One Step At A Time Christian Growth Series - Step 21 - Root Problems
“But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?”
Job 19:28

Years ago, a China-ball tree had to be removed next to a church. A tree company was called. They used an electric saw to remove the tree below the surface and then covered up the indentation with dirt. The tree was no longer visible. However, time passed, and little trees began to sprout up all around. The tree was not visible, but the root was still present.

This incident is similar to how some Christians deal with their spiritual problems. They simply cut the tree down. The root is never removed! Proverbs says, “He that covered his sin shall not prosper.” Though man looks on the outside, God looks on the inside.

Jesus’ stern warning to the Pharisees was that they were clean outwardly, but were inwardly filled with dead men’s bones. If we take care of the inward, the outward will take care of itself. The root will take care of the fruit.

Job 19:28, “But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?”

Christian, you will begin seeing victory when you begin taking the blame for your sin. Like the song, “It’s me, It’s me, It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” If a tree is producing deformed or diseased fruit, you have to examine the root. The world’s philosophy preaches that if you clean up the fruit, all will be okay. The problem is not the fruit, but the root!

Look at these illustrations:

Surface fruit

Underground root

Not smiling No joy
Worldly clothing Loving men’s praise
Rock music Rebellious heart
Bad posture Laziness
Pornography Perverted mind
Marriage problems Selfishness
Nervousness Prayerlessness

In San Francisco some time ago, a report was given about a “Bleach Man,” who was helping the city’s AIDS problem. He was giving out free bottles of bleach to drug users so they could sterilize their needles! He is chopping off branches-not pulling up roots.

The same error is found in sex-education in the public schools. Young unmarried girls are getting pregnant. The world’s answer is to educate them and give them free methods of birth control. God’s answer is to work on their heart, so it will be pure, and teach them self-control and the importance of virginity.

Notice some Bible characters’ possible root problems:


Surface Problem

Root Cause

Esau Hungry Impetuous
Peter Talked too much Pride
Judas Thief Unsaved
Demas Forsook Paul Worldliness
Absalom Long Hair Rebellion

There are three basic root problems that allow all other sins into the heart:



Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

This is the person whose feelings rule their life. Samson, David, Absolom, and Amnon, to name just a few, had this root problem. Lust and love get very confused in this person’s life.

Lust vs. Love
Wants now-
Can wait
Is selfish -
Is giving
Is physical -
Is spiritual
Revealed In Words

Matthew 15:18, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”

When a person uses filthy language it reveals an immoral lust. Dirty jokes and cursing don’t just “slip” out of your mouth. It surfaces from the heart.

Revealed In The Mind

God is concerned about what Christians think. The Bible speaks of filthy dreamers. Dreams are simply our mind unwinding at night. Fantasies of immorality reveal a wicked heart. When someone takes something dirty that was intended to be clean, it reveals an immoral root.

Revealed In Clothing

Isaiah 47:1-5, “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man. As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel. Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.”

God is very interested in Christians dressing modestly. The Bible defines nakedness on a woman as revealing the thigh. Miniskirts, shorts, slits above the knee, etc. reveal a root of immorality. Wearing a swim suit where the opposite sex can see you is also nakedness. Though God sees our heart, man sees only the outside. It is important what we wear.

Revealed in Literature

Pornography, romance novels, etc. reveal a heart that is not right in God’s eyes. Psalms 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Both photographs and word pictures stay in our mind forever. Thoughts lead to actions.

Revealed In Television Habits

The root of immorality is fertilized by watching soap operas and television shows that major on bedroom scenes, nudity, and passion. You cannot watch television without it affecting you. Jeremiah said, “Mine eye affecteth my heart.” If you cannot control your television, it would be wise to discard it. Before viewing a show, ask yourself, “Does it have any nudity in it? Who are the heroes? Does it contain any cursing?”

Revealed In Music

Psalms 40:3, “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”

God wants us to have a new song of praise to Him. Most rock groups and country singers major on immoral relationships. A rock star once said: “Rock music is 100% sex.” The phrase rock-n-roll is a term for immorality in itself. Most performers of the world’s music are addicts of perversion. Sensual, breathy, ‘night clubish’ music is wrong.

Revealed In Men’s Eyes

Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

A man was observed staring at an immodestly dressed women while driving his automobile. He ran into the car in front of him. It would have been fun to see how he explained that to his wife! A man of God can control his eyes and look at a lady’s face instead of her body. Lust is a ditch sin; once into it, it is difficult to climb out. Control your eyes!



Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”

There are usually two reasons people get bitter. One is because of their appearance. If you had the power to change any feature about your appearance, would you do it? Are you satisfied with your appearance? All fifty Miss America contestants were once asked that same question, and all said no. If you had the power to change any feature about your appearance, would you do it? Are your ears too big? Teeth crooked? Too short?

Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Not being satisfied with the way we look is actually bitterness toward God. It’s saying that God made a mistake. He makes no mistakes! He designed exactly what you would look like before you were even born!

The second reason for bitterness is by being deeply hurt. Has anyone hurt you deeply? Perhaps they lied to you, gossiped about you, robbed you, owed you money or physically abused you. The underlying reason for bitterness is pride. We feel we deserve to be treated better that we were. If we all got what we deserved, we would be in hell forever! Forgiveness is the answer to overcoming bitterness.



1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Jesus spoke five times as much about money and possessions as He did about any other subject. He knew how much like pack rats we are. Instead of things serving us, we are tempted to serve things. A car, clothing, money, a house, a boat, a hobby, can destroy our life if out of place.

Baruch had this problem. Jeremiah asked him this question in Jeremiah 45:5, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.”

Mark 5:13, “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.”

Proverbs 11:28, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”

Most people spend their lives in discontentment, chasing after things.


The longer a root is in a life, the deeper it grows. The atheist says, “There is no root.” The liberal says, “Just saw the tree off so it’s not visible.” The worldly person says, “Fertilize the root.” God tells us to remove the root! Why don’t more Christians have victory over root problems in their lives? Simple. It takes less effort to just saw off the branches. It takes much effort and time to pull up the roots. How long would it take to mow your back yard? How long would it take to pull up the grass in your back yard by hand? See the difference?

What is wrong with leaving root problems in your life? As long as those rotten roots are there, sin can enter your life and corrupt the fruit. The fruit of the Spirit cannot grow like it wants. God wants our lives to be fruitful for Him so lost people can notice our beautiful Christian fruits.

Do you want victory over root problems? Here are some steps:

1. Admit to God and yourself which root or roots are present in your life.

2. Look up and memorize specific scriptures that talk about your root problem. (Some are in this lesson. Use your concordance for others.)

3. Clean up. Get rid of everything you own that could keep the root growing.

4. Replace what you get rid of with a godly substitute.

5. Get help. Enlist a Christian who is having victory in their life to help you.

6. Bathe in the Bible and prayer. John 15 is an excellent chapter on how to get the proper fruit in your life.

Scripture verses are from the King James Holy Bible.
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