Evil Walks

Skull with red eyes

AC/DC

Who remembers the album that caused the Australian group, AC/DC, to finally explode in America?

That’s right…”Back in Black.”

I remember it because I was a normal rock-and-roll loving, 16 year-old teenager when it came out. Nothing like it ever was released before and, I would argue, nothing equal has come out since…even from AC/DC.

Now, does anyone remember what the next new studio album from AC/DC was after that?

“For Those About to Rock.”

As a rock release, it is near as good as its predecessor…and it has a song that came to mind when the subject of this sermon came to me. The tune is “Evil Walks” and its chorus is:

Evil walks behind you

Evil sleeps beside you

Evil talks arouse you

Evil walks behind you

Two recent incidents have reminded me of how true the overall thought behind those verses is…which is that we are surrounded by evil.

A Trial and a Massacre

A Trial

The first incident actually happened back in May of 2017…but intersected my life when I was chosen for jury duty last month.

On May 20, 2017, a man in his late 40s, who had desired an intimate relationship with a 20 year-old woman (who he first met when she was 15), snapped after running some errands with her. It started with him getting angry when she wouldn’t tell him who she was texting…and he threw her smartphone out of her car window.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

He then proceeded to miss the exit they should have taken, went into an empty parking lot in an industrial section of Aurora near I-70 (it was a Saturday), got out of his seat, walked around the SUV, opened her door…

And deeply cut the right side of her neck with a razor blade.

Before he was done he had also cut the left side of her neck seven times along with her left wrist.

He also tried to kill himself.

With her 18 month old baby in the back seat witnessing the whole thing.

Evil.

Does evil walk behind you?

Yes it does.

The reason it ended up being “only” attempted first degree murder is that after cutting himself and taking pills, he went unconscious first…and she was able to use his phone to call 911.

She should have died. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out angels somehow saved her.

As she said to the dispatcher who answered her call, she was bleeding out.

Both lived. Thank God it was a failed murder suicide and that with his conviction for first degree attempted murder, first degree assault, and two counts of second degree kidnapping, he will be off the streets for a very long time. Sentencing is in April.

A Massacre

The second incident is indelibly burned into the minds of all aware of news in February. A 19 year-old student, long known to be a danger, went into his former high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and killed 17.

I could go into more specifics, but most of you are probably already aware of just how troubled this young man was…

And of the carnage he created.

Does evil walk behind you?

Yes it does.

Does Evil Exist?

We confidently say that evil exists, but does the world really believe that? Going again to my Mac’s dictionary, evil’s noun form is defined as:

profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force: the world is stalked by relentless evil | good and evil in eternal opposition.

• a manifestation of this, especially in people’s actions: the evil that took place last Thursday.

• something which is harmful or undesirable: the various social evils of our modern world.

“Especially when regarded as a supernatural force.’

I think most people believe there is “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity”…especially in those who disagree with their worldview…

But by divorcing evil from its supernatural foundations, they are falling into chat Charles Baudelaire identified:

La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.

Or, in English (based on Google Translate):

The most beautiful trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.

Who is right?

Searching for the word “evil” in the English Standard Version I got 531 results in 494 verses. Sure, it is used in different contexts, but it’s pretty clear the Holy Spirit behind Scripture believes in evil.

Does evil walk behind you? Does evil, as a supernatural force, walk behind you?

Yes it does.

It’s in Our Nature

Has anyone heard the story of the frog and the scorpion?

Short version is that a scorpion wants to get to the other side of the river, and asks a frog to take him. The frog is smart enough to know how dangerous the scorpion is and tells him he won’t because the scorpion will kill him. The scorpion counters by saying he won’t kill the frog because, if he did, he would drown and die too. That’s pretty convincing.

So, the frog takes him and half way across the scorpion stings him.

The frog exclaimed, “Why did you do that?! Now we are both going to die!”

The scorpion replied, “It’s in my nature.”

Remembering that, let’s look at some scriptures and see what we can learn about evil.

5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5-7).

Anyone know when that was?

Just before God wiped out almost all of mankind with a flood.

So, relatively early in his history, man already had reached a point where “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” But, God did save Noah, a righteous man, and his family…and after the flood we are told this from Genesis 8:21:

21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

Did anything change when it comes to human hearts after the cleansing of evil by the flood?

No, God still said that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

Perhaps, however, after multiple millennia things got better. Speaking of at least some in the first century, Paul tells us this:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:28-32).

Hmmm…sure, Paul didn’t say that was true of everyone when he wrote it…but if you look at how the section it is in starts in Romans 2, it sure doesn’t seem terribly limited.

And…based on what you see “behind you”…if I were to say that about the modern world…

Would you agree?

I would. There seemed a time where Christian morality combined with improvements in living conditions led to an improvement in the hearts of men and women, but now?

And I am not just talking the horrendous acts that I started this sermon with. Look at what is popular in movies and games. Look at how people treat each other in social media. Look at what happens in every part of the world where totalitarianism is allowed to flourish.

Does evil walk behind you?

Yes it does.

We are like the scorpion.

It’s in our nature.

How Should We Respond?

Evil.

Driven by a spiritual malaise.

Walks behind us.

So, what should we do?

First, a couple of obvious things that I won’t make you look up Scripture to prove.

#1: Believe it exists, and in spiritual and supernatural form. I’ve already basically proven this in this sermon or previous ones.

#2: Pray. The reason I’m not going to prove this today is because we should pray to God about everything important. The existence of evil, and ridding the universe of it, is important. Agreed?

However, what else can we learn from the Bible?

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9).

#3: Abhor what is evil.

“Of course I abhor evil Alan!”

If you do…if we do…then why do we sin so much still?

If you do…if we do…then why do we watch movies or listen to music that glorifies it?

If you do…if we do…then why do we ignore the sins of politicians who agree with our worldview?

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

We all fall short in abhorring sin. Let’s ask the Lord for forgiveness, wisdom, and strength. Next…

20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22).

Another obvious one, eh?

As Nancy Reagan might say.

Just say no.

#4: Abstain from every form of evil.

If we follow #3 and abhor evil, #4 should come naturally.

Murder is evil. Abstain from it.

White lies are evil. Abstain from them.

Abstain from every form of evil.

Finally, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 5:13:

13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

#5: Purge evil from the church.

Whether that evil is ministers and denominations that embrace what God calls an abomination (and that is not a single-item list).

Or leaders who are either kept after sexual misconduct or restored too quickly.

Or Christians who besmirch the gospel for political expediency.

Or…

Again, the list could continue.

We must purge evil form the church. It hurts our witness. It hurts us.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we be overly judgmental…and I am personally sick of people (Christian and non-Christian) who tell me I have to react to a politician a certain way or I have sold my soul.

But when a denomination, a public Christian leader, or someone in this congregation clearly crosses the line, we must speak and…

Purge evil from the church.

A Choice.

As God did through Moses to the Israelites, I now give you a choice:

11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil (Deuteronomy 30:11-15).

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.”

Choose life.

Choose Good.

Abhor evil.

Abstain from evil.

Purge evil from the church.

Choose Jesus!


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