James tells us, “If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14-16).
Take note of whom James is addressing here. In verse 13 he says, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?” He is telling us, “You may have great spiritual wisdom and knowledge. But if there is bitterness in your home, strife in your heart, envy at your workplace, don’t think you are spiritual at all. You are under a lying delusion.”
When James speaks of strife and bitterness, he is talking about arguing and faultfinding. And he says all of it is devilish, sensual, works of evil. In short, anyone who holds on to bitterness causes strife—and worse, he opens his heart to demonic possession.
Do you know people whose bitterness has led to satanic possession? Over time, their outer person begins to manifest the darkness they have held inside. Eventually their body begins to break down, becoming diseased and shriveled, and they suffer mental imbalances. Whenever the devil is given such ground, he works utter destruction.
So, go ahead, hold your grudge. Keep your bitterness. Continue stirring up strife. If you do, you will be in total rebellion against God and His Word and you’ll open yourself up to Satan. You will become spiritually blind and hardened in heart.
On the other hand, if you are spiritual—willingly obedient to God’s Word—then no matter how injured you are, you’ll show the peaceable wisdom of gentleness by forgiving.
On a trip to Jerusalem, I saw a powerful example of how Satan can get a demonic foothold in even the smallest patch of ground. As I looked down over the Holy City from the Mount of Olives, I saw the land where the Muslim Dome of the Rock temple sits.
That tiny piece of ground is perhaps only part of an acre. Yet somehow Satan got his hands on it and built a temple to himself, which now has become the abomination of desolation, as mentioned in Scripture. The devil has managed to focus his powers in the very midst of God’s once-chosen people, Israel. And it all happened because he got just a small foothold. This is a vivid picture of what Satan does when he gains even the smallest piece of ground.