Evil Suspicions and the Gospel (1 Tim 6:3-5)
“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1Tim 6:3-5 ESV)
Many of us have chosen the pleasure of evil suspicions above the pleasure of knowing Christ. An evil suspicion is when we believe something wicked about someone else based on speculation rather than evidence. To believe the worst in someone—to assume they are against you, to assume they have committed some perverse act, to assume they are acting out of evil motives, etc.—without evidence produces a prideful pleasure and idolatrous security in our hearts. The pleasure we experience in this sin comes from believing that we have a superior knowledge or awareness of a situation—which others are blind to—and that our assessment of what is happening is more righteous than the person engaging in the act. The pleasure is in the pride. The security we receive comes from trusting in our assessment of the situation above resting in and submitting to God; this is idolatry. Our pursuit of evil suspicions is folly and rebellion against our Creator, who calls us to take our neighbor’s words at face value—love “believes all things” (1 Cor 13:7)—and commands us to reject hypocritical self-righteous judgments (Matt 7:1-5).
[Note: I’m not saying that we should not be discerning (Matt 7:6). To be undiscerning is to make the opposite error of evil suspicions. In this post I’m simply arguing that sometimes in the name of “discernment,” we fall into evil suspicions.]
What can we do about evil suspicions? Our only hope is the gospel. While it is true that our evil suspicions are rebellion against God, it is also true that God has punished Jesus for our rebellious ways. Jesus took the penalty for our self-righteous judgments, pride, and idolatry, even though he himself was absolutely sinless. Jesus knew what was in humanity’s heart–all of our evil and hatred of God–and he laid down his life for us! We assumed the worst in the one who never sinned; he knew all our evil and still died in our place (Rom 5:8). This is amazing love! Our response to this gospel truth should be repentance and belief: we repent of evil suspicions (turning away from them) and we place our faith in Jesus, our only hope of deliverance. Now our hope, security and joy are in God, not evil suspicions.
Let us repent of evil suspicions, recognizing their folly and rebellious nature to the glory of God.
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