations: by identifying the gap in the one being prayed for; then examining my own heart to repent for those same things in my own life, even if it is only a fraction of a percent of my behaviors, thoughts or attitudes, before praying more fully for the person.

Steadfast Stewardship. Steadfast stewardship within your sphere in the face of overwhelming situations can be a challenge, but through His strength it can and must be reached for. There will be times that faithful stewardship within fiery tribulations represents a process for which only God can see the long term value.

Expect, but Manage the Unexpected
Facing and then walking into the fire, with God’s strategy, will turn what the enemy meant for evil into good. It will release the one facing the fire into their finest hour.

Joseph was betrayed by an alliance of his brothers. Years later when his brothers came to Egypt because of the famine, Joseph tested them. While some contend that the testing of his brothers was his struggle with the flesh in forgiving them, that premise doesn’t conform to either scripture or the calling God entrusted to Joseph; or Joseph’s wisdom and sensitivity to the Lord so clearly evident at each level in his rise to power in Egypt. Forgiveness and trust are two separate matters.

What Joseph was seeking in the series of tests he put his brothers through, was for the clear expression of their repentance. Without that, he was placing his God-given responsibility in jeopardy. Joseph understood who he was in the Lord, the sphere of his calling and the authority that went with it. He was sold out to the Lord and never wavered in being God’s man for the occasion.

In facing the fire, we will begin seeing an increase in both the sphere and authority entrusted to us. As we operate as wise as serpents and harmless as doves, holiness and humility will actuate the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. As we follow-through with this process in the Spirit, we will truly say with the Psalmist, that “God is my strength and shield, my very hope in times of trouble” and find rest in the truth from Isaiah that “no weapon formed against us will be able to prosper.”

The Psalmist cried out to the Lord, “let the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart, be acceptable in your sight.” The most deadly weapon we can strike against the enemy is to resist evil by coming into the presence of the Lord and laying down our feelings and passions before Him. The power of that weapon is multiplied, as we lay it all down, in obedience to the Lord, in our efforts to serve others.

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