Moral evil is wrong done to others, and it can exist even when unaccompanied by external action. Murder is an evil action, but it has its start with the moral evil of hatred in the heart (Matthew 5:21–22). Committing adultery is evil, but so is the moral evil of lust in the heart (Matthew 5:27–28). Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, those 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” (Mark 7:20–23).
Those who fall into evil behavior usually start slowly. Paul shows the tragic progression into more and more evil in Romans 1. It starts with refusing to glorify God or give thanks to Him (Romans 1:21), and it ends with God giving them over to a “depraved mind” and allowing them to be “filled with every kind of wickedness” (verses 28–29).
Those who practice evil are in Satan’s trap and are slaves to sin: “Opponents [of the Lord’s servant] must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25–26; see also John 8:34). Only by the grace of God can we be set free.
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