This week’s memory verse:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Romans 12:9 ESV
evil… adjective 1 a: morally reprehensible: sinful, wicked b. arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct
–Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.)
Evil. Sin-full. These are thoroughly opposed to God’s love. And to love evil is no love at all.
Love does not rejoice at wrong doing, finds no joy in unrighteousness, does not delight in evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, does not rejoice about injustice.
Love finds no joy or pleasure in unrighteousness in thought or deed. If God’s law can be reduced to, “Love God. Love others.” then anything outside His law is unrighteous, unlawful, evil, and completely unloving.
Evil entered the world when Adam and Eve fell for the temptation of the serpent to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sin not only entered the world, but our hearts.
The enemy lied in the garden to open the door for evil, and continues to entice us with lies. The lies deceive us regarding God’s character and who we are before Him.
Read Psalm 36:1-4
What lies do you see the wicked believing?
Which lie rests at the heart of evil?
The wicked believe God is not to be feared. They believe no one sees what they do and they will get away with whatever they plot. Those set on sin see no reason to reject evil. But the lie at the heart of evil is there is no need to fear the Lord. No need to fear the consequences of evil. The liar’s greatest lie is, there is no God.
With the belittling of God in the eyes of His creation anything goes. We become magnified in our own sight and our broken reason rules the day.
With the eating of the fruit from the forbidden tree, we have made ourselves the ones who define what’s good and what’s evil.
Read Isaiah 5:20-24
Who are these Woes for? What have they done?
What have they rejected?
What will be their end?
Having fallen for the lies of the enemy they call good evil and evil good, darkness light and light darkness, sweet bitter and bitter sweet. They rejected God’s law and despise His Word. And they have no clue of what is waiting for them in eternity.
Love does not delight in evil. The enemy with his lies has made us believe the desires of our flesh are good while God’s ways are evil.
Serial killers claiming victim after victim… evil.
Trafficking tiny girls for sex… evil.
Hating another because of their skin color… evil.
Eating fruit from the wrong tree… not so evil.
When I think of evil I think of the horrible crimes committed against humanity. And when I compare it to the first sin I think, “What’s the big deal?” Only it was a big deal, actually the biggest deal, and it was evil. There’s no evil ranking when it comes to sin because God doesn’t look at it the way I do.
When evil is revealed in me, I too attempt to cover it with fig leaves and head for the bushes. No one wants to admit it. No one wants to face the music. Sin is evil, and that’s that!
Loving God means accepting when I’m left to my own devices evil happens. Because all the good inside me, is only because His Spirit has taken up residence in my heart. Were it not for this I am capable of much evil.
I’ve known it for years and it has made all the difference when it comes to loving others. Because realizing my own evil potential helps me to understand another’s. It keeps me from prideful judging and opens the door for me to love them more and more.
Read Galatians 5:19-23
What are the works of the flesh?
What is the fruit of the Spirit?
How do flesh and Spirit compare to one another?
Read 1Corinthians 13:4-7
This is the passage of Scripture we’ve been soaking in this summer. Do you see overlap between the description of love and the fruit of the Spirit? Why do you think that is?
Now, look back to your list of the works of the flesh and consider what you know of the world, list ways the world delights in evil?
How many evils do you delight in?
The change in me was something I never expected when I began walking with Him. I was actually shocked when I realized what happened without any effort on my part. Things changed which I didn’t even know needed changing.
A movie was coming on television I really liked, I looked forward to it starting. Not too far into it I was appalled! I turned it off and said, “I can’t believe I used to like this movie!”
As I thought about my new-found aversion to one of my favorite films, I realized the unseen work of the Spirit was the cause. It was definitely one of the evils I used to delight in. My taste in books and entertainment has changed. There are evils I no longer delight in.
Yet, I continue to wonder what other “delightful” evils are lurking in my life. What will He refine out of me next? I know there’s something, because I still live in the flesh, and at times operate from it. More times than I care to admit.
Sin is a broad category. A broad road leading to destruction.
- Sexual immorality
- (Go ahead, keep adding!)
Everything about sin is unloving. Sin separates us from the One who is Love and makes us incapable of love. He so hates the state of His broken creation – all the lies, all the sin – He came to die, making the way for us to not only live, but love.
Sin is one of the hazards of living in a broken world, carrying around a Holy Spirit in corrupt flesh and bones. We will fall. Again and again. We will fail. But the danger comes when we look forward to, find joy in, what He calls evil.
He came to open our eyes to the truth, bringing light into our darkness.
Once we see the light, know the truth, all the evil in the world can frustrate, confuse, and anger. Sometimes it feels overwhelming and we hide away. Sometimes it stirs up anger and we feel we have to do something about it. Give them what they deserve. But what is the right response?
Read Psalm 37:1-11
How are we to respond to all the evil in the world?
List the difference in the outcomes for the wicked vs the righteous.
As we wait for the inevitable outcomes of good and evil we are called to trust in God. Wait patiently on Him to take care of the evil. We are not called to isolate ourselves in fear and despair, we are to continue to do good, live in our communities, and make faithfulness our friend. If we take matters into our own hands, we become the same as they are: Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
As Creator, defining evil is God’s privilege, not ours. He alone determines, judges, what is good and what is bad. Apart from the work of His Spirit in our lives we are unable to judge anything correctly.
Read Luke 6:37-38
Create a short list. What does this Scripture tell us to do? Not to do?
How will we be measured?
As you answered the question, what was your first response? What emotion rises up? How have you judged others lately?
God alone is the Judge. To make ourselves judge over what belongs to God is just as bad. We will make unjust judgments. We tend to justify our own behavior while condemning the same in someone else. He alone sees the heart and judges correctly.
Imagine God judging you the way you judge others. What would your judgment be?
What about someone who has wronged you or a loved one? Do you delight in the thought of evil happening to them? Have you spoken the words, “What comes around, goes around!”?
Love does not delight in evil in any way. Jesus died for each of us. He covered our sins and our enemy’s sins. When we shoot arrows of judgment, they are destined to return and hit us in the back side.
Without a proper fear of the Lord, a right understanding of who God is and who we are before Him, without surrendering to the Holy Spirit, we will do evil, and even find delight in it at times. It is simply who we are as broken sin-full people. From doing whatever it takes to get what we want to making judgments of what’s good and evil, we will do it badly.
To love God is to allow Him to deal with those who delight in evil. To genuinely love others in an evil world requires trusting Him as we continue to do good despite what everyone else is doing.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21 ESV
Lord, create in me a clean heart. A heart free from sin and darkness. A heart able to recognize Your good and the world’s evil. A heart free of vengeance and judgment. A heart satisfied with Your judgments, sovereignty, and promises.
This week’s spiritual discipline:
This will be a tough one. A discipline you might choose to skip because it’s just too painful. It is possible you’ve tried it in the past and given up. We encourage you to try again. This week, we pray for our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. …”
Matthew 5:43-45 ESV
Think of the one you often judge, even find yourself wishing evil on. What did they do to cause you pain?
Maybe the pain is fresh, or you’ve been holding on to it for some time now. Is it time to let it go? Give it to the One who heals our souls?
Ask God to reveal to you the condition of your enemy’s heart. Pray God would open your eyes to the wounds and pain they feel, the brokenness in their lives.
Now pray. Diligently pray for them. Pray through your pain, your unforgiveness, your judgment. Pray… with or without words.
Questions for the Summer Soak journal:
Did you practice the spiritual discipline this week? If so, what insight did you receive?
If not, what kept you from praying for your enemy?
What unforgiveness are you holding on to that keeps you from loving?
What evil did you recognize in yourself?