As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.
I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist.
We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.
The Bible tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing. It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection.
However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so. These things are not true of the evil heart.
Here are five indicators you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart;
- Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention. They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information.
(Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2)
- Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words. But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
(Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4; 59:7; 101:7)
- Evil hearts crave and demand control, their highest authority is their own self-reference. They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance.
(Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22)
- Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card. They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust.
(Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).
- Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse. They do not struggle against sin or evil — they delight in it — all the while masquerading as someone of noble character.
(Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29).
Relating with such people requires a radically different approach. You need “spirit of discernment”.