By Arch Hoercher
Have you ever watched the news or one of the reality crime shows and said to yourself or maybe to others, “I could never do such an evil thing?” “That is pure evil.” Be careful what you think or say because the Bible teaches us that every human heart is capable of the most evil of actions. Romans 3:10-12 (NIV) – “As it is written: ‘There is NO ONE righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” When we watch the villains on some television program, why do we seem to be drawn to them? The villains seem to be more interesting than the hero. We can recognize the villain because that villain lives within each of us. Mark 7:21-23 (NIV) Jesus is speaking – “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” This is not even a complete list, but it does not make anyone feel very good about themselves.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” There is no evil that has been committed on this earth by some individual that we ourselves are not capable of committing. Since the original sin of Adam and Eve, the seeds of evil have been planted in every person’s heart. Before we can address the evil of the world, the evil within each of us must be addressed first.
There is good news. There is an answer to the evil that exists in every human heart. That answer is Jesus Christ and His righteousness. The dictionary defines righteousness as “acting in accord with divine or moral law, being free from guilt or sin, and being morally right or justifiable”. The bad news is that this righteousness cannot be obtained on our own. There is nothing that we can do on our own or no religious ritual that can be performed that will make us righteous.
How then can I become righteous? How can I overcome the evil that is within me? The answer is both simple and complex. The answer has nothing to do with us but everything to do with Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV) – “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us ALL our sins, having CANCELED the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the POWERS and AUTHORITIES, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
When Jesus died on the cross, EVERYTHING changed. By dying on the cross Jesus took all our sin upon Himself. Our only requirement is that we believe in Jesus and all that He did for us and ask His forgiveness and trust in Him from that moment on. When we do this, not only are all our sins forgiven but we receive His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) – “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Pastor Erwin Lutzer gave a wonderful illustration of what happens when we believe in Jesus Christ and what He did for us and ask His forgiveness and repent of our sins. “Imagine a book entitled The Life and Times of Jesus Christ. It contains all the perfections of Christ: the works He did, His holy obedience, His purity, His right motives. A beautiful book indeed. Then imagine another book, The Life and Times of Arch Hoercher. It contains all of my sins, immorality, broken promises, and betrayal of friends. It would contain sinful thoughts, mixed motives, and acts of disobedience. Finally, imagine Christ taking both books and stripping them of their covers. Then He takes the contents of His own book and slips it between the covers of my book. We pick up the book to examine it. The title reads, The Life and Times of Arch Hoercher. We open the book and turn the pages and find no sins listed. All that we see is a long list of perfections, obedience, moral purity, and perfect love. The book is so beautiful that even God adores it.”
Would you like to eliminate the evil that lives within you? Go to Jesus and ask His forgiveness and confess your sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9 (NIV). If you have done this, you are now an adopted child of God and the Holy Spirit will come to reside within you. Do your best to live by His Word and the life Jesus demonstrated to us in His Word. The closer you get to live and think as Jesus Christ, the more your heart will be filled with joy and love and will be unburdened.
Now that you have experienced God’s forgiveness and grace, how do you treat others who are believers like yourself or still have the “Evil within them”? To live this way requires work and the influence of the Holy Spirit that lives within you, but it is how we should live to be a witness to the God who forgave you. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”