Who is evil? It was not until this past summer that I actually settled that question in my mind. As a child I believed the evil people were the “bad guys” in the Bible like Cain, Pharaoh, Achan, and Jezebel. Murderers. Tyrants. Thieves. When my Sunday School teachers taught lessons on these evil characters, it never entered my mind that I might be evil. I certainly never committed any wicked deeds like they had –I was proud to be one of the “good guys”!
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:19
“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 12:14
“All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:23
These people gave in to wickedness because they had not prepared to stand against it. Cain would not have killed Able if he had known the consequences that followed. Pharaoh did not know the Lord; and therefore, no good could possibly come from him. Goodness never proceeds from evil; evil never precedes goodness. The only good that comes from people is the Lord's work through them! Achan's evil did not begin when he stole forbidden plunder. There was a growing selfishness within himself to the point of disregarding God's orders. Jezebel was a foreign queen who married the Israelite king, Ahab. Although exposed to the merciful law of God, she chose to rebel greatly against God's nation. She lived by evil and she died by it too. We may never intend to do evil, but unless we devote our entire life to flee from it, evil will befall us. This is why standards are important. Where we draw lines is were the battle will be. Without lines defeat is nearer than we think.
“And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.” 1 Kings 11:6
David is known as the man after God's own heart. His son, Solomon, was the wisest man on earth, and yet his wisdom did not preserve him from evil. To be preserved from evil we must surrender our heart as David did. David failed at times, but each time he returned his heart to God.
“This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.... so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear. ” Jeremiah 13:10;11
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” Deuteronomy 30:15
Notice the verb phrases in the first verse: refuse to hear, walk in imagination, walk after, serve, and worship. All of us have a sin nature, but after Salvation, Christians have the choice to be good for something. God's own people were named evil due to the wicked heart being fed within themselves. One choice at a time, they made a sad procession away from God. Until Heaven, the sin nature is still there and evil flows rapidly from our heart if it is not fully fearing (seeking) God. The atmosphere in which we see, hear, and touch things is also vital. From our senses our (heart –>) mind, will, and emotions take over. We must in the world right now, but for safety we abide in God too.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” Psalm 91:1;9;10;15;16
Who is evil? As Christians, there are two powers within us --not only the flesh, but the spirit of God also. If we feed flesh, we will do evil. However, by the grace of God, if we feed the spirit, we are named righteous in the sight of God. We are no different than Cain, Achan, and Jezebel if we do not give all our heart as David did. Do not ignore the flesh or the spirit. How we respond to them has eternal consequence.