In our intro article entitled “Fellowship” I laid the ground work that Christian fellowship that the Bible describes is a kind that “expresses an intimate partnership or relationship by which individuals share a common union and experience a sense of community.” Once again, the word used is koinōnia (κοινωνία). Unfortunately, sin in many ways disrupts that fellowship. One of those sins is a word that the Greek New Testament uses to describe as the antnoym of fellowship – kakia (κακία). As much as everyone would love to strive for perfect fellowship, we should never be naive to think that this will happen 100 percent of the time, and malice (kakia) will be standing at the door making sure that doesn’t happen.
When we think of malice, all we need to think about is a person who quite literally has an “evil disposition.” What that means is that whoever is “malicious” (as we have often heard in its usage) they are intending evil or have the propensity to do evil, say evil, or think evil, and will inflict that evil verbally or in some other way, whether provoked or not. Now that is a mouth full! Hopefully, you can see how this kind of disposition, attitude, or behavior can injuriously disrupt biblical fellowship, and the Bible commands us in many ways to repent of this vicious sin of malice.
Firstly, it is important to point out that maliciousness is characteristic of those that are not born again. Romans 1:29 gives us the multiple descriptions of those whom God gave over to a reprobate mind and those who refuse God in their knowledge. One of those word pictures was maliciousness. Also, Titus 3:3 reveals to us that we were “also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” Indeed, when I was still dead in my sin, it was no problem for me to display such behaviors. And it isn’t until the love of God intervened (transforming the heart) that this kind of disposition changes.
Secondly, we must grasp that malice is something that can creep up within our fellowship, and in moment, destroy that union. Scripture reminds us in several passages that, among others, malice is it to be “put off” or “laid aside.” In Ephesians 4:31 it says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” James 1:21, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness (kakia), and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” And finally, though not exhaustively, 1 Peter 2:1 states, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking…” (All scriptures taken from NKJV).
If we pause to meditate on a golden nugget that is lodged in all these passages, we would notice that all four passages stated above has speech integrated within the context of malice. Whether stated explicitly in the passage, or somewhere in the context, you will notice that speech, in some sort of way, is connected to the demonstration of malice. When dealing with biblical, Christian fellowship and experiencing it, one thing I have seen destroy this fellowship more than sexual immorality (1 Cor. 5:8) is that little member of our bodies that can start great fires – the tongue. The way we speak to one another is crucial, I repeat, crucial to the development and maintenance of koinōnia fellowship. If someone has an evil disposition and an inclination to evil, it will flow from the heart through the tongue and will fly like Molotov cocktails. If we wish to have lasting, fruitful, and biblical koinōnia fellowship, we must tame the tongue or be forced
to watch all its victims burn.
Lastly, although kakia can destroy, interrupt, or drive a wedge between people, if we remember that koinōnia is based off the gospel, and that we can forgive one another because Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32), it will be the ointment to our souls and the healing to our relationships. At times, depending and on the malice that was committed toward us, we may find our hearts crying out for vengeance (Pro. 24:29), and I can tell you from personal experience that this will lead to sin. But if we meditate on the sacrifice of Christ, take the finger of justice and point it at ourselves, and remember how many times we have maliciously sinned against God, yet He still died for us, it will provide the waterfall of grace necessary to drench this violent flame of malice.
Therefore, let us watch out for malice, and be careful that no root of it is imbedded within our soul.