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Evil

 

 

Today it's a difficult task to pick up a newspaper and find much news that isn't bad. We have daily incidences of murders, robberies, conspiracy, political corruption, political and ethnic terrorism and falsification just about everywhere. While we seem to have more of those than we did in decades past, it really isn't new. What is new is the increasing violence and corruption displayed in the form of children killing parents, children killing teachers, and children killing other children. Hardly a month now seems to go by without a report of children killing each other in school shootings or siblings ganging up to kill their parents, or unhappy students attempting to poison teachers.

 

Why is there such a rise in youth violence and murders over the past few years? You might say, "When I was young, we never did that." You might jokingly add, "We only thought about it from time to time." Well, that's true. Twenty or thirty or fifty years ago, there was a greater amount of self-restraint in society. Sure, people would get angry or lose their tempers but most individuals had enough self-restraint and inner convictions to be able to control their actions. Why is there such a difference in the last few years? Why do people, and children, so easily lose control, lose their inhibitions, and give in to their rash impulses?

 

The subject of evil is huge and includes both physical evil as well as spiritual evil. Today, however, I would like to focus on spiritual evil in the world, as well as how we are to face evil within the church.

 

 

The Definitions of Evil

 

In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words that are used most often and translated "evil." They are closely related and are "ra" and "ra Ďa."

 

Ra is Strongís number 7451. It is defined as, simply, bad or evil

 

Ra Ďa is Strongís number 7489. It is defined as to spoilÖ or figuratively, to make good for nothing, that is, bad.

 

In the New Testament, there are several Greek words translated "evil" but three are used most often. They are "poneros," "kakos," and "sapros."

 

Poneros is Strongís number 4190. It is defined as hurtful, that is, evil.

 

Kakos is Strongís number 2556. It is defined as depraved, injurious, or worthless... Kakos refers rather to essential character.

 

Sapros is Strongís number 4550. It is defined as rotten, that is, worthless (literaly or morally). It indicates degeneracy from original virtue.

 

 

The Tree of Good and Evil

 

The first place in scripture we encounter the word and the concept of evil is in Genesis 2:9 at the beginning of the Bible. In the Garden of Eden, there was a tree different than all other trees in the garden.

(Gen 2:9 NASB) And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In verse 17, the first humans were given instructions regarding potential use of that special tree.

(Gen 2:16-17 NASB) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; {17} but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."

In chapter three and verse four, we find the serpent enticing the woman, Eve. The serpent, which was really Satan, tempted Eve by addressing the intellect as well as the ego.

(Gen 3:4-6 NASB) And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! {5} "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." {6} When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

So Satan, the serpent, presented evil as the alternative to good. He appealed to the womanís intellect and ego by stating that such an action would elevate her in status to a position equivalent with God. It would enhance her power to Godís same level where she could decide right from wrong independent of her Creator. Eveís move was the beginning of manís rejection of Godís standards of good and evil in favor of manís self-determination of good and evil.

 

 

Mankind's Standards of Good and Evil

 

Historically, there are numerous examples in scripture of manís quest for his own determination of good and evil. In Genesis 6:5, we read of the evil that had grown to fill the world of the generations after Adam down to the time of Noah.

(Gen 6:5 NASB) Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

In fact, in the next verse, the evil had become so bad that God commented on his own disgust at even having made man at all.

(Gen 6:6-7 NASB) And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. {7} And the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them."

After the destruction of the pre-flood world, in Genesis 8:20, God commented to Noah about the very nature of mankind.

(Gen 8:20-22 NASB) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. {21} And the LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. {22} "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

It was not long after the time of Noah that some of his descendants, once again, rebelled against the standards of God. In Genesis 11:4, we can read of their bent toward evil in conspiring against the government of God ruling over them.

(Gen 11:4-9 NASB) And they said, "Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." {5} And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. {6} And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. {7} "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." {8} So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. {9} Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

Throughout the rest of Genesis and Exodus, itís plain to see how the many nations of the world forsook Godís rule over them in a quest to determine their own standards of righteousness. God did choose, out of all the nations and families of the earth, the family of Abraham and his descendants to make into a nation that would voluntarily forsake their own determination of right and wrong and agree to live according to Godís standards of good and evil, right and wrong. God made his laws and statutes known first to Abraham and then repeatedly to his descendants, Isaac, Jacob and the children of Israel.

 

The adherence to Godís standards by the children of Israel was not long lived, however, as we can read in the last verse in the book of Judges. Just a few generations after Joshuaís establishment of the nation of Israel in the Promised Land, most of the nation God had chosen had drifted away from him in the pursuit of their own standards of good and evil.

(Judg 21:25 NASB) In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

In Isaiah 1:16, during the reign of Uzziah, one of the more righteous kings of Judah, Isaiah pleaded with the children of Israel, on Godís behalf, to forsake their own standards of good and evil and adopt again Godís standards of righteousness.

(Isa 1:16-20 NASB) "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, {17} Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. {18} "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. {19} "If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; {20} "But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword." Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

For the most part, even the pleadings of Isaiah fell upon deaf ears. The people of Israel continued their downward slide into greater and greater rebellion against Godís righteous rule. Eventually, God carried through on his warnings and first, the ten-tribe northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered and deported by the Assyrians, followed a few generations later by the captivity and deportation of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians.

 

After the return of a few of the Jews from the seventy year long Babylonian captivity, Nehemiah reminded the refugees, in Nehemiah 9:24, of the history of their forefathers and the disobedient actions that led to their forfeiture of Godís protection.

(Neh 9:24-31 NASB) "So their sons entered and possessed the land. And Thou didst subdue before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, And Thou didst give them into their hand, with their kings, and the peoples of the land, To do with them as they desired. {25} "And they captured fortified cities and a fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing, Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, Fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled, and grew fat, And reveled in Thy great goodness. {26} "But they became disobedient and rebelled against Thee, And cast Thy law behind their backs And killed Thy prophets who had admonished them So that they might return to Thee, And they committed great blasphemies. {27} "Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to Thee in the time of their distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. {28} "But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before Thee; Therefore Thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to Thee, Thou didst hear from heaven, And many times Thou didst rescue them according to Thy compassion, {29} And admonished them in order to turn them back to Thy law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Thy commandments but sinned against Thine ordinances, By which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. {30} "However, Thou didst bear with them for many years, And admonished them by Thy Spirit through Thy prophets, Yet they would not give ear. Therefore Thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. {31} "Nevertheless, in Thy great compassion Thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them, For Thou art a gracious and compassionate God.

At the traditional close of most versions of the Old Testament in Malachi 2:17, God again addressed Israelís and mankindís warped perspective of good and evil. They didnít know the difference between right and wrong. It was as basic as the difference between up and down. They thought evil was good and good was evil.

(Mal 2:17 NASB) You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, "How have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, "Where is the God of justice?"

In the New Testament, in Matthew 12:34, Jesus Christ was speaking to the Pharisees. He went even further in addressing the evil that is in men who voluntarily cut themselves off from God by the search for their own standards of good and evil. This time, weíll read from the Modern Literal Version by G. Allen Walker (copyright 1999).

(Mat 12:34-37 MLV) You* offspring of vipers, how are you*, being evil, able to speak good things? For* out of the abundance of the heart the mouth is speaking. 12:35 The good man out of his good treasure is putting forth good things and the evil man out of his evil treasure is putting forth evil things. 12:36 And I say to you* that every idle word whatever men may speak, they will give an account concerning it in the day of judgment. 12:37 For* you will be justified from your words and you will be sentenced from your words."

Again addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in Mark 7:5, Christ addressed manís standards of good and evil compared to Godís standards of good and evil.

(Matt 7:5 MLV) The Pharisees and the scribes ask him, Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands? 7:6 But he answering, said to them, "Isaiah did prophecy well concerning you* hypocrites, as it has been written, ĎThis people are honoring me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7:7 But in vain they do worship me, teaching as their teachings the precepts of men.í {Is. 29:13} 7:8 For* you* leave the commandment of God and hold fast the tradition of men, like <11>ceremonial washings* of pint pitchers and cups and you* do many other such similar things." 7:9 And he said to them, "Full well do you* reject the commandment of God, that you* may keep your* tradition. 7:10 For* Moses said, ĎHonor your father and your mother.í {Ex. 20:12 & Dt. 5:16} And, ĎHe who is speaking evil of father or mother, let him die the death.í {Ex. 21:17 & Lev. 20:9} 7:11 But you* say, If a man will say to his father or his mother, that with what you might have been profited from me is Corban, that is to say, Given to God; 7:12 and you* no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother. 7:13 You* are making invalid the word of God by your* tradition, which you* have delivered and you* do many such similar things." 7:14 And having called to him all the crowd again, he said to them, "All of you* hear me and understand: 7:15 there is nothing outside the man, that going into him is able to defile him; but the things which go out from him, those are the things which defile the man. 7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." 7:17 And when he had entered into the house from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. 7:18 And he says to them thus, "Are you* also without understanding? Do you* not perceive, that whatever is outside, going into the man, is not able to defile him; 7:19 because it does not enter into his heart, but into his belly and goes out into the sewer?"Ö 7:20 And he said, "That which comes out of the man, defiles the man. 7:21 For* evil acts of reasoning come out, from inside, out of the heart of men such as: adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, 7:22 acts of covetousness, acts of wickedness, guile, carnal indulgences, an evil eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, foolishness. 7:23 All these evil things come out from inside and defile the man."

Paul also spoke, in Romans 1:18, of mankindís rejection of Godís obvious standards of good and evil and of how men, who willingly ignore God, are on an unending and never achieving quest for their own standards.

(Rom 1:18-25 MLV) For* the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold on to the truth in unrighteousness; 1:19 because what is known of God is manifest in them; for* God manifested it to them. 1:20 For* the unseen things of him are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being perceived by the produced things, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without defense: 1:21 because knowing God, they did not glorify him as God, nor gave thanks; but became-vain in their acts of reasoning and their heart which has no understanding was darkened. 1:22 They are foolish, claiming to be wise, 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the similarity of an image of corruptible man, of birds, four-footed animals and reptiles. 1:24 Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves. 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

 

 

Worshipping the Created Rather Than the Creator

 

In our present-day societies, the New Age religious movement is an example of the worship of the created, rather than the Creator. It sees God physically embodied everywhere and present in everything. Scripture tells us that we are created in the image of God. Therefore, there is no doubt that God looks like we look. Though in magnitudes of power greater than our finite abilities, God is a creator in much the way we are enabled to plan and create things. The great creation and its unbelievably intricate interconnectedness is the outward expression of the Fatherís great creative abilities. God does not, however, look like a tree, or smell like flowers or the ocean air, or sound like a bird. God created those things but God is not embodied in those things. Such belief and behavior is idolatry.

 

In verse 28, Paul continued his condemnation of such earth-worshippers and God-deniers by revealing their actual hidden attitudes, motivations, and actions.

(Rom 1:28 MLV) And just-as they did not approve to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an unapproved mind, to do those things which are not fitting. 1:29 They were filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, guile, maliciousness; malicious whisperers, 1:30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31 without understanding, covenant-breakers, cold-hearted, implacable, unmerciful. 1:32 Now these who, having known the ordinance of God (those who practice such things are worthy of death), not only are doing the same, but also consent with those who practice them.

Even more than the mere "letter of the law" prohibition of idolatry found in the second commandment, in Deuteronomy 16:21, God expressed his absolute hatred of idolatry.

(Deu 16:21-22 NASB) "You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make for yourself. {22} "Neither shall you set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the LORD your God hates.

What else does God hate? In Malachi 2:16, we can see that, even though he permitted it, God really hates divorce because of the spiritual wrong it creates.

(Mal 2:16 NASB) "For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."

In Zechariah 8:17, God speaks of other things he hates.

(Zec 8:17 NASB) 'Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,' declares the LORD."

In Proverbs 6:16, God provides us with the master list of seven things he really hates.

(Prov 6:16-19 NASB) There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: {17} Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, {18} A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, {19} A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

I donít know about you but I certainly wouldnít want to get anywhere near something that God says he hates. Thatís strong language coming from our Creator.

 

 

Eradication of Evil from our Lives

 

Thus far we have seen that God, through his laws and statutes, provides mankind with the proper knowledge of good and evil according to Godís standards of righteousness. Most of mankind throughout the centuries of our existence has rebelled against or ignored Godís standards in favor of searching for and determining our own standards of good and evil. Over the millennia, and even now, those few who voluntarily acknowledge, submit and adhere to Godís definitions and standards are beneficiaries of the wisdom and blessings that come from obedience to righteousness. Just what should be our attitudes, our actions, and our obedience toward Godís standards of good and evil?

 

In Job 28:28, Job spoke of our duty as Godís slaves to depart from evil.

(Job 28:28 NASB) "And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'"

There should be no argument that we all want to grow in understanding and wisdom. If Job, one of the greatest, wisest, and most righteous men ever to live tells us that fearing God is wisdom and departing from evil is understanding, what can we do in our daily lives so that we can gain more of each? In Psalms 19:9, King David gives us the answer.

(Psa 19:9-11 NASB) The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. {10} They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. {11} Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.

The word used by David for "fear" is Strongís number 3374. It is yir'ah and it is defined as fearÖ or moral reverence. If you have moral reverence or respect for something or someone, then you really do hesitate or fear to act in a manner contrary to that principle or person. In the case of the judgments of God cited above by David as being "righteousness altogether", we should have a respectful "fear" of God if we willingly violate them. So, it is by the keeping of Godís judgments and commandments that we can grow daily in Godís righteousness, wisdom, and understanding.

In Psalms 34:11, David continues to extol the virtues that come through fearing God and keeping his commandments. We should choose to live according Godís standards of good and choose to flee from what God deems as evil, rather than groping for our own standards.

(Psa 34:11-16 NASB) Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. {12} Who is the man who desires life, And loves length of days that he may see good? {13} Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. {14} Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it. {15} The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. {16} The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Not only did King David have a lot to say about voluntarily submitting to and living according to Godís standards of righteousness, so did his son, Solomon. In Proverbs 8:13, God speaks through Solomon of his hatred of evil.

(Prov 8:13 NASB) "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.

It should be clear to all of us by now that our Father absolutely hates evil and lying and idolatry. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, as his slaves, to willingly do the bidding of our master. We should not, however, just do what is pleasing to God out of a motivation of fear alone. Earlier we read that David spoke of God giving rewards for the keeping of his commandments and judgments. Likewise, Solomon tells us in Proverbs 16:6 that God protects us when our ways are pleasing to him.

(Prov 16:6-7 NASB) By lovingkindness and truth, iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. {7} When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

In verse six, we can see that itís by the fear of God that we can keep away from evil and our iniquities can be atoned for by our daily dispensing of lovingkindness and truth. Look at that again. It says our iniquity, which is our very sins, can be atoned or covered; but only if we act by daily dispensing lovingkindness and truth. Think about that!

 

We also realize that only a few years ago, many people would not have been very concerned with enemies in the world. While there was always a threat against national security from far-away countries, the threat to our daily lives seemed remote. That is not the case today, as the threat to personal security is on our minds almost every day, wherever we may be. So, we definitely need to pay attention to verse seven and do everything in our power to invite Godís protection.

 

In Luke 6:27, Jesus (or Yeshua) made love and doing good to our enemies an even more binding way of life for his followers.

(Luke 6:27-35 MLV) But I say to you* who hear, Love* your* enemies, do good to those who hate you*, 6:28 bless those who curse you*, pray on behalf of those who exploit you*. 6:29 Offer to him who beats you on the one cheek, the other also, and from him who takes away your garment do not forbid him from taking your tunic also. 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who takes away what is yours, do not ask for it back. 6:31 And just-as you* wish that men should do to you*, you* do also similarly to them. 6:32 And if you* love* those who love* you*, what thanks do you* have? For* even sinners love* those who love* them. 6:33 And if you* do good to those who do good to you*, what thanks do you* have? For* even sinners do the same. 6:34 And if you* lend to them of whom you* hope to receive, what thanks do you* have? For* even sinners lend to sinners, to receive equally. 6:35 But love* your* enemies and do them good and lend, hoping for nothing again. And your* reward will be great and you* will be sons of the Most High: because he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.

Returning good for evil is not just a New Testament teaching of Christ. Back in Proverbs 25:21, God, speaking through Solomon, said the same thing in the Old Testament.

(Prov 25:21-22 NASB) If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; {22} For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you.

The apostle Paul quoted Solomon in Romans 12:17. He went beyond Solomonís proverb, however, when he admonished Christians to overcome evil with good.

(Rom 12:17-21 MLV) Render to no one evil for evil. Plan good things in the presence of all men. 12:18 If possible, from your* heart, be at peace with all men. 12:19 Beloved do not avenge yourselves, but give a chance for the wrath of God: for* it has been written, ĎVengeance belongs to me. I will repay, says the Lord.í {Dt. 32:25} 12:20 But if your enemy hunger, hand feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink: for* in doing this, you will pile up hot-coals of fire upon his head. 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In 1 John 2:8, the Apostle John admonishes all Christians to be united in mind and purpose and deed.

(1 John 2:8-17 NASB) On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. {9} The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. {10} The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. {11} But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Read verse eleven again. John says that if I hate my brother, I am in darkness. Turn back just a page or two to 1 John 1:5.

(1 John 1:5-8 NASB) And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. {6} If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; {7} but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

So, if we are walking in darkness by hating a brother, we are having no fellowship at all with God who is light and lives in light. Now, letís go back to 1 John 2 and continue in verse 12.

(1 John 2:12-17 NASB) I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. {13} I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. {14} I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. {15} Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. {17} And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

John continues in the third chapter of 1 John and gets to the heart of the issue.

(1 John 3:2-24 NASB) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. {3} And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. {4} Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. {5} And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. {6} No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. {7} Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; {8} the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. {9} No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. {10} By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Look at that! How do we know who are the children of the devil? Well, it is by their observable deeds. Do they practice righteousness Ė thatís righteousness defined by God laws? Do they love their brothers? If not they are not of God.

Continue in verse 11.

(1 John 3:11-24 NASB) For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; {12} not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. {13} Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you. {14} We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. {15} Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

We know a murderer is a commandment breaker and an unrepentant commandment breaker condemns himself to eternal death. How do we know, however, just what is love? We have Christís own example. Continue in verse sixteen.

(1 John 3:16-24 NASB) We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. {17} But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? {18} Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. {19} We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, {20} in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. {21} Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; {22} and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. {23} And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. {24} And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

 

 

No Argument about Evil in the World

 

Weíve now come full circle back to where we began. There can be no argument: we have seen many examples in scripture showing plainly that there is evil in the world. We know, in the final analysis, that it is Satan who is the ultimate author and inspirer of evil but it is men who do his evil deeds in this world. We donít have to look very hard to see much of the evil and lying around the world. We can see it in corrupt governments in Africa, or in the false religion of atheism in communist Red China, on in the lying politicians of North and South America or Europe. We see it also in the lying and the murders and the terrorism against Godís chosen nation of Israel by their Arab neighbors. It is absurd because, even though there are many feuds and skirmishes throughout the world with families fighting families and groups against groups, where else can you witness so many nations filled with hatred whose very goal is to annihilated another nation so that it can no longer exist? It is evil.

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul admonished the church at Thessalonica to put away evil from their lives.

(1 Th 5:14-22 NASB) And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. {15} See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. {16} Rejoice always; {17} pray without ceasing; {18} in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. {19} Do not quench the Spirit; {20} do not despise prophetic utterances. {21} But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; {22} abstain from every form of evil.

As slaves of the Most High God, we are not to behave as the rest of the world. We are to flee evil and do good, but not that which is good by our own determination. In Colosians 3:2, Paul said that we are not to live according to our old evil ways of this world but we are to put on the new man of God.

(Col 3:2-5 MLV) Be mindful of the things which are above, not on the things which are upon the earth. 3:3 For* you* died and your* life is hid with Christ in God. 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, will be manifested, then you* will also be manifested in glory with him. 3:5 Therefore put to death your* members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Read that again. Did I say it? No, God said it through Paul. Immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed all amount to idolatry; and you know already how much God hates idolatry. Look at yourself. By this definition, are you an idolater?

(Col 3:6-17 MLV) Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience: 3:7 with whom you* also once walked, when you* lived in these things. 3:8 But now also, place all these things away from yourselves: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, shameful language from your* mouth. 3:9 Do not lie to one another; since you* have stripped off the old man with his practices, 3:10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed to knowledge after the image of him who created him: 3:11 where there is no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond-slave, free man; but Christ is all and in all. 3:12 Therefore as God's chosen, holy and beloved, put on a <1>heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 3:13 tolerating one another and forgiving each other. If anyone has a complaint against any; just-as the Lord forgave you*, so you* do this also. 3:14 But above all these things put on love*, which is the bond of perfection. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ govern in your* hearts, to which you* were also called in one body, and become thankful. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you* richly. In all wisdom, start teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your* hearts to God. 3:17 And whatever you* do in word or in works, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Think about how our world has changed in the recent past. The evil that we used to only occasionally hear about in the news was generally far away and was of only passing concern to most people. Earlier, we read in Isaiah about Godís warning to ancient Israel in the days of King Uzziah. That warning, however, is equally valid for us today.

"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, {17} Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. {18} "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. {19} "If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; {20} "But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword." Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

 

It is by Godís standards of good and evil that we are to live. Do you recall the tree of prominence in the Garden of Eden? It was the Tree of Life. It represented the permanent, spiritual, eternal life that comes from God. There was no prohibition or limitation on eating its fruit. Once the choice was made to eat first, instead, from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Evil made the fateful decision for themselves and for all of us since that time. They chose to reject the standards of God and be cut off from the very source of eternal life. It is only through the sacrifice of the Son of God, our righteous redeemer, that we have been purchased back from our certain death and given an opportunity to be enslaved in righteousness to a new Master. We are to live now with freedom by his standards of righteousness, not our own.

 

Remember always: there is no middle ground between good and evil.

 

Sermon given by Philip Edwards

August 5, 2005
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Copyright 2005, Philip Edwards


 

 

 

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