Why Is There So Much Evil in the World?
The increasing presence of evil in our day is very troubling. It does seem that all restraint has been lost, and mankind is racing toward its own destruction. And, this is exactly as the Word of God tells us. In the majority of passages that deal with the “End Times,” the presence of evil and the increase of false teachers is seen as a “sign” of this time.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 But know this: difficult times will come in the last days.
2. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3. unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good,
4. traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5. holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!
The interesting point about this reference and the others is that this increase of “evil” is tied to the increase of “False Doctrine”. Notice the emphasized portion of verse 5, above. The people who have been given over to a reckless, sinful lifestyle have fallen prey to the teaching of a “religion” that appears to be genuine, but denies the “miraculous-dynamic-changing power” of the truth (God’s Word: the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ). What Paul is talking about is that these false teachers (mentioned in 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Colossians, Galatians, and in 1 John and Jude) present a message that has no “transforming power”. Their message does produce a “new birth” in the life of the hearer. Yet, they are under the assumption that they have come to something new—and better! They feel free to establish new standards in their life and are “free” from the guilt of former values. They avoid questions of morality in favor of “personal choice” and the “tolerance” of the values/ethics of others (no one should be judgmental). This leads to a society where there is “no restraint, no conviction, no conscience of personal wrong”. It leads to the very time we find ourselves living in, today!
Abandoning the Truth
I will first speak of the results of a society where the “Truth of God’s Word” is not honored (then, we can end on a high note). The Biblical record is absolutely clear: the farther away mankind moved from God’s standards, the more evil his society became. It happened in Genesis leading up to the flood (the Ark being a type of the rapture of the Church prior to the 2nd coming of Christ). It happened to Israel in the wilderness, to Israel in the time of the Judges, to Israel before the Babylonian Captivity, and to Israel leading to the crucifying of the Messiah—the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be a certain sign of the end of time!
Notice the common theme of these passages:
Genesis 6:5 When the LORD saw that man's wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time,
6. the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, people of Israel, for the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land: There is no truth, no faithful love, and no knowledge of God in the land!
2. Cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery are rampant; one act of bloodshed follows another.
3. For this reason the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes, along with the wild animals and the birds of the sky; even the fish of the sea disappear.
6. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.
It is easy to see the parallels between these passages and that of 2 Tim 3:1–5, especially in the section from Hosea. Most of the Priests and the “majority” of the prophets in Israel were not speaking the truth of the Word to the people. They had allowed the congregation to make-up their own form of righteousness—to walk according to their own fleshly desires—and then called it “blessed”. But, it was not blessed. It was an abomination. And, it would lead only to misery and a total collapse of their Kingdom.
They could, of course, repent. There were true Prophets who spoke the Word of God to the people. Hosea, Micah, Amos, and later the other writing Prophets told them what God really desired, and the blessing that would result from accepting His Word. Some realized the truth—they became the remnant. And yet, these same Prophets who spoke the truth were criticized and rebuked by the false prophets and teachers. They liked the society the way it was going and had little regard for the standards that God had established.
This, of course, is a similar situation to the one Paul was addressing in 2 Timothy. The false teachers were enjoying the popularity they had with the people. Their message required little personal commitment—it was all about “new knowledge” and ascending to a higher level where one realized that physical things (including sin) were of no consequence. This doctrine was later called “Gnosticism” and it became the greatest opponent of Christianity for the next 4 Centuries. However, as Paul points out, it brought nothing good to mankind, and in fact allowed all manner of evil into society.
Today, this same “doctrine” is found in our world. It comes in the forms of humanism, New Age religion, modernism, hedonism, and more recently under the buzz word, “tolerance”. Yet, this tolerance has released nothing but havoc upon our culture: our family values, our educational institutions, our morality, and, most unfortunately, our churches. Many “churches” have adopted a doctrine that accepts the removing of moral standards that are established by God’s Word. More and more, society demands that we accept other religions as more valid than Christianity, that personal lifestyles are of no consequence, and that moral absolutes are old-fashioned and condemning.
The results: a rise in crime; the break-down of the family unit; rejection of common decency; the flagrant display of immorality; violence against the innocent and immature that is beyond our understanding; and an outright abandoning of “true religion” as defined by the Bible.
The Power of The Gospel
Thank God for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The salvation we have received has brought us not only the reality of a life that is eternal but also has given us the “power” to live unto God in this world. This is something that the “false gospel” cannot produce—there is no transformation, there is no power to live for God.
Listen to the words of Paul in Romans 1:16–17.
16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
17. For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
That’s good news! The “true Gospel” (actually there is no other) has the power to transform. The word for “power” used here is related to the same word for miracles. This word speaks of a power that is waiting for release so that it can produce. Our words dynamo and dynamite come from the same root—super-abundant, life-giving power waiting to be released. When you received the message of salvation it produced a miraculous change in you. That’s good for you!
Colossians 1:5–6 (J.B. Phillips New Testament) presents a great picture of the power of the Gospel.
We know that you are showing these qualities because you have grasped the hope reserved for you in Heaven - that hope which first became yours when the truth was brought to you. It is, of course, part of the Gospel itself, which has reached you as it spreads all over the world. Wherever that Gospel goes, it produces Christian character, and develops it, as it had done in your own case from the time you first heard and realized the amazing fact of God's grace.
I really love that translation, and the way it presents the emphasis of the original language. The “Gospel” itself has the power—it produces and develops Christian character. God has placed within each believer a power that not only recreates them in His image but also gives them the ability to live to His glory.
This very principle is illustrated in 1Thessalonians 1:5–9.
5. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit,
6. and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with the joy from the Holy Spirit.
7. As a result, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
8. For the Lord's message rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out, so we don't need to say anything.
9. For they themselves report about us what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10. and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (Holman Christian Standard Translation)
This is another great passage that speaks of the power of transformation that is released in the life of the believer. The Gospel of God’s grace has not set us free to live without restraint—it has set us free to live for Him, free from the bondage of sin! Of course, believers need to continue in His Word and give themselves to the leading / teaching of the Spirit that is within.
Meanwhile, those who listen to, and accept the “form of religion” receive no transformation, and therefore do not have the ability live a life for God. They remain prisoners of the flesh, although they profess that they are “religious”. This is not what God has desired—neither is it what Jesus died to accomplish. This empty religion produces nothing good and generates a type of arrogance that tells the “victim” they are really free. Yet, sadly, they are not. It is no wonder, then, that they have no control of sinful desires, and lack the fortitude to confront the evil that is growing in society. Far from helping mankind, they actually add to the deterioration of our culture, our morals, and our families.
There are many other passages that relate the power that “salvation” produces in the believer. We have been given the freedom to live above the power of the flesh and to glorify God with the testimony of our life. We can proclaim the “…power of God unto salvation” to a world that is addicted to self-indulgence, and avoidance of guilt. Our “light” shines brighter as we meditate on Him, and as the society around us progresses to the worse.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, with salvation for all people,
12. instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,
13. while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
14. He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.
God’s grace at work in us will teach us to a live in a manner that produces works of righteousness—good works that follow salvation.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light--
9. for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth--
10. discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.
11. Don't participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them.
The lifestyle / good works of the believers set them apart from the unbeliever. Our manner of living should “expose / reprove the sinful and ungodly character of those still trapped in the ways of the world.
And study these passages:
Romans 6:1–19 We “died with Christ” therefore we are freed from the power of sin to control us. We have the power to live / walk in a “new manner”.
Ephesians 4:17–24 Because our spirits have been “re-created” in the image and likeness of God, we can bring the reality of this “new man” to the outside, and produce works of righteousness.
Colossians 3:1–14 Again, we have the “power” to live for God’s glory.
Galatians 5:16–18 The Holy Spirit is the guide for living a life of righteousness.
We have the “power” of living unto God. The “world / unbeliever” does not. Yet, our message, our ministry is not one of “condemnation” but one of “reconciliation”.
2 Cor 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ's behalf, "Be reconciled to God."
21. He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Finally, can we stop the evil? No! However, we can proclaim the simplicity of salvation through Jesus Christ, and watch this “Gospel” produce in the lives of those who have received. We can pray against the aggressive spread of evil. We can speak boldly to our community and society about the blessings that result from following God’s standards, and the evil that results from the rejection of the same. And, we can “await the appearance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—our deliverer from the coming wrath”.