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Bible verses about Evil
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 1:26-31

In the beginning, Adam and Eve were not created with the evil nature we see displayed in all of mankind. At the end of the sixth day of creation, God took pleasure in all He had made and pronounced it "very good," including Adam and Eve and the nature or the heart He placed in them. An evil heart cannot possibly be termed "very good." They were a blank slate, one might say, with a slight pull toward the self, but not with the strong, self-centered, touchy, and offensive heart that is communicated through contact with the world following birth.

Following Adam and Eve's creation, God placed them in Eden and instructed them on their responsibilities. He then purposefully allowed them to be exposed to and tested by Satan, who most definitely had a different set of beliefs, attitudes, purposes, and character than God. Without interference from God, they freely made the choice to subject themselves to the evil influence of that malevolent spirit. That event initiated the corruption of man's heart. Perhaps nowhere in all of Scripture is there a clearer example of the truth of I Corinthians 15:33: "Evil communications corrupt good manners."

Comparing our contact with Satan to Adam and Eve's, a sobering aspect is that God shows they were fully aware of Satan when he communicated with them. However, we realize that a spirit being can communicate with a human by transferring thoughts, and the person might never know it! He would assume the thoughts were completely generated within himself.

Following their encounter with the evil one, "the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked" (Genesis 3:7). This indicates an immediate change in their attitudes and perspectives. It also implies a change of character from the way God had created them, as they had indeed willingly sinned, thus reinforcing the whole, degenerative process.

This began not only their personal corruption but also this present, evil world, as Paul calls it in Galatians 1:4. All it took was one contact with, communication from, and submission to that very evil source to effect a profound change from what they had been. The process did not stop with them, as Romans 5:12 confirms, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." Adam and Eve passed on the corrupt products of their encounter with Satan to their children, and each of us, in turn, has sinned as willingly as our first ancestors did.

When we are born, innocent of any sin of our own, we enter into a 6,000-year-old, ready-made world that is permeated with the spirit of Satan and his demons, as well as with the evil cultures they generated through a thoroughly deceived mankind. In consequence, unbeknownst to us, we face a double-barreled challenge to our innocence: from demons as well as from this world.

Six thousand years of human history exhibit that we very quickly absorb the course of the world around us and lose our innocence, becoming self-centered and deceived like everybody else (Revelation 12:9). The vast majority in this world is utterly unaware that they are in bondage to Satan - so unaware that most would scoff if told so. Even if informed through the preaching of the gospel, they do not fully grasp either the extent or the importance of these factors unless God draws them by opening their eyes spiritually (John 6:44-45).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Three)


 

Genesis 3:1

The marginal reference for subtle is "cunning." "Cunning" is almost always used in a negative sense. Someone who is cunning is skilled in ingenuity or deceit, selfishly clever, crafty. "Cunning" describes those who use their smarts, intelligence, wits to get the best of the other fellow by using whatever deceitful, underhanded means available so they "win."

In the Bible, serpents are depicted as a paradoxical combination of wisdom and evil—beautiful yet repulsive. They have a fluid grace if viewed from a safe distance, but they are to be feared because they strike from hiding places and strike without warning. A serpent symbolizes craftiness that mesmerizes its victims. The contrast with a lamb, a symbol of Jesus Christ, is stunning.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast


 

Proverbs 8:13

Proverbs 8:13 is one of the definition verses of the Bible, along with "sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4, KJV) and "the love of God [is] that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3), among others. Here, the fear of the Lord is defined as "hating evil."

In the Bible, "evil" is used in a wide variety of ways, but as we might expect, its basic meaning is simply "bad" or "negative." It appears in both the passive and active senses. When used passively, it describes distress, misery, misfortune, calamity, or repulsiveness. Proverbs 8:13, however, does not express the passive form of evil, but the active form, which is used in two ways in the Bible. The first can be defined as "what is wrong with regard to God's original and ongoing intent," while the second is narrower in scope: "what is detrimental in its effects on mankind."

People are most familiar with the second definition. When we think of evil, we typically imagine something that is purposefully injurious or intentionally unkind. It is not merely bad in the sense that a hurricane may be bad; it is more than merely unpleasant, but rather terrible by someone's design. In this definition of evil, there is intent to harm—or at the very least, ambivalence toward harm done to another. Evil does not care if harm is done.

In his book, People of the Lie—subtitled "The Hope for Healing Human Evil"—Dr. M. Scott Peck provides a simple yet profound definition of evil: "that which does harm to life or liveliness." The book is about "malignant narcissism": self-centeredness so extreme and pervasive that those possessing it continually injure others around them, not with physical wounds, but with subtle assaults on their emotional or spiritual well-being. This evil cannot be observed directly—the malignant narcissist is a master of deception—but can be seen only in its effects on others, in subtle violence perpetrated against the human spirit in others. Even as these people are doing harm to life and liveliness, they are putting on a pretense of righteousness and piety, terrified at the thought that others might see them as they truly are or that they might actually have to face themselves.

This second way that "evil" is used in the Bible—"what is detrimental in terms of its effects on mankind" or "that which does harm to life or liveliness"—can be quite subjective, thus the Bible also defines it as "what is wrong according to God's intent." A common description in the Old Testament is that a certain person or group "did evil in the sight of the LORD." This description is key because the people did not consider their deeds to be evil. In their view, they were harmless acts. Nobody was getting hurt, and nothing detrimental occurred (that they could see), so they did not consider their behavior to be evil. But what they did was evil—in God's sight.

Israel and Judah justified blatant idolatry and even child sacrifice by saying that they were not doing any harm, or that the harm it might do to the child was insignificant compared to the "greater good" that they believed would come from the sacrifice. The same justification is used for the practice of abortion today.

Israel did not consider temple prostitution to be harmful either, but in the eyes of God—the only eyes that see objectively—what they did was evil. It was evil not just in terms of going against God's intent; it went against God's intent because it was injurious to those involved in it, even though they could not see it. In their myopic pride, they were unable to see that what they were involved in would ultimately bear horrible fruit. So God had to define right and wrong, good and evil, because man is so shortsighted that he often cannot see what will cause harm to himself or to a neighbor.

Halloween is a good example of this, for it is nothing short of the glorification of evil. Its roots go back to the Celtic festival of Samhain, who was the "lord of the dead." It was a boiling mixture of drunkenness, revelry, licentiousness, vandalism, treachery, superstition, anarchy, and rank demonism. Today, this festival is dressed up in a creative costume and dubbed "fun for the kids," but its essence is the same. The world calls it "harmless fun," but it is obvious from Scripture that it is "evil in the sight of the LORD." The seed from which Halloween grew was paganism—really just a softer term for "demonism"—and if the seed is evil, the fruit will also be evil, even if presented in a "fun" way. Yet, many people enjoy this annual dose of witches, vampires, and werewolves. They have no problem indulging in the occult, if only in their imaginations.

However, Proverbs 8:13 says that those who fear God instinctively and earnestly loathe those things that do harm to life and liveliness, even if the harm is not immediately apparent. The elements of Halloween, no matter what guise they are in, are contrary to eternal life with God. If we fear God—if we respect Him and what He stands for—then we also oppose all that He is against, which certainly includes anything associated with "the evil one" or his subservient "evil spirits."

David C. Grabbe
Hating Evil, Fearing God


 

Proverbs 8:13

The four examples of evil in Proverbs 8:13, which always end up doing harm, were manifested in Satan, and all of his children continue to exhibit them (see John 8:38, 41, 44). A progression is shown: Pride and arrogance are conditions of the heart, which is where it all starts. Where there is pride in the heart, it will come out in "the evil way," that is in action.

Evil also emerges in words, though it may not always be obvious. Jesus cautions in Matthew 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." When evil resides in the heart, it will be exposed in perverse speech, language contrary to the truth of God and to love. James 3:8 declares that "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." He also says, "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man" (James 3:2). We can only reach that perfection with God's intervention and help, which, thankfully, we have.

The apostle Paul essentially says that the foundation of good works—particularly within the church of God—is humility or lowliness:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

However, if works are done with pride or arrogance, or for the sake of appearance rather than truth and righteousness, they will cause harm. They may also produce some good, but the account of the Two Trees in the Garden of Eden teaches that, in the context of eternity, a mixture of good and evil is really only evil.

David C. Grabbe
Hating Evil, Fearing God


 

Ecclesiastes 3:16-17

Where one might expect righteousness (as in a court), one finds iniquity. But Solomon cautions, "Hang on. God will judge." Another important point to understand is that God's plan seems designed to show men how weak and meaningless they are in the overall scheme of life.

Even injustice and wickedness serve a purpose. Though they are painful for us to deal with, they provide a massive demonstration of our ignorance of our own nature, clearly revealing the overall character of mankind without conversion.

This is a tremendous benefit to the converted because they can always look at the world and ask, "Do I want those results?" If what we see in the world motivates us to fear God and follow the path toward His Kingdom—even though it might be painful, cause us to make a great many sacrifices, or put us under some kind of persecution or tribulation—it is doing a positive work for us if it helps to keep us on the track.

If there were no benefit from it, God would not permit it. If we did not know what evil was, we could not repent. The world shows us, in lurid detail, what evil is. We have the opportunity to evaluate whether or not we want to do the things that have produced this world. Even in the courts, we will see evil, and we see it even in religion. Solomon says we should expect it and not be overly frustrated by it. Instead, we should learn from it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Matthew 7:11

This scripture succinctly state how God perceives all the world and its inhabitants, regardless of one's particular environmental factors. The context of Matthew 7 gives no indication that the people who comprised Jesus' audience were particularly evil; they were just normal human beings. Yet, compared to God's standards for His people, their natural self-centeredness was stressful, disruptive, destructive, and calamitous—not beneficial to any concerned. In a word, they were evil.

The people to whom Jesus spoke were normal, worldly people. They would not have considered themselves evil, but they were, as God judged them. So are we also evil unless we have been justified and are under the blood of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Two)


 

Matthew 24:37

Some feel we have reached a time in history that parallels the period just before the Flood. God recorded what conditions were like as Noah was building the ark: "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). What a horrifying thought! What danger and oppression must have lurked at every turn!

Yet Jesus predicts in a prophecy regarding the time of the end—the time we live in today, "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." In a larger, more general context, Jesus meant that, despite the dangerous, portentous events occurring all around them, people will be going about their normal routines without seriously considering the meaning of these events (Matthew 24:38-39). They will not take the time to wonder if these cataclysmic events are affecting them personally.

How about you? Even though we are living in momentous times, we are easily distracted from their importance by our high standard of living and convenient access to just about anything we desire. The nations of western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States are, for the most part, wallowing in unprecedented technological luxury. Much to our spiritual detriment, our lives are caught up in our possessions and keeping our noses above water economically.

But we must not allow this to happen any longer! Time and prophecy are relentlessly marching on. The book of Amos records an almost exact parallel account to what is happening in our day. It chronicles the social, political, economic, military, and religious conditions and attitudes prevalent in ancient Israel in about 760 BC. This was about forty years before Assyria invaded and completely devastated the nation. So awesome was Israel's defeat that, as far as the world is concerned, her people disappeared from history! They are known as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel today.

Amos is not a happy book to read. It does not contain the encouraging, soaring, and hope-inspiring prophecies of Isaiah. No, Amos speaks of almost unending gloom and doom. This presents an interesting contrast when seen against Israel's surging power, wealth, and influence. During the days of Amos' ministry, the nation was undergoing a burst of prosperity second only to Solomon's time. On the surface, it appeared that Israel's prosperity indicated God's pleasure, but Amos' words prove beyond any doubt that God was not pleased at all! He was deadly serious! If the people would not repent, they were doomed!

The Israelites did not repent. They suffered war, famine, pestilence, and captivity as a result. Tens of thousands died. They learned the hard way that God means exactly what He says through His prophets (Amos 3:7).

Though Amos describes what was literally happening in ancient Israel, God intended the message for us, the physical and/or spiritual descendants of Israel. It was written to stir us to action, seeing that the times indicate Jesus Christ will return soon.

Amos clearly shows that our nations are headed along the same path to destruction as ancient Israel. There is still hope that we will turn around and avoid the wrath of God, but as each day passes, it becomes more unlikely. We have many lessons to learn, and we seem determined to learn them the hard way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)


 

Luke 4:6

Notice that the Devil has authority over the whole world, and he delegates authority to whomever he wishes.

Jesus refers to Satan as the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Christ recognizes Satan as the present ruler of the world. However, Satan does not rule alone. He has a whole army of fallen angels, called demons, at his disposal. The apostle Paul refers to these evil rulers in his letter to the Ephesians. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). These demons may number in the multiple millions (compare Revelation 5:11 and Revelation 12:3-4).

God gives us an occasional glimpse in His Word about how these evil forces are used by Him to influence the rulers of nations. One such vignette occurs in I Kings 22. When Ahab, the evil ruler of Israel, is trying to decide whether to fight against Syria to retake Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, persuades him to consult his prophets first. All of his prophets tell him to proceed with the battle because God would give him a great victory. However, Micaiah, a true prophet of God, tells him that God had allowed an evil spirit to put lies into the mouths of Ahab's prophets. This is because it is God's purpose that Ahab be killed in the battle. Ahab shuns Micaiah, takes the advice of his own prophets, and is killed while fighting the Syrian armies.

In His prophecies regarding those things that will happen close to the second coming of Jesus Christ, God clearly describes how He permits Satan to influence the nations of the world in order to fulfill His end-time prophecies. In Revelation 12, God describes how there will be a great war in heaven sometime near the second coming of Jesus Christ. Satan and his demons will be cast down to the earth and will bring about great persecution on the church of God.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Great Conspiracy


 

Luke 11:13

Jesus directly calls those to whom He was speaking "evil"! Apparently, they were just ordinary people listening to Him teach; they were not representatives of any of those groups that were constantly disputing with Him. Verse 1 suggests His audience was made up of His own disciples! Yet, there is no equivocation at all in His statement. Evil is synonymous with "diseased," "hurtful," "calamitous," "derelict," "vicious," and "malignant." The word derives from the Greek word for "labor," indicating it is something that is worked at, thus producing these evil effects.

In Matthew 19:16, Jesus Himself is called "good," but He promptly corrects the person, saying that only God is good (verse 17). He presumably said that because there were elements of human nature in Him by virtue of His human birth. Luke 11:13, then, is God's assessment of human nature: evil. Just because a human knows how and actually does some good things - acts of kindness or generosity - does not alter the fact that his heart is still incurably evil. Human pride tends to blunt God's assessment of the carnality within us, motivating any remaining enmity (Romans 7:14-24).

Our pride rises to defend us from the condemnation of the standard to which we are compared - God. We consider Adolph Hitler to have been utterly evil, but he is said to have cherished children and dogs, a trait we would tend to judge as good. In a similar vein, James 3:9-10 says that with our tongues "we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing." Where do those words come from? Do they not proceed out from an evil heart (Matthew 12:34)?

People judge human nature to be a mixture of good and evil, but that is not acceptable for life in the Kingdom of God! It may as well be totally evil! Is God Himself contaminated, a blend of good and evil? According to I John 3:2, in His Kingdom "we shall be like Him." We will be purified and uncontaminated as He is. Human nature's evil mix will not be seen in God's Kingdom.

We should by now realize that salvation can only be by grace. Human nature not only cannot be made good, but even now it resides just under the surface. Our conversion barely covers it over, as Peter's outburst against God's will illustrates and Paul's experience, reported in Romans 7, amplifies.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Two)


 

2 Timothy 3:13

This does not mean that, as we approach Christ's return, human nature itself will get any worse than it already is, but that the expressions of its evil will intensify and increase. As the heart's evil acts multiply, greater inducements and opportunities are provided for everyone to be involved in its sinful ways.

In Matthew 24:37, Jesus states that, just before He returns, conditions will become as they were in the days of Noah. Moses reports under God's inspiration in Genesis 6:5, "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." A plethora of evidence indicates that we are approaching such a time in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Two)


 

Find more Bible verses about Evil:
Evil {Nave's}
 




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