* Avoiding evil

Satan used a sincere motive to tempt Eve: “You will become just like God.”  It wasn’t evil of Eve to want to be like God.  To become more like God is humanity’s highest goal.  It is what we are supposed to do.  But Satan misled Eve concerning the right way to accomplish this goal.  He told her that she could become more like God by defying God’s authority, by taking God’s place and deciding for herself what was best for her life.  In effect, he told her to become her own god.

But to become like God is not the same as trying to become God.  Rather, it is to reflect his characteristics and to recognize his authority over your life.  Like Eve, we often have a worthy goal but try to achieve it in the wrong way.  We act like a political candidate who pays off an election judge to be “voted” into office.  When he does this, serving the people is no longer his highest goal.

Self-exaltation leads to rebellion against God.  As soon as we begin to leave God out of our plans, we are placing ourselves above him.  This is exactly what Satan wants us to do. (NLT)

Genesis 3:5 – “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it.  You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.”

* – As Christians, we cannot avoid every kind of evil because we live in a sinful world. We can, however, make sure that we don’t give evil a foothold by avoiding tempting situations and concentrating on obeying God. (NLT)

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 – Keep away from every kind of evil.

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.  God, who calls you, is faithful; he will do this.

* Evil exploded with earth’s population growth

Some people believe that the “sons of God” were fallen angels. Others believe this could not have happened and that this phrase refers to the descendants of Seth who intermarried with Cain’s descendants. Either way, the result would have weakened the good influence of the faithful and increased moral depravity in the world, resulting in an explosion of evil. (NLT)

Genesis 6:1-4 – When the human population began to grow rapidly on the earth, the sons of God saw the beautiful women of the human race and took any they wanted as their wives. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, they will live no more than 120 years.”

In those days, and even afterward, giants lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with human women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes mentioned in legends of old.

* Lot absorbed evil because of his surroundings

How could any father give his daughters to be ravished by a mob of perverts, just to protect two strangers? Possibly Lot was scheming to save both the girls and the visitors, hoping the girls’ fiancés would rescue them or that the homosexual men would be disinterested in the girls and simply go away. Although it was the custom of the day to protect guests at any cost, this terrible suggestion reveals how deeply sin had been absorbed into Lot’s life. He had become hardened to evil acts in an evil city. Whatever Lot’s motives were, we see here an illustration of Sodom’s terrible wickedness—a wickedness so great that God had to destroy the entire city. (NLT)

Genesis 19:8 – “Look—I have two virgin daughters. Do with them as you wish, but leave these men alone, for they are under my protection.”

* Would God destroy the righteous with the wicked in Sodom?

Was God being unfair to the people of Sodom? Did he really plan to destroy the innocent with the guilty? On the contrary, God’s fairness stood out. (1) He agreed to spare the entire city if only 10 innocent people lived there. (2) He showed great mercy toward Lot, apparently the only man in the city who had any kind of relationship with him (and even that was questionable). (3) He showed great patience toward Lot, almost forcing him to leave Sodom before it was destroyed. Remember God’s patience when you are tempted to think he is unfair. Even the most godly people deserve his justice. We should be glad God doesn’t direct his justice toward us as he did toward Sodom. (NLT)

Genesis 18:25 – Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”

* Wrong to return evil for evil

In seeking revenge against Schechem, Simeon and Levi lied, stole, and murdered.  Their desire for justice was right, but their ways of achieving it were wrong.  Because of their sin, their father cursed them with his dying breath.  Generations later, their descendants lost the part of the Promised Land allotted to them.  When tempted to return evil for evil, leave revenge to God and spare yourself the dreadful consequences of sin.  (NLT)

Genesis 34:30-31 – Afterward Jacob said to Levi and Simeon, “You have made me stink among all the people of this land–among all the Canaanites and Perizzites.  We are so few that they will come and crush us.  We will all be killed!”

“Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?” they retorted angrily.

* What about the “lesser of two evils”?

The brothers were worried about bearing the guilt of Joseph’s death.  Judah suggested an option that was not right but would leave them guiltless of murder.  Sometimes we jump at a solution because it is the lesser of two evils, but it still is not the right action to take.  When someone proposes a seemingly workable solution, first ask, “Is it right?”(NLT)

Genesis 37:26-27 – Judah said to the others, “What can we gain by kill our brother?  that would just give us a guilty conscience.  Let’s sell Joseph to those Ishmaelite traders.  Let’s not be responsible for his death; after all, he is our brother!”  And his brothers agreed.

* God brings good even from evil

God brought good from the brothers’ evil deed, Potiphar’s wife’s false accusation, the cup-bearer’s neglect, and seven years of famine.  The experiences in Joseph’s life taught him that God brings good from evil for those who trust him.  Do you trust God enough to wait patiently for him to bring good out of bad situations?  You can trust him because, as Joseph learned, God can overrule people’s evil intentions to bring about his intended results.  (NLT)

Genesis 50:20 – As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil.  He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people.

* Find little ways to act against evil

Moses’ mother knew how wrong it would be to destroy her child.  But there was little she could do to change Pharaoh’s new law.  Her only alternative was to hide the child and later place him in a tiny papyrus basket on the river.  God used her courageous act to place her son, the Hebrew of his choice, in the house of Pharaoh.  Do you sometimes feel surrounded by evil and frustrated by how little you can do about it?  When faced with evil, look for ways to act against it.  Then trust God to use your effort, however small it seems, in his war against evil. (NLT)

* Occult is rooted in evil

Everyone is interested in what the future holds, and we often look to others for guidance.  But God warned about looking to the occult for advice.  Mediums and psychics were outlawed because God was not the source of their information.  At best, occult practitioners are fakes whose predictions cannot be trusted.  At worst, they are in contact with evil spirits and are thus extremely dangerous.  We don’t need to look to the occult for information about the future.  God has given us the Bible so that we may obtain all the information we need–and the bible’s teaching is trustworthy. (NLT)

Leviticus 20:6 -“If any among the people are unfaithful by consulting and following mediums or psychics, I will turn against them and cut them off from the community.”

Holiness is separation from evil

There is more to this chapter than eating right.  These verses provide a key to understanding all the laws and regulations in Leviticus.  God wanted his people to be holy (set apart, different, unique), just as he is holy.  He knew they had only two options: to be separate and holy, or to compromise with their pagan neighbors and become corrupt.  That is why he called them out of idolatrous Egypt and set them apart as a unique nation, dedicated to worshiping him alone and leading moral lives.  That is also why he designed laws and restrictions to help them remain separate–both socially and spiritually–from the wicked pagan nations they would encounter in Canaan.  Christians also are called to be holy.  Like the Israelites, we should remain spiritually separate from the world’s wickedness, even though unlike them, we rub shoulders with unbelievers every day.  It is no easy task to be holy in an unholy world, but God doesn’t ask you to accomplish this on your own.  Through the death of his Son, “you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” (NLT)

Leviticus 11:44-45 – After all, I, the Lord, am your God.  You must be holy because I am holy.  So do not defile yourselves by touching any of these animals that scurry along the ground.  I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God.  You must therefore be holy because I am holy.

* Never side with evil

The Israelites were told not even to touch the belongings of the wicked rebels.  In this case, doing so would have shown sympathy to their cause and agreement with their principles.  Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were directly challenging Moses and God.  Moses clearly stated what God intended to do to the rebels.  He did this so that everyone would have to choose between following Korah or following Moses, God’s chosen leader.  When God asks us to make a fundamental choice between siding with wicked people or siding with him, we should not hesitate but commit ourselves to be 100 percent on the Lord’s side. (NLT)

Numbers 16:26 – “Quick!”  he told the people.  “Get away from the tents of these wicked men, and don’t touch anything that belongs to them.  If you do, you will be destroyed for their sins.”

* Destroy evil in your life

God told Moses that before the Israelites settled in the Promised Land they should drive out the wicked inhabitants and destroy their idols.  In Colossians 3, Paul encourages us to live as Christians in the same manner: throwing away our old way of living and moving ahead into our new life of obedience to God and faith in Jesus Christ.  Like the Israelites moving into the Promised Land, we can destroy the wickedness in our lives, or we can settle down and live with it.  To move in and possess the new life, we must drive out the sinful thoughts and practices to make room for the new. (NLT)

Numbers 33:50-53 – While they were camped near the Jordan River on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: ‘When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there.  You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish all their pagan shrines.  Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy.

* Don’t become curious about evil practices

God did not want the Israelites even to ask about the pagan religious surrounding them.  Idolatry completely permeated the land of Canaan.  It was too easy to get drawn into the subtle temptations of seemingly harmless practices.  Sometimes curiosity can cause us to stumble.  Knowledge of evil is harmful if the evil becomes too tempting to resist.  To resist curiosity about harmful practices shows discretion and obedience. (NLT)

Deuteronomy 12:30-31 – do not be trapped into following their example in worshiping their gods.  Do not say, ‘How do these nations worship their gods?  I want to follow their example.”  You must not do this to the Lord your God.  these nations have committed many detestable acts that the Lord hates, all in the name of their gods.  They have even burned their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.

Why God doesn’t punish all evil immediately

Abimelech was the opposite of what God wanted in a judge, but it was three years before God moved against him, fulfilling Jotham’s parable.  Those three years must have seemed like forever to Jotham.  Why wasn’t Abimelech punished sooner for his evil ways?

We are not alone when we wonder why evil seems to prevail.  God promises to deal with sin, but in his time, not ours.  Actually it is good news that God doesn’t punish us immediately because we all have sinned and deserve God’s punishment.  God, in his mercy, often spares us from immediate punishment and allows us time to turn from our sins and turn to him in repentance.  Trusting God for justice means (1) we must first recognize our own sins and repent, and (2) we may face a difficult time of waiting for the wicked to be punished.  But in God’s time, all evil will be destroyed. (NLT)

Judges 9:22-24 – After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years, God stirred up trouble between Abimelech and the people of Shechem, and they revolted.  In the events that followed, God punished Abimelech and the men of Shechem for murdering Gideon’s seventy sons.

* God is slow to get angry, but when he is ready to punish, even the earth trembles.  Often people avoid God because they see evildoers in the world and hypocrites in the church.  They don’t realize that because God is slow to anger, he gives his true followers time to share his love and truth with evildoers.  But judgment will come; God will not allow sin to go unchecked forever.  When people wonder why God doesn’t punish evil immediately, help them remember that if he did, none of us would be here.  We can all be thankful that God gives people time to turn to him. (NLT)

Nahum 1:3 – The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished.  He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm.  The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.

* How Saul could be filled with the Spirit and later do such evil things

How could Saul be so filled with the Spirit and yet later commit such evil acts? Throughout the Old Testament, God’s Spirit “came upon” a person temporarily so that God could use him or her for great acts. This happened frequently to Israel’s judges when they were called by God to rescue the nation. This was not always a permanent, abiding influence, but sometimes a temporary manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Yet, at times in the Old Testament, the Spirit even came upon unbelievers to enable them to do unusual tasks. The Holy Spirit gave the person power to do what God asked, but it did not always produce the other fruits of the Spirit, such as self-control. Saul, in his early years as king, was a different person as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in him. But as Saul’s power grew, so did his pride. After a while he refused to seek God; the Spirit left him, and his good attitude melted away. (NLT)

1 Samuel 10:6 – At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you with power, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person.

* No evil too great for repentance

Ahab was more wicked than any other king of Israel, but when he repented in deep humility, God took notice and reduced his punishment.  The same Lord who was merciful to Ahab wants to be merciful to you.  No matter how evil you have been, it is never too late to humble yourself, turn to God, and ask for forgiveness. (NLT)

1 Kings 21:29 – “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before me?  Because he has done this, I will not do what I promised during his lifetime.  It will happen to his sons; I will destroy all his descendants.”

* Must admit your evil potential

When Elisha told Hazael he would sin greatly, Hazael protested that he would never do that sort of thing.  He did not acknowledge his personal potential for evil.  In our enlightened society, it is easy to think we are above gross sin and can control our actions.  We think that we would never sink so low.  Instead, we should take a more biblical and realistic look at ourselves and admit our sinful potential.  Then we will ask for God’s strength to resist such evil. (NLT)

2 Kings 8:12-13 – “What’s the matter, my lord?” Hazael asked him.  Elisha replied, “I know the terrible things you will do to the people of Israel.  You will burn their fortified cities, kill their young men, dash their children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women!”

Then Hazael replied, “How could a nobody like me ever accomplish such a great feat?”  But Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you are going to be the king of Aram.”

* Evil permeated northern kingdom

Jeroboam II had no devotion to God, yet under his warlike policies and skillful administration, Israel enjoyed more national power and material prosperity than at any time since the days of Solomon.  The prophets Amos and Hosea, however, tell us what was really happening with the kingdom.  Jeroboam’s administration ignored policies of justice and fairness.  As a result, the rich became richer, and the poor, poorer.  The people became self-centered, relying more on their power, security, and possessions than on God.  The poor were so oppressed that it was hard for them to believe God noticed their plight.  Material prosperity is not always an indication of God’s blessing.  It can also be a result of self-centeredness.  If you are experiencing prosperity, remember that God holds us accountable for how we attain success and how we use our wealth.  Everything we have really belongs to him.  We must use God’s gifts with his interests in mind. (NLT)

2 Kings 14:28 – The rest of the events in the reign of Jeroboam II and all his deeds, including the extent of his power, his wars, and how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.

* How to pray to God about evil

Jabez prayed specifically to be protected from trouble and pain.  We live in a fallen world filled with sin, and it is important to ask God to keep us safe from the unavoidable evil that comes our way.  But we must also avoid evil motives, desires, and actions that begin within us.  Therefore, not only must we seek God’s protection from evil, but we must also ask God to guard our thoughts and actions.  We can begin to utilize his protection by filling our mind with positive thoughts and attitudes. (NLT)

1 Chronicle 4:10 – He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and extend my land!  Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”  And God granted him his request.

* Why do evil persons become wealthy?

If wicked people become wealthy despite their sin, why should we try to be good?  The wicked may seem to get away with sin, but there is a higher Judge and a future judgment.  The final settlement of justice will come, not in this life, but in the next.  What is important is how a person views God in prosperity or poverty, not the prosperity or poverty itself. (NLT)

Job 21:29-33 – But I tell you to ask those who have been around, and they can tell you the truth.  Evil people are spared in times of calamity and are allowed to escape.  No one rebukes them openly.  No one repays them for what they have done.  When they are carried to the grave, an honor guard keeps watch at their tomb.  A great funeral procession goes to the cemetery.  Many pay their respects as the body is laid to rest and the earth gives sweet repose.

* How its effect backfires

When allowed to run its course, evil destroys itself.  Violent people become victims of violence, and liars become victims of others’ deceit.  But in the process, innocent people are hurt.  Sometimes God intervenes and stops evildoers in their tracks in order to protect his followers.  At other times, for reasons known only to him, God allows evil to continue even though innocent people are hurt.  It is during these times that we must ask God to protect us.  Remember that God will execute final justice, although it may not be during our lifetime. (NLT)

Psalm 7:14-16 – The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies.  They dig a pit to trap others and then fall into it themselves.  They make trouble, but it backfires on them.  They plan violence for others, but it falls on their own heads.

* David said that God repays evil to his enemies.  Proverbs 26:27 warns that those who cause trouble will reap trouble.  What we have intended for others may blow up in our own face.  To be honest and straightforward before God and others is simpler, easier, and safer in the long run. (NLT)

Psalm 54:5 – May my enemies’ plans for evil be turned against them.  Do as you promised and put an end to them.

* Why are we upset when evil persons prosper?

Some people succeed in everything they do, and they brag that no one, not even God, can keep them down.  We may wonder why God allows these people to amass great wealth while they despise him as they do.  But why are we upset when the wicked prosper?  Are we angry about the damage they are doing or just jealous of their success?  To answer these questions, we must gain the right perspective on wickedness and wealth.  The wicked will surely be punished because God hates their evil deeds.  Wealth is only temporary.  It is not necessarily a sign of God’s approval on a person’s life; nor is lack of it a sign of God’s disapproval.  Don’t let wealth become your obsession.   (NLT)

Psalm 10:4-6 – These wicked people are too proud to seek God.  They seem to think that God is dead.  Yet they succeed in everything they do,  they do not see your punishment awaiting them.  They pour scorn on all their enemies.  They say to themselves, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us!  We will be free of trouble forever!”

* We’re never alone in our battle against evil

Living for God in a deceitful world can be a difficult and lonely battle.  At one time the great prophet Elijah felt so lonely he wanted to die.  But God told him that there were 7,000 other faithful servants.  We are never alone in our battle against evil.  When you feel alone, seek out other believers for strength and support. (NLT)

Psalm 12:1 – Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!  the faithful have vanished from the earth!

* Can’t get away with evil forever

When you see people succeeding with evil acts, remember that they will not succeed forever.  Their power is only temporary, and God’s very presence can send them scattering in a moment.  God, according to his plan and purpose, will intervene for his people and give the wicked the judgment they deserve.  We should not be dismayed when we see the temporary advantage God’s enemies seem to have. (NLT)

Psalm 21:11 – Although they plot against you, their evil schemes will never succeed.

* Don’t be tempted by wealth of wicked

Two strong themes wind their way through these verses (1) The wicked prosper, leaving godly people wondering why they bother to be good; and (2) the wealth of the wicked looks so inviting that faithful people may wish they could trade places.  But these two themes come to unexpected ends, for the wealth of the wicked suddenly loses its power at death, and the rewards for the godly suddenly take on eternal value.  What seemed like wealth is now waste, and what seemed worthless now lasts forever.  Don’t wish you could trade places with evil people to get their wealth.  One day they will wish they could trade places with you and have your eternal wealth. (NLT)

Psalm 73:1-20 – Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pur.e  But as for me, I came so close to the edge of the cliff!  My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.  For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.  They seem to live such a painless life; their bodies are so healthy and strong.  They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else.  They wear pride like a jeweled necklace, and their clothing is woven of cruelty.  These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for!  They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others.  They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth.  And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words.  “Does God realize what is going on?” they ask.  “Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?”  Look at these arrogant people–enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

Was it for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong?  All I get is trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.  If I had really spoken this way, I would have been a traitor to your people.  So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.  But what a difficult task it is!  Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked.  Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.  In an instant they are destroyed, swept away by terrors.  Their present life is only a dream that is gone when they awake.  When you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life.

* Evil acts begin with evil desires

Evil acts begin with evil desires.  It isn’t enough to ask God to keep you away from temptation, make you stronger, or change your circumstances.  You must ask him to change you on the inside–at the level of your desires. (NLT)

Psalm 141:4 – Don’t let me lust for evil things; don’t let me participate in acts of wickedness.  Don’t let me share in the delicacies of those who do evil.

* Planning evil as bad as doing evil

Plotting to do evil can be as wrong as doing it because what you think determines what you will do.  Left unchecked, wrong desires will lead us to sin.  God wants pure hearts, free from sin, and planning evil brings sinful thoughts into our mind.  Should you say, “Then I might as well go ahead and do it because I’ve already planned it?”  No.  You have sinned in your attitude,  but you have not yet harmed other people.   Stop in your tracks and ask God to forgive you and put you on a different path. (NLT)

Proverbs 24:8 – A person who plans evil will get a reputation as a troublemaker.

* A small amount of evil can destroy us

A spark set to tinder ignites a quick, devouring fire.  God compares the evil deeds of powerful people to a roaring fire that will devour them.  Our life can be destroyed quickly by a small but deadly spark of evil.  What potential “fire hazards” do you need to remove? (NLT)

Isaiah 1:31 – The strongest among you will disappear like burning straw.  Your evil deeds are the spark that will set the straw on fire, and no one will be able to put it out.

* Why does God seem indifferent to evil?

Evil and injustice seem to have the upper hand in the world.  Like Habakkuk, Christians often feel angry and discouraged as they see what goes on.  Habakkuk complained vigorously to God about the situation.  God’s answer to Habakkuk is the same answer he would give us, “If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.”  It isn’t easy to be patient, but it helps to remember that God hates sin even more than we do.  Punishment of sin will certainly come.  As God told Habakkuk, “Wait patiently.”  We must trust God even when we don’t understand why events occur as they do. (NLT)

Habakkuk 2:3 – But these things I plan won’t happen right away.  Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.  If it seem slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed.

* Why do evil people go unpunished?

Habakkuk lived in Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim.  He prophesied between the fall of Nineveh (the capital of Assyria) in 612 B.C. and the Babylonian invasion of Judah in 588 B.C.  With Assyria in disarray, Babylon was becoming the dominant world power.  This book records the prophet’s dialogue with God concerning the questions Why does God often seem indifferent in the face of evil? and Why do evil people seem to go unpunished?  While other prophetic books brought God’s word to people, this brought people’s questions to God.  A “vision” is a message from God. (NLT)

Habakkuk 1:1 – This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received from the Lord in a vision.

* Habakkuk had asked God why evil people prosper while the righteous suffer.  God’s answer: They don’t, not in the long run.  Habakkuk saw his own limitations in contrast to God’s unlimited power and control of all the world’s events.  God is alive and in control of the world and its events.  We cannot see all that God is doing, and we cannot see all that God will do.  But we can be assured that he is God and will do what is right.  Knowing this can give us confidence and hope in a confusing world. (NLT)

Habakkuk 3:19 – The Sovereign Lord is my strength!  He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.

* God sometimes uses evil people to punish evil people

Judah’s forthcoming punishment would be at the hands of the Babylonians.  Habakkuk was appalled that God would use a nation even more wicked than Judah to punish it.  But the Babylonians did not know they were being used by God to help Judah return to him, and Babylon’s pride in its victories would be its downfall.  Evil is self-destructive, and it is never beyond God’s control.  God may use whatever unusual instrument he chooses to correct or punish us.  When we deserve punishment or correction, how can we complain about the kind of “rod” God uses on us? (NLT)

Habakkuk 1:13 – You are perfectly just in this.  But will you, who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up?  Should you be silent while the wicked destroy people who are more righteous than they?

* A small amount of evil affects many

Yeast is put into bread to make it rise, and it takes only a little to affect a whole batch of dough.  Jesus used yeast as an example of how a small amount of evil can affect a large group of people.  The wrong teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees were leading many people astray.  Beware of the tendency to say, “How can this little wrong possibly affect anyone?” (NLT)

Matthew 16:12 – Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about yeast or bread but about the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

* The “sacrilegious object that causes desecration”

What was “the sacrilegious object that causes desecration” mentioned by both Daniel and Jesus? Rather than one specific object, event, or person, it could be seen as any deliberate attempt to mock and deny the reality of God’s presence. Daniel’s prediction came true in 168 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig to Zeus on the sacred Temple altar. Jesus’ words were remembered in A.D. 70 when Titus placed an idol on the site of the burned Temple after destroying Jerusalem. In the end times the Antichrist will set up an image of himself and order everyone to worship it. These are all abominations to God. (NLT)

Matthew 24:15-16 – [Jesus said] “The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place”—reader, pay attention! “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.”

* Final state of the wicked

Eternal punishment takes place in hell (the lake of fire, or Gehenna), the place of punishment after death for all those who refuse to repent.  In the Hebrew, three words were used in connection with eternal punishment.

(1) Sheol, or “the grave,” was used in the Hebrew Old Testament to mean the place of the dead, generally thought to be under the earth.

(2) Hades is the Greek word for the underworld, the realm of the dead.  It is the word used in the New Testament for Sheol.

(3) Gehenna, or hell, was named after the valley of the son of Hinnom near Jerusalem, where children were sacrificed by fire to the pagan gods.  This is the place of eternal fire prepared for the Devil, his angels, and all those who do not believe in God.  This the final and eternal state of the wicked after the resurrection and the Last Judgment.

When Jesus warns against unbelief, he is trying to save us from agonizing punishment. (NLT)

Matthew 25:46 – [Jesus said] “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

* Church won’t shelter you from evil

A man possessed by a demon was in the synagogue where Jesus was teaching.  This man made his way into the place of worship and verbally abused Jesus.  It is naive to think that we will be sheltered from evil in the church.  Satan is happy to invade our presence wherever and whenever he can.  But Jesus’ authority is much greater than Satan’s; and where Jesus is present, demons cannot stay for long. (NLT)

Luke 4:33 – Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon began shouting at Jesus

* Conquering fear of evil

Evil permeates our world, and it is no wonder that people are often fearful.  But Jesus’ power is far greater than Satan’s.  The first step toward conquering fear of evil is to recognize Jesus’ authority and power.  He has overcome all evil, including Satan himself. (NLT)

Luke 4:36 – Amazed the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess!  Even evil spirits obey him and flee at his command!”

* Jesus’ ultimate victory over evil

Why didn’t Jesus just destroy these demons–or send them to the Bottomless Pit?  Because the time for such work had not yet come.  He healed many people of the destructive effects of demon possession but he did not yet destroy demons.  The same question could be asked today–why doesn’t Jesus top all the evil in the world?  His time for that has not yet come.  But it will come.  The book of Revelation portrays the future victory of Jesus over Satan, his demons, and all evil. (NLT)

Luke 8:33 – So the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake, where they drowned.

* Ambition can lead to evil

Both Annas and Caiaphas had been high priests.  Annas was Israel’s high priest from A.D. 6 to 15, when he was deposed by Roman rulers.  Caiaphas, Annas’s son-in-law, was appointed high priest from A.D. 18 to 36/37.  According to Jewish law, the office of high priest was held for life.  Many Jews, therefore, still considered Annas the high priest and still called him by that title.  But although Annas retained much authority among the Jews, Caiaphas made the final decisions.

Both Caiaphas and Annas cared more about their political ambitions than about their responsibility to lead the people to God.  Though religious leaders, they had become evil.  As the nation’s spiritual leaders, they should have been sensitive to God’s revelation.  They should have known that Jesus was the Messiah about whom the Scriptures spoke, and they should have pointed the people to him.  But when deceitful men and women pursue evil, they want to eliminate all opposition.  Instead of honestly evaluating Jesus’ claims based on their knowledge of Scripture, these religious leaders sought to further their own selfish ambitions and were even willing to kill God’s Son, if that’s what it took, to do it. (NLT)

John 18:13 – First they took him to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

* Evil is always trying to push Holy Spirit out of our lives

Paul describes the two forces fighting within us–the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature (our evil desires or inclinations that stem from our body).  Paul is not saying that these forces are equal–the Holy Spirit is infinitely stronger.  But if we rely on our own wisdom, we will make wrong choices.  If we try to follow the Spirit by our own human effort, we will fail.  Our only way to freedom from our evil desires is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. (NLT)

Galatians 5:17 – The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.

* Don’t be silent against evil

It is important to avoid the “worthless deeds of evil and darkness” (any pleasure or activity that results in sin), but we must go even further.  Paul instructs us to expose these deeds, because our silence may be interpreted as approval.  God needs people who will take a stand for what is right.  Christians must lovingly speak out for what is true and right. (NLT)

Ephesians 5:10-14 – Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them.  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.  But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are.  And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds.  This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

* How to withstand Satan’s attacks

In the Christian life we battle against rulers and authorities (the powerful evil forces of fallen angels headed by Satan, who is a vicious fighter).  To withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of his armor.  Paul is not only giving this counsel to the church, the body of Christ, but to all individuals within the church.  The whole body needs to be armed.  As you do battle against the “mighty powers of darkness,” fight in the strength of the church, whose power comes from the Holy Spirit. (NLT)

Ephesians 6:10-17 – A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.  For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.  In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

* Beneath the surface of the routine of daily life, a fierce struggle among invisible spiritual powers is being waged.  Our main defense is prayer that God will protect us from the evil one and that he will strengthen us.  The following guidelines can help you prepare for and survive satanic attacks: (1) Take the threat of spiritual attack seriously; (2) pray for strength and help from God; (3) study the Bible to recognize Satan’s style and tactics; (4) memorize Scripture so it will be a source of help no matter where you are; (5) associate with those who speak the truth; and (6) practice what you are taught by spiritual leaders. (NLT)

2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 – Finally, dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to pray for us.  Pray first that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.  Pray, too, that we will be saved from wicked and evil people, for not everyone believes in the Lord.  But the Lord is faithful; he will make you strong and guard you from the evil one.

* Powerful evil forces work against us

These who are not “flesh and blood” are demons over whom Satan has control.  They are not mere fantasies –they are very real.  We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church.  When we believe in Christ, these beings become our enemies, and they try every device to turn us away from him and back to sin.  Although we are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ returns, because Satan is constantly battling against all who are on the Lord’s side.  We need supernatural power to defeat Satan, and God has provided this by giving us his Holy Spirit within us and his armor surrounding us.  If you feel discouraged, remember Jesus’ words to Peter “Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (NLT)

Ephesians 6:12 – For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

* Learning to see good in midst of evil

Some people see good all around them, while others see nothing but evil.  What is the difference?  Our souls become filters through which we perceive goodness or evil.  The pure (those who have Christ in control of their lives) learn to see goodness and purity even in this evil word.  But corrupt and unbelieving people find evil in everything because their evil minds and hearts color even the good they see and hear.  Whatever you choose to fill your mind with will affect the way you think and act.  Turn your thoughts to God and his Word, and you will discover more and more goodness, even in this evil world.  A mind filled with good has little room for what is evil. (NLT)

Titus 1:15 – Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure,  But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled.

* People usually slip into evil gradually

These people were so hard-hearted that even plagues did not drive them to God.  People don’t usually fall into immorality and evil suddenly–they slip into it a little bit at a time until, hardly realizing what has happened, they are irrevocably mired in their wicked ways.  Any person who allows sin to take root in his or her life will end up in this predicament.  Temptation entertained today becomes sin tomorrow, a habit the next day, then death and separation from God forever.  To think you could never become this evil is the first step toward a hard heart.  Acknowledge your need to confess your sin before God. (NLT)

Revelations 9:20-21 – But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to turn from their evil deeds  They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood–idols that neither see nor hear nor walk!  And they did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their immorality or their thefts.

* Keeping away from the world’s evil system

Here are some suggestions: 1) People must always be more important than products. – 2) Keep away from pride in your own programs, plans, and successes. — 3) Remember that God’s will and Word must never be compromised. — 4) People must always be considered above the making of money. — 5) Do what is right, no matter what the cost. – 6) Be involved in businesses that provide worthwhile products or services—not just things that feed the world’s desires. (NLT)

May you find comfort, encouragement, guidance, hope, inspiration, love, and peace – https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/. May you also find answers to your question(s) through the Scriptures that address every situation you face, and help with your problems: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-a-g/ ; https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-h-n/ ; https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-o-u/; https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-v-z/

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