Bitterness Unveiled: Its Workings, Influences, and Effects

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

bitter is spiritual cancer showing a resentful couple

Bitterness is spiritual in its workings, holistic in its influence and catastrophic in its effects. It spreads like cancer, affecting various life areas once it takes root.

In its literal interpretation, bitterness refers to the unpleasant taste sensation elicited by eating something bitter. This concept embodies two principal elements: the sensation (bitter taste) and the causative agent or trigger (the bitter substance). However, our focus shifts to the figurative interpretation of bitterness—a persistent state of displeasure, resentment, anger, or hatred. This emotional response is triggered by experiences of injury, hurt, or insult, whether through actions, words, or our circumstances.

Bitterness functions on a spiritual level, operating from the core of our spiritual being—our hearts. It permeates the spiritual dimensions of our existence, manifesting physical effects. Bitterness inflicts harm upon the heart, influencing both spirit and soul, thereby inviting hostile spiritual forces. Crucially, it estranges us from God and may expose us to demonic influences. For instance, bitterness can diminish the influence of God’s power in our lives, essentially laying out an open invitation for demonic entities to torment an individual.

Bitterness exerts a holistic influence, originating from the spiritual aspect of our being. It operates on a spiritual level, impacting our lives in ways that may defy logical understanding. For example, someone deeply hurt by a past relationship may experience deteriorating health—a phenomenon that, while perplexing from a natural standpoint, makes sense spiritually. Proverbs 4:23 teaches that the condition of our hearts dictates the course of our lives, underscoring how our spiritual state can affect all areas of our existence.

Ultimately, the effects of bitterness are devastating. Drawing from my dual roles as a physician and minister, I liken the impact of bitterness to that of cancer. Rooted in and fueled by spiritual factors, bitterness compounds sorrow upon sorrow, pain upon pain, and hurt upon hurt. It acts as a magnet, drawing further negative situations and experiences that exacerbate existing pain and sorrow. Consequently, individuals consumed by bitterness tend to lead lives marked by continuous strife and misery, reflecting the truth of Proverbs 4:23: the state of our hearts shapes the trajectory of our lives.

As if the challenges already mentioned were not daunting enough, the task of overcoming bitterness presents a uniquely complex hurdle. Confronting bitterness is among the most formidable challenges we face, akin to battling lust or any sin. The key to success depends on the strength the Holy Spirit provides. Success lies not in reliance on our strength but in seeking divine assistance. To surmount bitterness, we must yield to the Spirit, surrender our will to God, and let His Word guide us to healing and wholeness. Attempting this journey by our own strength only prolongs our suffering and struggle.

Bitterness frequently stems from relational conflicts, making forgiveness—toward others and ourselves—a pivotal step. This is underscored by Paul’s transition from discussing bitterness in Ephesians 4:31 to advocating for kindness and forgiveness in the subsequent verse:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV)

In summary, beware of the often concealed yet potent adversary—bitterness. Strive to eradicate it from your life, fostering a healthier spiritual and physical wellbeing.


Is your heart in a state that could impact your relationships, finances, health, and more? Reflect on Proverbs 4:23 as you contemplate this question.

Apply The Word

Diligently work to eliminate all bitterness. Once bitterness is relinquished, this may result in immediate healing, deliverance from oppressive forces, or a significant breakthrough for some.


Entreat the Father for assistance in eradicating every vestige of bitterness from your heart.

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  1. Wonderful truths! I am going to share this with someone I know that lives everyday with bitterness and is not saved.

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