James 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
That word “bitter,” which appears in verses 11 and 14 are the only times this Greek word is found in the Scriptures. It means “sharp (pungent).” Then the Greek word, here translated “envying” is else where translated, “zeal” in Philippians 3:6; “jealously” in 2 Corinthians 11:2; and “with indignation” in Acts 5:17. Therefore, being “sharp jealously, with indignation,” we can readily see “where envying is … there is every evil work.”
So what is the source of envy? Where does it come from? It comes with that which is produced by the natural birth. It is a part of the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is part of the human spirit! James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
And it is developed and greatly extended by a wrongful relating to the true spirit of the gospel! By its wrongful interpretation and lack of spiritual perception of the scriptures, Harlot religion is extending this human trait, plunging its roots deep into the souls of its participants. 1 Timothy 6:2B These things teach and exhort. 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
It is only by the coming of the Lord Jesus into the heart by regenerating grace that envy can be properly dealt with. Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Also consider these passages: Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.
The believer is even farther instructed to trust in his Lord, and to obedience as preventative agents of envy. Psalms 37:1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
One noted believer – Asaph, the cymbal playing Levite – had a strong problem with envy. He was so overcome by envy that he wrote a psalm concerning it. Here is but a portion: Psalm 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Then he testifies that only the Lord God could have delivered him from this encroaching malady! Psalm 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
Yet he confesses that before the Lord delivered him, he became as a beast under the control of this evil sin. Psalm 73:22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. And the Apostle Peter states that all those who do not receive recovering grace from the Lord, become as beasts! 2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
And this is exactly what the Lord does in the recovery of some, leaving others to this fate! Ecclesiastes 3:17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
And that is what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar when his heart was lifted up in pride. Daniel 4:16 Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. 34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
Let us consider some of the disastrous results of envy recorded in the scriptures.
It caused the Philistines to stop up Isaac’s wells and request him to depart from that part of the country. Genesis 26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 15 For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.
It greatly disturbed Isaac’s peaceful marriage to his beautiful Rachel. Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
It caused the first murder in the very first family on earth, although the word “envy” is not mentioned. Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
For James writes that envy is “devilish.” James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. And John informs us that Cain was of “that wicked one.” 1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
Because of envy Joseph’s brothers at first plotted to murder him, but later sold him into slavery. Genesis 37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. 20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. Acts 7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
Esau planned to murder his brother Jacob as he envied him his birthright. Genesis 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
Miriam was smitten with leprosy when she and brother Aaron envied Moses! Numbers 12:2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. 15 And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.
Nathan and Abiram envied Moses. Psalm 106:16 They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD. 17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. 18 And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.
King Saul greatly envied David, which caused him to attempt his murder. 1Sam. 18:8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? 9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. 11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
The Jews persisted in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus due to envy. Matthew 27:17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
The Jews also persecuted Paul for envy! Acts 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Acts 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
Some proclaimed themselves to be apostles when the Apostle Paul was cast into prison, just to spite him! Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But it did the opposite! It made Paul rejoice! Philippians 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Envy is a part of the reprobate mind! Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
And remember our verse in James 3:16 – For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. For just as the love of money is “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), so where envy and strife are coupled together, there is “every evil work!” Just think of these instances throughout biblical history where envy has brought hatred so severe, even against one’s own blood kin, that murder has been committed!
And remember also that the only remedy against such a horribly controlling evil is the reverential fear and honor of the Lord God! Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
Pastor Gene Breed
March 29, 2018