S1 - Being evil minded
‘Abstain from every form of evil’
What is evil?
In a general definition, it is the absence of good. Yet, it is more than that. To the world, it is associated with an act that is malicious. But is that how Christians would describe ‘evil’?
Inanimate objects like a table or a tree cannot be evil. The same maybe said of animals. For example, we cannot expect to place a sheep into a lion’s den without the former being eaten up by the latter; it is in the lions’ DNA to do what lions do.
But we, human beings, can be described as ‘evil’ because there is the critical element of ‘intent’ (some might called it ‘motivation’) behind what we do.
Matt Slick of CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) said – if a person’s break someone’s arm to save his life, then that is not considered evil. However, if a person breaks someone’s arm in order to watch him suffer, then that is evil as it violates a Christian commandment which is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39).
Rom 1:19-20 (NLT) says,
‘They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Throughout everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God.’
Within all human beings, we have an internal thermostat that enables us to distinguish between right and wrong as well as good and evil. Hence, almost all societies have documented standards identifying and punishing ‘evil’ behavior although those standards may vary and, over time, change.
To a Christian, sin means missing the mark or not doing that which we are supposed to do in accordance to God’s commands. Abraham Lincoln, the great American President, said,
‘But for it (the Bible), we could not know right from wrong.’
For Christians, the universal standards of right and wrong, and good and evil, have been explicitly established within the Bible (God’s Word).
Here is the question – To Christians, is sin the same as evil?
For example, lying is a sin but if there is no malicious intent, is that still evil?
The original Greek word for ‘evil’ is poneros and it is the same as evil, bad, wicked, malicious, and even slothful (or lazy). A servant who failed to use the talent allocated to him was also called ‘evil’ (poneros) by the Lord (Matt 25:26). It is the same with someone who is lazy. For more information on the former, please go to S81, Fail to use our gifts.
God’s concept of evil seems to encompass more than what the world understands ‘evil’ to be, that is, beyond ‘malicious intent’; it, in fact, implies all sin-types.
Within this Project, we will attempt to unpack these sin-types as found in the New Testament.
Abstain from every form of evil.
Feedback from EL incorporated
S2 - Being wicked
Rom 1:29 separates the word ‘evil’ with ‘wickedness’. ‘Wickedness’ is defined as the ‘quality of being evil or morally wrong’ or ‘the extent of being bad’. The word, ‘wretched’ is also associated with ‘wickedness’.
The original Greek word is adikia. It can be translated as unrighteousness and/ or injustice. Unrighteousness includes how we deceived others for our own gain, treachery, or even a judge who practices injustice. It can also be rewards that we received from doing wrong.
The two terms seem to be used interchangeably. Is the purpose of Rom 1:29 intended to draw emphasis?
S3 - Worship the devil
Devil worshipper – Rev 9:20 talks about the last days and how the unrepented ‘continues to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk!’
The devil is after our worship. In the Temptation of Jesus, the devil (or Satan) was prepared to offer him all the kingdoms of the world as long as Jesus would ‘fall down and worship him.’ (Matt 4:9)
We know that since the days of the early church, idol worship is widespread. For example, in the Book of Acts, while Paul was in Ephesus, a silversmith, Demetrius, a maker of the silver shrines of Diana, instigated a riot in order to protect his own livelihood (Acts 19:21-35).
There are of course many people who worship idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. We often see these worshippers, for example, in places like Asia.
Does the modern-day environment include other forms of devil worship?
It is a sin to worship idols and demons.
S4 - Not seeking after God (neglecting God)
No one understands; no one seeks God.
It is a sad truth but many people simply do not seek for God; God is not on their agenda. Societies purposely write God away by endorsing evolution. And it has nothing to do with a person’s intellectual level. In fact, in some communities, belief in God may even be considered a mental illness; we know a few communist countries do actually incarcerate their God-fearing citizens.
It does not help that progressively, most public schools across the world are teaching evolution rather than creationism. And the mainstream media castigate and mock anyone who vaguely mentions God.
Is it that difficult to believe in God? The Bible says in Ps 19:1,
‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.’
The way our individual DNA reveals a higher creative power – for example, every cell of our bodies exists with a very detailed instruction code much like a miniature computer program. Our DNA is really a full instruction manual.
Dr Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and a member of the distinguished US National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine as well as currently the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said,
‘I think it takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in God.’
God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that everyone who ‘seek me (will) find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
Ultimately, we have very little excuses. People will rather busy themselves in regard to day-to-day activities rather than to ask the confronting question of whether God exists.
People make choices and some are hellbent not to seek God.
S5 - Hate God
Rom 1:30 describes a group of people who are ‘haters of God’.
These people resent God. Do you know of anyone who just loath God? Do you know a person who brazenly shakes his/ her fists at God? The late brilliant theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, seemed to be one such person.
Do you know of people who hate someone else intensely? That might be able to explain how some people would hate God.
S6 - Claim to be God
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and they will lead many astray.”
It takes someone with a lot of evilness and godlessness to claim to be the Christ. But we can think of a few throughout the centuries and they have misled throngs of people through their charisma, teachings and religious systems. Sometimes, it might involve wars as conquered people are coerced into embracing this ‘new’ religion.
There are, obviously, not many people who dare to claim that they are God. The late C S Lewis, a brilliant Oxford professor, put it best when he said that a man who claimed to be God is either a liar, a lunatic or the real thing.
How do the various religious leaders of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism stand up to their claims?
S7 - Blaspheme God's name(s)
‘And they cursed the name of God’ Rev 16:9.
What does it mean to ‘curse the name of God’? How often do people swear using the name ‘Jesus Christ’? Would that be the same as ‘cursing the name of God’?
Godless people will not think twice about using that name because Jesus meant nothing to them. Within our societies, unfortunately, adults and movies are modeling such behavior as acceptable to their children.
It is a sin to use the name of Jesus carelessly as a swear word.
S8 - Possess an unteachable spirit
‘Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
Godlessness may also take the form of a spirit that is not teachable. The Pharisees, although they were teachers of the law, could not see the obvious that was in front of them; a man born blind was miraculously healed by Jesus on the Sabbath. Yet, the Pharisees chose not to acknowledge the miracle but to attack Jesus because he had healed on the Sabbath.
The Pharisees had become unteachable. Do we see Christians doing the same? Also, see S138, Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
S9 - Worship idols
‘Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry’.
Idolatry is godlessness. Idolatry relates to ‘idol’ – ‘idol’ being an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. Idolatry is, thus, the worship of an image of someone the person considered to be equated with God.
Idolatry takes many forms beyond S3 – Worship the devil. Someone may choose to worship another person because the other person is a famous movie star or a football player.
We can also worship consumerism, the activity of buying and accumulating goods for the sheer joy of doing so. Others might turn towards a certain brand of cars. It starts becoming an idol when all we can think of is that person or item and when we are prepared to spend a substantial amount of money on that thing.
Idolatry can take the form of our own created ‘god’, of what we feel God ought to be.
2 Tim 4:3 (NLT) says,
‘For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires …’
We create God in our own image as against God creating us in his own image (Gen 1:27).
For Chinese, worshiping their ancestors maybe construed as idolatry. Chinese often worships by lighting three joss sticks in the courtyard and then placing them into a sand-filled container. It is the Taoist’s belief that the smoke from the lighted joss sticks helps waft prayers towards their deities or ancestors. Kowtows (low bows) is another form of worship, usually carried out to Chinese deities or their ancestors. For more information on Chinese worship, please go HERE.
There is a substantial difference between honoring an ancestor and worshiping one.
Idolatry for Christians often begins as an innocent activity.
S10 - Practice deceitfulness
Titus 1:10 calls such people ‘deceivers’. Who is a deceiver? It refers to someone who mislead others by a false appearance of statement. Or someone who leads others to believe something that is not true.
D93 describes Satan as the father of lies.
John 8:44 says, Satan ‘is a liar and the father of lies’.
Lying and deception are similar although outright lying is probably more obvious than deception. To deceive, one has to give the appearance of truth through scheming; hence, the issue of half-truths (Half-truths are far more dangerous than outright lies).
A deceitful person is a godless person who mixes half-truths in order to gain your trust before taking advantage of you.
Interestingly, Islam accepts the practices of deception. For more information on ‘tawriya’ or ‘taqiyya’, click here.
S11 - Practice sorcery and witchcraft, including fortune-telling, mediums, and psychics
Rev 21:8 says,
‘But to the cowardly and unbelieving … and sorcerers …. Their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.’
Sorcery is the use of black magic or witchcraft. Almost immediately after President Trump took office in Jan 2017, a group of witches gathered and performed a mass spell designed to ‘bind him so that his malignant works may fail utterly’. The Facebook group attracted more than 10,500 likes and coined the hashtag #magicresistance.
Horoscope, foretelling and mediums are the same as ‘sorcery’. Deut 18:10-12 (NLT) says,
‘Do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you.’
Sorcery and the practice of witchcraft are real and they represent godlessness.
S12 - Steal from others
Eph 4:28 says,
‘Let the thief no longer steal but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.’
Theft which is the action of stealing, taking from others with the intention of depriving the rightful owner, is a sin. We will discuss forms of stealing later on.
S13 - Invent evil things (evil protagonist)
Rom 1:30 describes these people as ‘inventors of evil or evil things’. There are many innovators but there are some who invent ‘evil things’. What would come under this category’? Consider these examples:
- Margaret Sanger who pioneered the forerunner of Planned Parenthood Federation. She helped to bring about abortion. Is abortion is sin? If a fetus is in distress before birth, the newspapers would report that the mother would like to keep the baby. But if it is referred to for abortion, a more impersonal term, ‘fetus’, is used. According to World Health Organization (WHO), every year in the world (accurate as of 2019), there are approximately 40 to 50 million abortions. As a matter of comparison, in 2017, the population of Spain and California were 46.57 million and 39.54 million respectively.
- Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner who propagated and advanced pornography to the masses,
- Inventors of religions and cult groups that misled thousands if not millions of people to worship idols and go after false gods,
- The invention of sarin gas as a killing tool.
The love of money and our creative minds often entice people to create ‘evil things’. What other inventions can you deem as being ‘evil’?
S14 - Teach a false gospel
2 Peter 2:1 says,
‘But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.’
Gal 5:20 used the word, ‘heresies’ – The Greek word is hairesis or a self-chosen opinion or a separate religious sect.
The Apostle Peter wrote this letter to churches across ‘Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia’ (1 Peter 1:1). These places are located in modern Turkey which is now an Islamic nation.
Such cults might use a different book from the Bible or an additional book of instructions. Or they may ‘forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods’ (1 Tim 4:3).
In Matt 7:15-19, Jesus taught us to ‘recognize them by their fruits.’
What does a ‘true’ gospel look like?
While Heb 6:1-2 provides us the fundamental teachings of what it means to be a Christian, the basic Christian doctrines are as follows:
- The central theme of the gospel is that we are all sinners and require God to save us and forgive our sins. We can receive that forgiveness through faith in Jesus alone, and not in accordance to our good deeds (Rom 3:23, Eph 2:8),
- Jesus, by dying on the cross, became our substitutional sacrifice for sins; he took on himself the guilt and necessary punishment for our sins (Gal 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24),
- In addition to putting our faith in Christ alone, believers must also repent, or turn away, from their sins (Acts 2:38),
- Jesus’ resurrection is a precursor to what we can expect in the future for ourselves (1 Cor 15:20),
- The Bible is the word of God and believers must live by what is written in it (John 14:15),
- Following our conversion, believers must share the gospel and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19).
Manipulation of the masses through the use of false religions has been an age-old weapon among a few evil people whether it is because of money and greed or just wrongful zeal.
It is a grave sin to teach and perpetual a false gospel.