I can’t believe that August is almost over and we have survived our first Arizona summer. It’s been over 100 degrees for more days than not, but it feels different when it isn’t as humid. It’s like walking into an oven, but not a sauna. Hot, but not sweaty. August has also been birthday month. My son and daughter both have August birthdays, as do I. It has been at least ten years since we all celebrated birthdays together. My granddaughters are very excited to be at so many parties. The good news is that it’s been great to be together. The bad news is that I’m eating way too much cake.
Thank you again for all your prayers. This is important work and I sense more openness but also more spiritual darkness hovering over me and my ministry like never before. Please continue your prayers that God’s light will shine through.
Last week I posted a link to an older blog post, Five Indicators of an Evil Heart. One of our blog readers got scared. Here is her question:
Question: I just read your 2015 post on the Five Indicators of an Evil Heart. It's eerie how it's possible to find myself in some of these points. While I try not to, I know I avoid responsibility, withhold information, sometimes reject feedback and accountability, don't want to give mercy and sometimes have no idea I've caused pain, and even sometimes (in my thoughts) entertain evil for evil.
Does that mean I too have an evil heart and not just my ex? It's a definite pause for thought…
I’m freaked at the possible reality.
Answer: Your question reminds me of a woman who approached me during one of my live seminars a few years back. She was highly distraught that she might be a narcissist. When I asked her what made her think she was a narcissist, she said, “I’m selfish, I don’t want to always babysit my grandkids when my daughter asks and I like to have some time to myself.”
Fearful, she believed she might be beyond hope – since most Internet articles she read indicated narcissists don’t change.
But as far as I could tell in our short discussion she wasn’t a narcissist. Narcissists never worry that they might be too selfish nor do they feel guilty or conflicted about wanting time for their own selves. Neurotics do. Her anxiety over her selfishness was a telling sign that she was not narcissistic.
In a similar vein, even though you identify with some elements of the five signs of an evil heart, I don’t think you have one.
Those who have evil hearts never self-identify as such or self-reflect on their motives or actions. Instead, they usually disguise themselves as angels of light or like good people. That’s why those with evil hearts are so hard to detect. Click To Tweet
It’s true that when we get honest with ourselves, we might all recognize personal struggles with some of the five signs I stated in the original article, Five Indicators of an Evil Heart. However, the following are some key differences between an ordinary sinner and someone with an evil heart:
A person with an evil heart has:
- An absence of guilt or shame over what he or she has done. He might display some emotion if he is caught red handed, but it’s an act. His goal is to reestablish control and maintain his image as an acceptable/ virtuous person. He knows the right things to say or do for damage control but he won’t actually do them for any sustained period of time.
- A blatant disregard for the truth. There is no higher authority than his or her own self-reference. Satan knows more truth about God than you or I would ever know, but he does not submit himself to it. The evil heart is his or her own god.
- An attitude of entitlement and superiority. She is right, she is better or knows better than anyone else.
- No regard for other people’s feelings, needs, or hurts. Other people don’t matter unless they directly serve a purpose. People are seen as pawns, property, and peons to be used, manipulated, and controlled for one’s own purposes.
- A stubborn refusal to submit to a collective conscious–in other words, the “Rules of society” don't apply to a person with an evil heart. He or she is special. He refuses to yield yet still expects all the perks of a normal life.
- A desire to win, to control, and to dominate others. When another person resists, that person will be punished. Speaking honestly to an evil heart does not produce any self-reflection or any change. A person with an evil heart responds to confrontation or resistance by punishing, escalating control, or getting more clever in his or her disguise in order to manipulate and win.
In contrast, King David is a good example for us to look at because although he did evil things, he did not have an evil heart. David was guilty of many sins including sexual abuse and murder (2 Samuel 11). And, for a season he seemed blind to all he had done.
Yet God describes him as a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). How can this be when he committed such horrible sins and hurt people?
We see that David was teachable and open to correction. He listened to Nathan the prophet when Nathan told him a story about someone who took something that did not belong to him. When David became outraged, Nathan told him, “You are the man!”(2 Samuel 12). When David saw his sin, he didn’t kill the messenger, as someone with an evil heart would want to do. Rather, he felt shame and brokenhearted at what he had done. Read Psalm 51 to get a sense of what David’s repentance looked like. David sought God’s forgiveness and he also willingly yielded to God’s consequences for his sin.
Yes, we are all capable of sins, even horrible ones. But most of us do not feel good about them but rather guilty and ashamed. In contrast, people with an evil heart are proud of their sin and delight in their evil ways (see for example Proverbs 2:14; or 2 Thessalonians 2:12).
Obviously, the pangs of your own conscience were stirred reading the original article. That may give you some indications that you have some things to look at and self-correct, but the fact that you felt those pricks of the Holy Spirit and asked for feedback indicates that you are open to correction from God and others and not a person with an evil heart.
Friend, Hebrews 5:14 tells us “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” How have you trained yourself to discern the difference?