Is Your Christian Life, Evil?

None of us who are Christians would ever think nor probably consider the idea that our Christian lives could become in fact, “evil.”  Most of us try to live a Christian life that moves past and around the temptations of evil and its work in the world. Our hearts are in the right place for sure.

Yet, when we look at the bible carefully and how God defines evil, we may discover the sobering reality that the very thing we wish to overcome is the very thing our Christian life has become… evil.

The word used for “evil” in the New Testament is poneros. Every time the word evil comes up in the New Testament this word “poneros” is used. Now when we think of evil or people who are evil, we immediately think of evil in terms of something bad or carnal. But is this how God defines evil? Is “evil” simply the idea of something being immoral, malicious, or of the devil?  

For example in Hebrews, chapter  3, we see a reference to a person having an evil heart…

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. -Hebrews 3:12

What does a person with an evil heart or an evil life look like? The answer should shake you to your core.

The word “poneros,” greek for “evil,” actually means… full of labors. The concept of evil being simply something “bad” is a secondary definition.

Being “full of labors” is the idea of living to make things happen, a kind of internal striving to produce something or to make something right or worthy out of your life. It’s the performance-driven mentality that looks to one’s efforts and abilities for a better future or the means to success. It’s the busy-with-things-to-do-and-become mindset.  It’s the heart that concludes… my identity, my worth, and my closeness with God are tied to my achievement and performance. I may never say it that way, but I am living that way.  It’s the Christian with their spiritual to-do list of tasks, rules, and rituals they secretly snort to feel like peace with God is theirs for the taking. It’s the foundation of the religious spirit that is prevalent in many a Church and Christian in our western culture today. Call it, “best practices,” “excellence,” “changing the world,” “radical Christianity,” “faithfulness,” “vision,” “discipleship,” “spiritual maturity,” or “obedience,”  but when it’s done out of spirit of “labor,” God calls it… “evil.”

God associates holiness with rest, but evil with labor. Holiness simply means “set apart.” In Genesis, God rested on the seventh day after He created.  He set that seventh day apart as being Holy because the work of creation was finished. God associates holiness with resting. By resting, I am not talking about doing nothing or having no responsibilities, rather I am speaking about  living from an internal foundation of trust and faith that believes God’s finishing work on the cross is enough for every aspect of your life. It’s a state of emotional and spiritual rests that relies on God’s work, favor, and provision well above our own. It is God’s labor that becomes the focus, not ours.  To rest is to believe.

In fact, the only labor we are to have as Christians is to work hard at resting in faith…

Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. –Hebrews 4:11

So many of us as Christians are full of labors. We say we believe, yet we worry. We say we trust, yet we strive and try to move things forward ourselves. We talk about forgiveness and being forgiven, yet we live in fear, guilt and shame as we live to do more good than bad and somehow right our wrongs.  We speak of grace, yet we mix it with plenty of rules, regulations, rituals, conditions, and obligations. We proclaim the work of God in the past and in the present, but we rely on our own efforts nonetheless. We are full of labors, not rest. Goals not gratitudes.  Striving and trying, not trusting. Performing, achieving, and worrying, not believing. This is why in Hebrews 3 (above) an “evil heart” is connected with “unbelief.”

Consider Job in the Bible. In chapter 3 he says this…

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.  I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” -Job 3:25-26

Fear is built out of unrest. And where theres in unrest, turmoil is just around the corner. But where did this stressful existence of turmoil come from for Job?  How did he steer his life into this ditch of unrest?

Look at Job chapter 1.

When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. -Job 1:5

In this passage, Job is laboring day in and day out to do something spiritual in hopes of protecting his children from an imagined reality with God that he fears. Can you believe it? It was something spiritual that began his downward spiral into a state of turmoil and further unrest. He feared for his children, and decided to labor his way through it as He attempted to take control of the situation and make things right, instead of believing and trusting.

Ironically, as Christians, it is often spiritual things that we are performing that bring us into a further state of unrest and stress.  Why, because they are not being done out of faith, but out of a foundation of fear and insecurity. They are not flowing from Grace, but in order to be worthy of it. We use spiritual forms of performance to take from God and seemingly make God do what we hope and desire. Yet, the truth is, we don’t take from God, we can only receive. We don’t make God do something for us, He has already accomplished and provided everything for us on the cross. All the healing, provision, security, prosperity, forgiveness, favor, and blessings were purchased and accomplished for you on the cross, paid for by the blood of Jesus! We can only receive it through an internal faith-posture of rest.

Just look around at how many over scheduled, burnt out, stressed, worrying, performance driven, guilt-ridden, judgmental, religiously spirited Christians there are. Are you one of them?  What is the foundation of your bible study, prayer, serving, or church attendance? Is it flowing from Grace, or to get to Grace? Big difference. Are you like Job, laboring to protect yourself from some reality with God that you fear. Maybe He will remove His grace, kindness, blessing, provision, or favor from my life. Maybe His forgiveness will run dry. Maybe He will punish me or condemn me as His patience finally runs out. Maybe He is keeping that bad thing I did in mind and if I push things to far, He will make me pay. Maybe I need to make up for my mistakes and proof to God and myself that I am lovable and valuable. Maybe He takes care of some things, but not others.

For Job, something so spiritual looking was actually so ladened with evil. Is that true about your Christian life. Does it look very spiritual on the outside, but in fact is evil in heart on the inside?

To have faith is to rest.

The holiest, most spiritual thing you can ever do is to rest in faith. Your greatest responsibility is to rest in faith, believing the work of God in and through your life has already been accomplished on the cross, you need only believe to make it a reality in the here and now.

Look at the areas of your life where you do not worry, God’s blessings and provisions flow. The areas where you worry is where you are in lack. Look at the areas of your laboring in life, there also you will find stress and ineffectiveness.  Yet look at the areas where you are acting from the promptings and favor of God, your ease and effectiveness at doing these things are much higher.

Move away from a laboring Christian life and into a life of rest in His Grace knowing that everything you need and desire to become are finished works on the cross, ready to be poured into your life through your faith, not your laboring.

Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. –Hebrews 4:11

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