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"The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:12-14).

Envy: A feeling of discontent and ill will because of another's advantages, possessions or success.

It's an experience we've all had at one time or another. It is so common, in fact, most people think it is no big deal. They see it as just a harmless, human emotion. But they are gravely mistaken.

As innocent as it may sometimes seem, envy is actually the devil's own poison, designed to turn love into hate and immobilize the force of faith in your life. If you want to see how deadly envy can be, just take a look through the Scriptures. Find out where it comes from and - more alarming than that - where it is headed. Once you do, you'll want to rid yourself of it once and for all.

"Well, Gloria, that shouldn't be too difficult for me," you may say, "I don't really think I'm envious of anyone." That may be true. But let me encourage you to search your heart carefully just to be sure, because many times we aren't even conscious of envy. We may feel it stirring within us, but we fail to identify it because we assume such feelings are "only natural."

Actually, "natural" is precisely what envy is. It's part of what the Bible calls the "natural" or "carnal" mind." It's a mind programmed by the devil to be in direct opposition to God. Another biblical term for it is "the flesh." Envy is listed as "works of the flesh" in Galatians 5, and it's put alongside some other very serious sins including: "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such" (vv. 19-21).

That's not exactly a pretty list, is it? Most believers would never purposely engage in any of those fleshly activities. How then does envy get into our lives? It sneaks in without announcing itself. It slips in unnoticed. Suppose you go to church, for instance, and you see Brother Smith with a new car. Suddenly a thought comes to your mind: "Why does he have a new car? He didn't even need it. I'm the one who needs a new car." Or suppose you see Sister Jones in a beautiful new dress. As you sit down next to her, you notice how dowdy your dress is compared to hers. Suddenly you feel like someone's ugly stepsister.

You may not think much more about it - consciously. But later, you notice you're a little irritated or depressed. You can't quite put your finger on why you feel that way. After all, you were having a good day until a little while ago. What happened? I'll tell you what happened. Envy crept in and poisoned you with a feeling of ill will and discontent because of another's success or advantages. Envy made a move on you.

Pulling the Plug on Your Faith
Notice I said it made a move on you, not in you. That's an important distinction. You see, if you're a born-again believer, envy is not a part of your spiritual nature. It's something the devil tries to pressure you into receiving. He dangles it in front of you like bait on a hook, hoping you'll take a bite. Why? Because he wants to defeat you! He wants to keep you sick, broke, sad, and perpetually trapped beneath your circumstances. And to do that, he must somehow stop you from living by faith.

Since he can't very well just come barreling in the front door and steal the faith right out of your heart, he slips in the back way. He uses envy and strife to interrupt the flow of love in your life. The minute love is disrupted, your faith stops working too, because faith works by love (Gal. 5:6).

Many Christians don't understand that principle, so they struggle along, quarreling and fussing with one another - and all the while wonder why their faith isn't producing results. They don't realize that if you want to walk in the power and blessing of God, you cannot allow envy or strife into your life. Period. James 3:16 shows us why that's true. It says, "Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." In other words, envy and strife give the devil an open door into your life.

What kinds of "evil work" will the devil bring through that open door? Everything from depression to murder. Yes, murder! That was envy's first recorded act. It was responsible for the first human bloodshed. You can read about it in Genesis 4. There, the Bible tells us: "In course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Able brought of the first-born of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering. But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, and you must master it" (vv. 3-7, AMP). What was Cain feeling? He was feeling envy because his brother had the Lord's approval and he didn't.

Now, notice the Lord didn't say, "Oh, Cain, don't worry about that. After all, those feelings are only natural. You're just experiencing a little sibling rivalry." No, He said, "Cain, sin is crouching at your door."

We all need to heed those words. We need to realize that envy is sin. It's the opposite of love. It is of the devil and if we let it stay in our lives, very soon we'll be yielding to the evil spirit that governs it. That's what Cain did, and as a result he "rose up against Abel his brother, and killed him" (v. 8 AMP).

That wasn't an isolated incident either. You can follow the deadly tracks of envy all the way through the Bible. Psalm 106, for example, says, "Dathan envied Moses and Aaron." You know what happened to him, don't you? He was swallowed up by the earth. Envy sparked Jacob's sons to sell Joseph into slavery just to get rid of him. But instead of getting better, their lives grew worse. Finally, they had to go to another country to get enough food to keep their families from starving to death.

In the New Testament, the Pharisees' attitude toward Jesus was poisoned by envy. Ultimately, we know it drove them to kill Him, for Matthew 27:18 says, "It was because of envy that they had handed Him over to Pilate" (AMP). From Genesis to Revelation, you can see envy doing its sinister work, trying to stop the plan of God.

Even When You're Right - You're Wrong
No wonder the Apostle John warns us so strongly against it, saying: "This is the message, which you have heard from the first, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who took his nature and got his motivation from the evil one and slew his brother. He who does not love abides - remains - is held and kept continually - in (spiritual) death. Any one who hates his brother (in Christ) is (at heart) a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding and persevering within him" (1 John 3:11-12, 14-15, AMP).

Clearly, envy is serious business. We need to rid ourselves of it completely and start loving each other. We need to stop striving with each other and "lay our lives down for those who are our brothers in Him" (v. 16). That's what real love is, you know - laying down your life for someone else. And in a very real sense, you are laying down your life when you refuse to envy, because envy tries to get you to fight for your own rights. It pushes you to look out for your own welfare and to be hostile because someone else is more successful in life than you are.

Ironically, however, what envy actually does is stop your success. It keeps you from rising to the level of those you are envying. Why? Because, as I said before, it stops your faith. It takes you outside the realm of love, and 1 Corinthians 13:8 says love never fails. Therefore, envy becomes a trap that secures your failure!

The truth is, all strife works that way - whether it's caused by envy or by something else. All strife is sin! That means even when you are on the "right" side of an argument, if you're in strife, you're wrong. When you're offended and angry with your husband or wife, your children or anyone else, you're wrong. You've opened the door to the devil and you'd better do something quickly. What should you do? Shut the door! Stubbornly resist those fleshly pressures and temptations of the devil. Treat strife just as you'd treat a rattlesnake or any other deadly invader. Refuse to let it in!

If you're a preacher of the gospel, for instance, and there's a new pastor in town who is getting more results than you are, don't be naive enough to fall into the trap that envy is setting. Trick the devil! Turn the tables on him! Start praising God for the success of the new pastor. Do what you can to help him. In other words, start walking in love and laying down selfishness. If you'll do that, you'll keep the door open for the blessings of God.

You Can Do It!
That's important because in this dangerous day, we need God's blessings more than ever. We need His power. We need to be walking in our full inheritance as believers because this age is about to be brought to a close. As the Apostle Paul says: "The night is far gone and the day is almost here. Let us then drop (fling away) the works and deeds of darkness and put on the full armor of light. Let us live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly as in the open light of day; not in reveling (carousing) and drunkenness, not in immorality and debauchery, not in quarreling and jealousy. But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and make no provision for indulging the flesh" (Rom. 13:12-14, AMP).

The hour is late! It's time for us to wake up. It's time we quit allowing the devil to darken our homes, our businesses, our churches and our individual lives with strife and envy. It's time we quit letting him pull the plug on our faith power. It's time we started living in the light.

You may be thinking, "That's easier said than done!" I know. But you can do it.

How? Learn to watch over yourself. Pay attention to your state of mind. When you find yourself depressed or downcast, don't just ignore those feelings. Think back. Ask yourself, "What started this downturn?"

You may realize that a particular situation sparked feelings of aggravation, jealousy or strife within you. If so, look at that situation through the eyes of God and then talk to it (see Mark 11:23). Say, "That situation has no power over me. I refuse to allow it to bring envy and strife into my life. I yield to the forces of love and joy within me. And, Lord, I praise You for Brother Smith's new car. I thank You that Sister Jones has those nice clothes!" Then just start praising the Lord. Sing a song. Put on a tape that will lift you up, and force yourself to sing along. Before long, the love of God will be bubbling up out of your heart again and you'll be singing in genuine joy.

I know you will, because I've done it! That's right. These are not just good ideas I'm giving you. They are principles from the Word of God that Ken and I have lived by for more than thirty years now. They are principles that have literally changed our lives.

They'll change your life, too. In fact, I believe any husband and wife who will live the life of love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 can have a wonderful life together. Even if they start off at zero with no love between them at all, they can end up with a successful marriage because love never fails!

"But, Gloria," you ask, "if love never fails, why do so many Christian marriages - marriages that were once based on the love of God - end up on the rocks?" . It happens because strife and envy are allowed to cut that love short. As a result, those Christian lives and marriages are drained of God's power. They become carnal, and there is confusion and every evil work.

1 Corinthians 3:3 puts it this way: "For as long as there are envying and jealousy among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves... like mere (unchanged) men?" (AMP).

The moment we let envy and strife in the door, we begin to live like people out there in the world. We become like the natural, unsaved men in this scripture - fearful, powerless and defeated - instead of like supernatural, born-again, Spirit-filled people of God.

I agree with Paul. The hour is too late for us to live like that. The coming of Jesus is near at hand. And when He comes, we don't want Him to find us spiritually sick and weak, living lives that have been poisoned by envy and strife. We want Him to find us standing tall in the spirit - full of love, faith and power - walking in the victory Jesus bought for us. We want Him to find us living in the light!

Excerpt permission granted by
Eagle Mountain International Church, Inc.
aka:  Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Author Biography

Gloria Copeland
Web site: Kenneth Copeland Ministries
For the last 50 years Kenneth and Gloria Copeland have been passionately teaching Christians all over the world how to apply the principles of faith found in God's WORD to their lives.

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