There is much confusion over that these days. Is evil something that is done by you or to you or is evil something you are? Is it a dark and powerful personal force within you or is it the harmful and hurtful things you do? That confusion contributes to many of our problems in our world today and could be responsible for how evil is on the rise around our world.
If we are going to overcome evil, obviously we must have a clear and actual understanding of what evil is.
And, how we understand evil will determine how we understand good.
In this sermon series we have been defining what it means to Live on Purpose.
Our Purpose Is To Overcome Evil With God
Our Place Is To Discover Our Spiritual Gifts And Serve
Our Purity Is Living In Sincere Love
Our Peace Is Giving Grace, Having Empathy, and Living Humbly
Our Power Is Responding To Evil With Goodness
THE POWER OF EVIL, V. 17
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody."
The New York Times reported a study about the diminishing belief in the devil among Americans. Two-thirds of Americans do not believe in the devil as a living entity. In a randomly selected survey of over 1,000 Americans, pollsters asked whether they agreed that Satan is “not a living being, but a symbol of evil.” Sixty-two percent agreed with the statement. That means nearly 149 million Americans believe that Satan has no influence but that Satan is just a symbol of evil. We should know and understand that Satan is real and evil is real and that this is our number 1 enemy as believers in Jesus Christ.
This 12th Chapter of Romans thinks that evil is a problem because it warns us that if we do not overcome it we will be overcome by it. Let’s just do a quick survey of the Scripture:
V. 2 - By nature you are conformed to this world
V.2 - Your evil nature does not know God's will
V. 3 - Your evil nature is conceited
V. 9 - Your evil nature is insincere and loves what is evil
V. 13 - Your evil nature is selfish.
God thinks evil is a problem because He gave the Commandments to define it and then sent Jesus to defeat it and commissioned His Church to destroy it in the power of the Holy Spirit!The answer to my previous question is that evil is BOTH a noun and a verb.
In other words, I do evil because I have evil in me. I am evil by nature. So are you.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
In our nature we have a rebellious anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-truth bent that seeks to make everything in life about my desires and my opinions.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Wow! That is pretty radical stuff! Why would Jesus propose such a radical response?
When you hear the radical things Jesus said about evil and when you see the radical action Jesus took you know evil is serious business!
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL, V. 18
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
You only have to look as far as the origins of evil. Look what happened in Heaven when Lucifer made an evil choice. His relationship with God was shattered eternally and 1/3 of the angels became evil.
You only have to look as far as the early chapters of Genesis when Adam and Eve chose to do evil:
1) They experienced shame
2) Their relationship was strained
3) Their relationship with God suffered
4) Later, one of their sons murdered the other.
5) We inherited their evil nature
6) Every horrendous despicable tragic that that ever happened since are due to this evil.
Figure 1: shows how drastically the actual knowledge of high school students began to drop at an accelerating rate after 1962. David Barton, who did the report notes that the upturn in SAT scores since 1981 is due to the increase in private Christian educational facilities which began to flourish at that time. Statistics have proven that students from private Christian schools showed higher academic achievement and higher test scores.
Figure 2: This graph shows the increase in sexual activity in unmarried teen-age girls after the 1962 Supreme Court decision. It is evident from the figures provided that in the years previous to the removal of prayer the rates remained stable and relatively unchanged. In the post- prayer years the numbers immediately began to soar. The sudden increase on the graph appears as if a great restraining force had suddenly been removed.
Figure 3: Unwed women 15-19 years of age showed a phenomenal increase in the rate of pregnancies after the School Prayer decision. Note that the figure jumps drastically after the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision which made abortion legal in the U.S. The United States now has the highest incidence of teen-age motherhood in any Western country.
Figure 4: For the 15-19 and 20-24 age group, the rates of youth suicide remained relatively unchanged during the years from 1946 to the School Prayer decision in 1962. But in the years since, suicides among the same group have increased 253 percent, or an average of 10.5 percent per year.
Figure 5: Stability in the family has also been affected since the 1962 decision. Divorce, single parent families, couples living together but not married, and adultery are areas of family breakdown which have experienced radical growth in recent years. In the graph above, the increase in single parent families (households with only a mother and children) are detailed. Note the dotted line at the bottom, which shows the rate of growth prior to the 1962 decision.
Figure 6: Crime, productivity, and national morality had been on a fairly stable level prior to the 1962 decision, but that is no longer the case. It is obvious that such a quantity of students praying for their nation had a very positive effect on the course that this nation had taken. The rate of violent crime, as shown above, has risen over 330 percent.
What God hates most about evil, besides the fact that it offends His holiness, is how it wrecks relationships and hurts people. Those are the two things He values most!
If I were to ask for a show of hands from anyone who has suffered from a relationship that has been shattered or strained by some form of evil habit or influence I would expect to see a room full of hands. EVIL WRECKS RELATIONSHIPS AND BREAKS GOD’S HEART!
So – do you dare be casual about evil?
So – do you dare be casual about evil?
THE POWER OVER EVIL, Vv. 19-21
"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
What is it I should do to overcome evil? How can I stand against evil and stem the tide of evil in an increasingly evil world?
FIRST, REPENT OF YOUR EVIL
What is repentance? Gordon MacDonald helps us to understand with these sobering words: “Repentance is not necessarily repentance for what I have done although it may necessitate that. Repentance is for, more significantly, what is in me as a sinner. I suggest to you that the Bible is teaching us over and over again that in the soul of every person in this room — even in the children — is a volcanic pocket of evil so virile and so full of potential that anyone in this world would probably be capable of destroying the world five times over if all of that evil got out.”
SECOND, BE CLEANSED OF YOUR EVIL AND FILLED WITH HIS SPIRIT
THIRD, LIVE IN HIS LOVE AND HOLY GOODNESS, Vv. 19-21
BECOME PURELY PROACTIVE – STOP REACTING!
One evening a woman was driving home when she noticed a huge truck behind her that was driving uncomfortably close. She stepped on the gas to gain some distance from the truck, but when she sped up the truck did too. The faster she drove, the faster drove the truck.
Now scared, she exited the freeway. But the truck stayed with her. The woman then turned up a main street, hoping to lose her pursuer in traffic. But the truck ran a red light and continued the chase.
Reaching the point of panic, the woman whipped her car into a service station and bolted out of her auto screaming for help. The truck driver sprang from his truck and ran toward her car. Yanking the back door open, the driver pulled out a man hidden in the backseat.
The woman was running from the wrong person. From his high vantage point, the truck driver had spotted a would-be rapist in the woman’s car. The chase was not his effort to harm her but to save her even at the cost of his own safety.
That is how you and I tend to be and it is what makes evil so dangerous. We think that evil is something "OUT THERE". It is those liberals, or those conservatives, or those pro-lifers, or those pro-abortionists, or those Catholics, or those Muslims - anything but us!
So we join good causes and take good stands but evil continues to grow!
The worst evil is the evil within!
BUT - it is an evil you can deal with! It is an evil HE can conquer! You can make the world a less evil place!