• Steve Derenge

Weeding Out Wormwood from Your Garden

The famed author and theologian C.S. Lewis was very insightful. I don’t know if C.S. Lewis had a deliverance ministry to any extent, but I wonder if through studying the word of God he had it illumined by the Holy Spirit that Wormwood is an actual demon. Previously I just presumed that he used the name in his classic book The Screwtape Letters in at least an allegorical sense. Doing an ESV word search of “wormwood,” I observed some things from which we could make a case that Wormwood is an actual demon and how he operates. We could also just refer to him as a spirit of “bitterness.” C.f. Lamentations 3:15, 19.

Wormwood often works together with Death and other spiritual enemies.

“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol;”

Proverbs 5:3-5 ESV

Wormwood in verse 4 could refer to the bitter-tasting plant in the natural realm by that name, but could there also be an embedded parallel truth in the spiritual realm? Falling to the temptation to dabble in sexual immorality (sex outside the confines of marriage) and/or the occult can open the door to other bothersome nuisances in one’s life, such as bitterness and premature death.

How does sexual immorality lead to bitterness?

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.”

Hebrews 12:14-16 ESV

Like Esau despised his birthright and sold it for a single meal, instant gratification from fornication (sex before marriage) or adultery kills the possibility of trust and intimacy within a marriage. (1) Such a great loss will result in bitterness towards those partners involved in the lust affairs. The only way for the bitterness, guilt, and shame to be removed is to enter a love relationship with a perfect Person who freely gives such unconditional forgiveness, love, grace, and a brand new start that it is as if one never committed that unfaithfulness in the first place. c.f. 2 Corinthians 5:17ff; 11:2; etc.

Wormwood gets access to people who have suffered injustice and keeps them from bearing spiritual fruit, stealing their joy and peace.

Amos 5:7 - “O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!”

Amos 6:12b - “But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood [or bitter fruit]—”

When do people become bitter? When they have suffered injustice. Bitterness will eat away at a person’s body and soul, so to be free from bitterness, one needs a Redeemer who through great personal sacrifice will restore all that the embittered person has lost. [Keep on reading to discover where that good news comes in.]

Wormwood will one day in the future be released upon the earth with a greater measure of legal permission to operate as an agent of God’s wrath.

“The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.”

Revelation 8:10-11 ESV

What happens in the natural (physical) realm first takes place in the spiritual realm, which is even more real than the natural realm. Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation, we see that “stars” falling to the earth refers to spirit beings falling from one realm to another. C.f. Isaiah 14:12ff; Revelation 1:20; 12:4; etc. In this future event, Wormwood will manifest itself on earth as people become incredibly bitter and also die from Wormwood contaminating the world water supply during that End Time outpouring of God’s wrath. The good news is that you can escape the effects of bitterness by submitting your allegiance to Him who has all authority over Wormwood and demons of every other name.

Conclusion and Application

If anyone ever had the right to be bitter, it was Jesus Christ. He never did wrong to anybody, violated nobody, and perfectly loved everyone like a perfect father or friend would. However, embittered, jealous people falsely accused him and had him hideously shamed, agonizingly mocked, brutally tortured, and wickedly murdered. However, Jesus did not hold a grudge, but forgave his murderers who humiliated him and cut his life short. He did this so that our guilt, shame, humiliation, and bitterness of heart can be removed and filled with his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

This occurs when we enter into a relationship with God by submitting our allegiance to Jesus. That is, like a marriage relationship, we commit to be faithful to Him, for He will never forsake us and desires to continually pour His love into our hearts.

The following is just a suggested prayer for how you can invite Jesus into your life. Pray it out loud if it expresses the desire of your heart, and with God as witness, Jesus will enter into an eternity-long relationship with you: (2)


I want to know You personally. I confess that I have been full of bitterness and captive to sin. I rebelled against Your perfect plan for my life, and as a result I have ended up disappointed. Thank You that when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. I believe that Christ died for my sins, so that my bitterness, guilt, and shame before You can be removed. In my heart I believe that You raised Christ from the dead, demonstrating that Your power and goodness is greater than the effects of all the world’s evil.

I now confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. I commit myself to follow you, Jesus; come into my life and make me into the kind of person you want me to be. As I forgive every person who has ever hurt me, I thank you for weeding all bitterness (Wormwood) out of my life, so that my life will bear much fruit that pleases you. No longer will my life produce the bitter fruit of wrath, anger, slander, gossip, etc., but will instead produce the fruit of righteousness and of the Holy Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen. (2)

  1. The thief (evil spirits) come only to steal, kill, and destroy, whether that be our finances, marriages, relationships, joy, health, etc. c.f. John 10:10.

  2. For those of us who already entered into a committed relationship with Jesus Christ, we can still pray this prayer by thanking God for how He is already in our lives, asking and trusting Him to remove any lingering traces of bitterness in us, taking authority to command all bitterness to leave in Jesus’ name, and relaxing and surrendering to God's love filling the vacant room in our soul from which Wormwood was forcefully evicted.

  3. See John 17:3; Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14,23; 5:8; 10:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; John 1:12; Matthew 6:9-15; John 15:1ff; Ephesians 4:31; Philippians 1:9-11; Galatians 5:22-23.


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