Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lay Aside Envy and Evil Speaking

We are currently looking at 1 Peter 2:1. In this passage, Peter says, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking. We have already looked at “malice, deceit,” and “hypocrisy.” Today, we are looking at “envy” and “evil speaking.” These too are vices that we are to put off.

The word Peter uses for “envy” (phthonos) refers to “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others” (W.E. Vine). This is a “Hatred of others on account of some excellency which they have, or something which they possess which we do not” (Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). John Gill says this is envy “at each other's happiness and prosperity, riches, honours, gifts temporal or spiritual” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible). “Envy is a sin that carries its own reward: It guarantees its own frustration and disappointment. By definition, the envious person cannot be satisfied with what he has and will always crave for more. His evil desires and pleasures are insatiable, and he cannot abide by any other person’s having something that he himself does not have or having more of something than he himself has” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Titus).

Envy is a feature of our life before salvation. Paul includes it when he says in Titus 3:3, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” Envy is also one of the works of the flesh. Paul includes it in the list found in Galatians 5:21. This also marks out those whom God has given up to a debased mind. Romans 1:29 says they are “full of envy.” When we read Mark 15:10 we learn that this was the attitude of those who delivered Jesus to Pilate. Mark records, “For he (Pilate) knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.” Along with “all malice, all deceit” and “hypocrisy,” we are to put off “envy.”

Peter gives one more vice in his list in 1 Peter 2:1 and it is “evil speaking” (v.1e). This is the Greek word katalalia, which means to “speak against, often involving speaking evil of” (Lou-Nida). It is “hostile speech” (Friberg), “insult” (UBS), “evil speech, slander” (Kittel), “defamation - back-biting” (Strong). It is “‘speaking down’ a person, referring to the act of defaming, slandering, speaking against another” (Wuest). Many churches have been destroyed because of the tongue. Paul said that his fear in leaving Ephesus was “that from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30). The church at Corinth experienced much division — all because of the tongue (See 1 Cor.1:10-12; 3:3-5; 2 Cor.12:20). The church at Galatia also experienced the power of the tongue to the point of leading many astray. Paul said in Galatians 1:6-9, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

We must make sure we do not slander or speak evil of others. Whether you’re an older person as Titus 2:3 says, “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things” or one who officially serves in the church. 1 Timothy 3:11 says, “Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.” Slander or evil speaking is not fitting for a believer—it is sin. One person once said, “A slip of the foot may be soon recovered; but that of the tongue, perhaps never” (Drapers). Paul gives instructions concerning this when he says in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” James also instructs his readers in James 4:11, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” Francis Quarles said, “Close your ear against him who opens his mouth against another. If you receive not his words, they fly back and wound him. If you receive them, they fly forward and wound you.” This sounds like good advice.

Peter says that in order to “desire the pure milk of the word,” you must lay aside sin. How are you doing? Ask God to search your heart today.

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