Posted by: Heather | February 19, 2009

knowing the true nature of my evil

I read this on John Piper’s blog. The link is in red at the bottom.

Knowing the Nature of Your Evil

February 19, 2009 | By: John Piper
Category: Commentary

It is important that we know the nature of the evil in our hearts.

Do you think the essence of your evil is disobeying commandments? That’s a good start. But it’s not the essence of our evil. Commands simply name the evil and its fruits, and tell us not to do them.

The essence of our evil is that we prefer anything to God (Romans 1:23; 2:23). Commands do not create the possibility of evil. Commands name it.

Long before we are told not to covet, we covet. Disobeying the command, “Thou shalt not covet,” is not equivalent to the evil of coveting. The evil of coveting is there first, and then is compounded by the transgression of the commandment not to covet.

Paul said, “I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7). That is, I wouldn’t have known the seriousness of my evil if God had not named it in the law.

But lawbreaking is not the essence of my evil. Desiring anything above God is the essence of my evil, before any commands name it.

One reason this is important to know is that it will affect the way you pursue change. If you think the essence of your evil is commandment-breaking, your focus for change will be commandment-keeping.

That is doomed to fail for two reasons. If we get good at it, we think we have changed, but the essence of our evil remains. If we can’t get good at it, we despair and quit trying.

But if we know that the essence of our evil is not commandment-breaking, but preferring anything to God, then our focus for change will be a change of heart. That is hopeful, because God promised, “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

This is the new covenant that Jesus purchased with his blood (Luke 22:20). We receive it by faith.



  1. I so much appreciated this. For some reason, I recently have had salvation doubts of earthquake-sized proportions because I can see a huge void in my personal spiritual growth.I feel more like a bonzai tree that has been deliberately stunted and twisted in a pot rather than an oak that has grown full and strong with deep roots.In my own heart, I feel God saying it is because I have lusted after other “gods”. Idols that appeal to my sinful, self-serving nature. And it is crushing. WHY have I bothered with all the fluff when I could more fully know the eternal and merciful Creator of everything?On the one hand, I am so thankful He is waking me up. Last night, I think it finally “clicked” what is the difference between “repentance” that indicates true salvation and the ongoing process of “sanctification” that follows. On the other hand, sometimes it hurts so bad I want to just curl up and die. God is so mercifully patient with this weak and foolish child. This morning I can honestly say my heart has been turned toward my Lord with a true desire to know HIM and Him alone.Heather

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