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What does the Bible say about envy?

It is not a sin to be tempted to envy, but if it is allowed to live and fester, it becomes destructive.
Why envy is sin

Why is envy sin? (Galatians 5:19-21)

When envy springs up and is allowed to live and grow in a person’s heart, it has horrible consequences. We can see many accounts of that in the Bible.

When Abel’s sacrifice was respected by God, and his was not, Cain killed his brother out of envy. (Genesis 4:3-8) When Korah was envious of Moses, he was swallowed up by the earth. (Numbers 16) When Saul let envy of David enter his heart the end result was that he was killed in battleAlmost all talk of battles and wars when concerning a Christian life refers to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts you. God’s Spirit and the flesh are at odds. When you have decided to only do God’s will and are being led by the Spirit, a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit arises: there is... More. (1 Samuel 18) Even Jesus was killed by the religious leaders of the day out of envy.

“A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” Proverbs 14:30.

Why is envy sin?

Envy is something that most people are familiar with. When we see that someone has something we would like to have – physical possessions, or personality traits, or ministries, or talent – then a natural human reaction is to envy them. It takes a conscious work to become free from it, so that we can be thankful for what we have been given and “rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15)

It is not a sin to be tempted to envy, but if it is allowed to live and fester, it becomes destructive. Why is envy sin? Because it divides people. It destroys relationships, sows discord, and creates a spirit of bitterness, and evil. It causes people to act and speak in toxic ways. To become envious is definitely a sin, and is defined as such in God’s Word.

“For where envy and self- seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James 3:16.

How does one overcome envy?

But being tempted to envy doesn’t have to lead to sinTo commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought. (James 1:14-15)... More! There is a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) When He lived on earth, Jesus conquered all sin. He was tempted in every way just like we are, yet without sin. As a result, He can sympathize with our weaknesses and help us when we are tempted. There is a throne of grace“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16. Because Jesus was tempted, yet did not sin, it is possible for us to come to Him with boldness to receive grace. This grace is so we too shall not commit sin in our... More we can go to boldly, so we can obtain mercy and find grace (power from the Holy Spirit) to help us overcome envy every single time we are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15-16) We can overcome like He overcame.

How do we overcome it? We have to begin by acknowledging it. It is natural for us to insist that we are not envious. But if the desire of our heart is to truly become free from all sin, then we need to humble ourselves and acknowledge the truth.

It begins with a thought. “That’s not fair.” “Who do they think they are?” “Why don’t I get the recognition? Why is it always they who are blessed?” Simple things like that which cause our soul, also known as our feelings and “reasoning” to react and overreact. Our ego is concerned. We can find it at work, at school, in our marriage and families, and with our service for God.

Paul testified that “I have been crucified with ChristJesus was physically crucified on the cross at Calvary. Though blameless, He took upon Himself the punishment for sin, which was death, so He could pay our debts and forgive us our sin if we are willing to believe in Him and follow Him the Apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20) This is a metaphorical... More. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the fleshThe “flesh” is all of the sinful desires/temptations/lusts, etc. that dwell in human nature. It is the source of temptation, and nothing good dwells there. (Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:24; Romans 8:5) Other phrases meaning the same as the flesh include: the body of sin, sinful human nature, fallen human nature, sinful nature, fallen nature The term “flesh” can... More, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. By faith, we too can reckon ourselves – our feelings, thoughts, opinions, ego, etc. – to be crucified with Christ. Then we are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:7-11) When we live according to this faith we can overcome the temptations to be envious, and grow in contentment and thankfulness instead. When we are tempted we can pray for strength to remain there on the crossWhen the cross is mentioned in the Bible, it most often does not refer to a physical wooden cross, except when specifically describing Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary. “Taking up your cross” refers to the metaphorical cross that Jesus’ speaks about in Luke 9:23. “Taking up your cross” is the act of denying the sinful thoughts that come up in you... More with Christ, and remember that it is He who lives in me now, and that I can react according to His virtues, regardless of what I feel like. Then all “confusion and every evil thing” aren’t born from my actions. Instead I am creating life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

The result of overcoming envy

Then we also get revelation about the Body of ChristThe body of Christ is made up of all of those who give their lives to serve God in order to come to the fullness of Christ. They work in the ministry that He has appointed them, which differs from person to person, for the edification of themselves and others to bring all to unity. It is made up of... More. In order to serve Christ and the members of His Body (the ChurchMany people use the word to denote the entire body of Christians, and others to describe a certain denomination or group or even the physical building that Christians gather in. The Bible makes it clear that the true church of Christ is made up of all those who deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. (Ephesians 2:19-22; Matthew... More), there can be no envy or divisions; only unity. The members of the Body cannot work against each other, otherwise the Body wouldn’t function. Paul writes so clearly about this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. If one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. There is no envy there!

(Further reading about the Body of Christ in Romans 12:3-6 and Ephesians 4)

Why is envy sin? Because it wastes our time and opportunities and steals our joy! Imagine if we grow in virtues instead! When we recognize our boundaries and see instead the works that God has for us to do, we will fit into the Body exactly as we should, not taking up more space than we have received grace from God for, and being useful members that can work together in unity and harmony. What a complete rest and peace we can come into, growing in contentment and thankfulness.

“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, in sincere love of the brethrenThe “brothers” and “sisters” are those who are a part of the church of Christ. (Matthew 23:8; Matthew 12:50; Hebrews 2:10-18)... More, love one another fervently with a pure heartHaving a pure heart means that you do not agree with any sinful or impure thoughts that come up in you, but rather you deny these thoughts and put them to death. It means that you are not affected or tainted by sin on the inside. (Psalm 51:10); Matthew 5:8; Proverbs 4:23)... More.” 1 Peter 1:22-25.

Key teachings

Explore how God’s Word challenges and empowers us to live 100% according to His will, so we no longer need to fall in sin, but can come to a life of victory.

I am crucified with Christ
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I Am Crucified With Christ

This booklet is based on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with ChristJesus was physically crucified on the cross at Calvary. Though blameless, He took upon Himself the punishment for sin, which was death, so He could pay our debts and forgive us our sin if we are willing to believe in Him and follow Him the Apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20) This is a metaphorical... More; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me …” Here Elias Aslaksen explains what this means and how the reader can have the same testimony as Paul in their own life.

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