Sin has been with us since the beginning. We see the first sign of evil when Cain kills his brother Able out of jealousy. The Bible also tells us that this pre-flood world was full of all kinds of evil, but where did it come from. This article will share some thoughts about three root categories of sin and the cause of evil in the world today. I’ve made great progress on my book Seven times Understanding the Times, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and God’s Ultimate Plan for the world, and hope to release it in 2017, but the purpose of this work is to look at God’s big picture. As part of my study, I began digging into the issue of sin and man’s fallen state, and in particular 1 John 2 listed below. To see the big picture, we must understand sin and how it affects our world (Tweet That!). 1 John 2 suggests that all of our short comings can fall into 3 main areas. I will briefly mention the first and the last from this Biblical list, but the one that I really want to look at the lust of the eyes because I believe it relates to the source of evil.
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
The Lust of the Flesh
The first one mentioned in this list, “lust of the flesh” can be broken down into the physical drives that the body has. Understand that these drives are not wrong, but can be if used in ways that are harmful. God gave us all of our drives to help us live fulfilled lives; they are good when used within the boundaries set by God.
- Thirst & Breath – are drives we have that don’t really have any (sin issue) associated with them.
- Sleep & Hunger – can be associated with the sin of laziness. Resting and taking it easy are not necessarily wrong, but the bible suggests a lifestyle of laziness will lead to ruin. I don’t believe overeating is a sin, but I do believe gluttony is really associated with laziness.
- Addictive substances – things like alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, etc. are all things that can lead to addiction. I don’t want to debate whether these are right or wrong, but I do think a strong biblical case for their use in moderation can be built. Paul mentions, “all things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by any.”
- Sex – sexual activity practiced outside of God’s defined marriage bed (lust, adultery, promiscuity, pornography, etc. ) are harmful (sinful) activities.
The Root Issue: Being controlled by our physical drives can cause us to act below where God created us to be (Tweet That!). God created all animals with drives, but he created humans in His own image. We are above animals, and should not be driven like animals. Rather we are to control our drives, and not let them control us.
The Biblical Solution: Fasting. Regular fasting of food, sex, entertainment and other things our body craves will help us keep these drives in check. Daily disciplines. Forming daily habits of reading our Bibles and praying can also help us over come these drives. When we learn to tell ourselves “no” and do what we want to do vs what we crave – then we win.
The Pride of Life
The third item in the list deals with pride. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about a job well done. A nicely mown lawn, a clean house and a great job on a project are all good things. I believe God intended us to gain pleasure from our work. That said, pride can take us to a place we don’t want to go. Biblical, this is why Satan fell, because he desired to be on the same level as God. If we begin to change our behavior to gain praise or approval of others, pride probably has a hold of us.
The Root Issue: It causes us to act above where God created us to be. God created us perfect, but mankind fell. We must understand that we are utterly lost and that it is in Christ alone that we are raised up by God.
The Biblical Solution: Helping others in secret. To keep us from being approval seekers, we should often do acts of kindness and charity without receiving credit for it. Allow others to receive credit and/or do those good works in secret.
The Lust of the Eyes (The one I wanted to really talk about)
If the lust of the flesh is equated with the desires of the physical body, then the lust of the eyes could be associated with the desires of our soul. Money, possessions, sparkly things! I don’t think being wealthy is a sin. The Bible called Abraham very rich, and Job’s net worth was about 5.3 million (in today’s terms) just counting his livestock. Some have even said that money is the root of all evil, but that is incorrect. It is the love of money that is harmful.
I personally think the American dream can become the American nightmare. If we allow life to become all about what we can gain, then we’ve missed it. It’s OK to possess things, just don’t let them possess you.
The Root Issue: We are not satisfied with what God has given us. Many search for something to fill an empty hole in their life, but “things” cannot fill that hole. I believe it can only be filled with a relationship with Christ.
The Biblical Solution: Give things away. To keep from being consumed by material things, give stuff away.
I said all that to say this. Biblical, evil is treating others in a harmful and malicious way, and according to the Bible all evil is attributed to the sin of greed (desire for money or possessions)–the lust of the eyes. If we do what’s within our power to encourage and teach people to become giving individuals, then I believe evil will be reduced.
Do I think we can fix this world? Nope. If you’ve read much of the Bible, you understand that life in the end-times will be plagued with evil, but that should not prevent us from living our best. I’ll now answer the question of this article: Where does evil come from? It comes from people who value things above others. It comes from inside us. Cain killed his brother because Able possessed something that Cain did not have. Do not allow the drive for “things” cause you to treat others poorly.
As a pastor, I try to teach these three principles to everyone I know. They are biblical and they work. They will change your life.
- Learn to tell yourself no. Fasting will help you become a stronger person.
- Value giving to others more than receiving from others. It is more blessed to give than receive.
- Do good deeds in secret. Taking no credit or allowing others to take the credit for your work will help you become a humble person.