The spirit of envy is a spirit that wants to rob you of your joy. Its roots stretch back to the garden and was passed down through the generations. In the book of Genesis, we find the first of many glimpses into how the spirit of envy operates. It is an evil spirit that can cause immeasurable damage to your mind, will, emotions, and relationships.
A Warning about the Spirit of Envy
“And in the process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, ‘… If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’”—Genesis 4:3-7
Even after this warning from God, Cain succumbed to the spirit of envy and murdered his brother. This act ultimately led to the consequences of exile. It drove him away from his family and land.
How to Recognize the Spirit of Envy
The Bible gives us story after story about the drastic consequences of jealousy and deceit. From Jacob and Esau to David and Bathsheba there is much to be learned about the spirit of envy and how to overcome it.
The undeniable truth is that the spirit of envy is a very real tactic of the enemy. When left unattended, it can have catastrophic consequences.
The spirit of envy’s desire is to consume your thoughts and corrupt your actions. It is in this transition from thought to action that this sin will take root.
Has the Spirit of Envy Grown Roots in Your Life?
A way to determine if the spirit of envy has grown roots in your life is by the process of self-examination (see Romans 12:3).
- Do you compare your life to others?
Jesus reminds Peter of the importance of not getting distracted with thoughts of comparison.
- “This He spoke, signifying by what death he [Peter] would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ … Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man [John]?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’”—John 21:19-22 (emphasis added)
Jesus is very clear that Peter’s concern with John’s future is not to be his focus. Just as there was a path for both Peter and John, God has anointed you for a purpose. Comparison with others will only distract you from fulfilling your God-given destiny.
Although comparison can be hard to recognize and even harder to admit, it is an important step in setting yourself free from the spirit of envy.
Take inventory of your thoughts. Ask the Spirit to lead you through an honest assessment of whether you are allowing the spirit of envy to change your attitudes and behaviors toward yourself, others, or God.
- Do I celebrate others’ successes?
- Do I feel inadequate when others succeed?
- Do I feel that I deserve more than what I have?
- Do I trust God with everything or just some things?
Whether it be comparing looks, achievements, or belongings, it is the open gate that envy enters through. Once envy is rooted, it can quickly spread to other areas of your life.
- “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”—James 3:16
The strong wording in this scripture cannot be ignored. Instead, it can serve as a reminder to those who will listen about the slippery slope that the spirit of envy can cause.
What does the Bible teach us about overcoming the spirit of envy?
Three Practical Steps to Overcome the Spirit of Envy
If you are one of the many who have fallen victim to the spirit of envy, rest assured that you are not alone.
Although David is commonly referred to as a man after God’s own heart, he too succumbed to the spirit of envy. David, a humble boy who took down a giant and became king, became envious. The spirit of envy tempted David into sexual sin and murder.
However, through David’s repentance, God forgave Him and redeemed the situation. Did this mean David had no consequences to his actions? No, it means that through repentance, the spirit of envy can be cut off from its assignment in your life. David’s story reveals a God- given roadmap that leads to triumph.
Three Steps to Overcome the Spirit of Envy…
Step 1: Acknowledge the Spirt of Envy
To begin healing, acknowledge that this evil spirit has taken root. It is only in a place of humble recognition that you can petition God for change.
Remember this word from Psalm 51…
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…”
—Psalm 51:2-4 (emphasis added)
God knows your heart. Therefore, admitting your susceptibility to the spirit of envy is not exposing something to God that He doesn’t already know. But it does expose the lies of the enemy so they can be cut off at the root.
Confession creates a position of humility and trust which allows your heart to be open to change.
Step 2: Pray a Prayer of Repentance
Ask God for His power to overcome the temptation to covet the circumstances or possessions of others by praying a prayer such as…
“Father God, I admit that I have believed the lies from the spirit of envy. I realize that when I allow envious thoughts to take root that I am cutting myself off from the promises and blessings that you have in store for me. I praise you that I can overcome this roadblock by the blood of Yeshua. Because of the covenant relationship I have through Him, I can be victorious. Today, I boldly proclaim freedom over the spirit of envy. Its assignment is canceled from my life. I seal this in Yeshua’s name, Amen.”
Remember this word from Psalm 51…
“Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
—Psalm 51:11-12 (emphasis added)
Prayer is powerful! It is the fastest way to connect with your Creator. David never stopped praying for God to intervene on his behalf, let us learn from that.
Step 3: Obey God’s Word
Finally, seek and align with God’s anointing for your life. If you want to successfully break the chains of envy you must be willing to hear and obey God’s instruction given in the Word.
Remember this word from Psalm 34…
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
God’s desire for you is that you walk in obedience because it positions you to align with His will. In short, obedience is what is required for you to follow Him, just as Jesus instructed Peter to do.
Let’s face it, human beings are all vulnerable to the temptation of comparison and succumbing to the spirit of envy. Having envious thoughts will not change your circumstances for the better, but they will distract you from seeing your circumstances clearly.
You can declare victory over the spirit of envy by following the example of David and aligning with God’s Word to walk in your destiny and inheritance.