Is It Correct to Say That Our Bitter Root Expectations Can Defile Others

By Amy

Is it correct to say that our bitter root expectations can "defile" others? Does John Sandford and Elijah House believe our expectations can override another's free will? [in answer to a video school student's questions]:

Student's first question:Would you please give me some synonyms for "defile" as the ministry uses the term? That might answer or clarify the following question for me.

Can we defile others by our bitter root expectancies if they do not have a sin in their hearts, such as a corresponding judgment or expectancy, that would cause them to give in to our expectancies?

Answer:The Old Testament uses the word, "defile," to describe touching unclean things or eating unclean food.  But the New Testament uses it to describe the uncleanness that defiles us from within (New Testament).  Specifically, Jesus said, "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean' " (Mt. 15:11).  In terms of bitter root expectations, this would mean that nothing others do to us can make us unclean.  It is what comes from our hearts (our own sinful reactions to those expectations) that makes us unclean.

Elijah House has sometimes used the word, "defile," to describe another phenomenon--what happens when our expectations exert a powerful tug on another person.  We do not believe this can overcome another's free will, although it can indeed be difficult to resist.  For instance, I can expect others to reject me, and others might feel that expectancy tugging at them.  But my expectancy cannot force them to reject me; it can only sorely tempt them to.  They are responsible for whether or not they give in to that temptation.  We have sometimes called this tug, "defilement."  The use of the same word for this concept and the biblical one can be confusing.  For that reason, as I revised my family's books, I replaced this use of "defile" (the "tug" definition) with different words and phrases (see the answer to the next question).

Student's second question:In the school session on Bitter Roots, I think John said that BRJ's have the fullness of power of law behind them and therefore can overcome another's free will.  If you look at p.30 of the manual, it says Bitter roots are NOT powerful enough to overcome the free will of another.  What is accurate?

Answer:If you question John, he will wholeheartedly agree with what is written on page 30 (in fact, he was the first one to state this!).  However, in his characteristic enthusiasm, John used to sometimes chose a word that conveyed a concept's emotional "punch," but which could leave open the possibility of misunderstanding about the word's literal meaning.  For this reason, with his permission, as I revised his books I changed the wording in passages that said our expectations can "cause" others to sin.  And I avoided the extra-biblical use of "defile," replacing it with other words and phrases.   New wording states, for instance, that our expectations "can exert a powerful tug" on others, and can thus "sorely tempt" them to sin, but not that they can "cause" anyone to sin.

One might protest that Hebrews 12:15 says that our bitter roots can indeed "defile many."  But Paul, who wrote Hebrews, would never have said anything that contradicted the teachings of Jesus.  In light of Jesus' teaching (that only what comes out of one's own heart can defile oneself), we must interpret Paul's words to mean that our bitter roots defile by tempting others into sinning of their own volition, not that they cause others to sin.

It is my opinion that in everyday speech as well, we should avoid using the term, "defile" in any way except the way in which Jesus used it, unless we take time to clarify the alternate definition.  

© Elijah House 2011 

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