THE PROGRESSION OF EVIL

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 21 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)


"But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of knowing of whom thou hast learned them." II Timothy 3:10-14

We already know that there is a difference between sin and evil. In this chapter let me give you seven statements concerning the progression of evil.

1. We know that we all are sinners. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

2. Nobody wants to become an evil person.

3. We cannot live above sin, but we can live above evil.

4. Becoming an evil person is like becoming addicted to any sin. Sin is the drink. Evil is the alcoholic. Evil is the result of constant sin. Nobody chooses to be a drug addict. A person chooses to take drugs one time. Nobody chooses to be an alcoholic. A person chooses to take one drink. Nobody chooses to be "hot headed." A person chooses to lose his temper one time. Becoming an evil person is to be addicted to evil like one of these is addicted to his sin.

5. As with all of the other sins, becoming an evildoer does not happen overnight. A person does not become a drug addict overnight. It takes a long time of trying the drugs over and over a little at a time to become addicted. The same is true in becoming evil. You do not become an evildoer overnight. You sin and sin until it becomes evil and you want to hurt somebody.

6. No one plans to become an evildoer. Nobody takes a drink to become an alcoholic. Nobody takes drugs to become a drug addict. Nobody sins to become an evil person. It never starts out as the intent.

7. As with other sins, there is a progression in becoming an evildoer. Therefore, for the rest of this chapter I want to explain how this progression takes place. I am going to explain how you begin as a sinner and end up as an evil person, or as the Bible calls it, "an evil man." There is nothing worse than that. None of us want to do evil, but there is a road to becoming an evil person just as there is a road to becoming alcoholic or drug addict. Let me tell you how it happens.

Stages in the Progression of Evil

1. You are a sinner. Everybody is even at this point. Everything we do that is righteous is tainted by sin. We cannot help but live there. Even the Bible says that all of us are there. This is where we are trying to stay. At this point we are trying to keep from becoming evil. We cannot help being where we are. We cannot help being sinners, but we can keep from becoming evil.

A sinful man is one who misses the mark, stumbles and falls and makes mistakes. An evil man is one who is bent on hurting someone and who has a lifestyle of injuring others. No Christian should ever want to hurt anybody. Consequently, we want to avoid becoming evil. If you do not want to get to a destination, the best thing to do is to avoid the road that gets you there. Every evil person at one time was just a sinner. What is the next step from where we are as sinners to where we do not want to be as an evil person?

2. You start being with evil men. The first step you will take toward becoming an evil man will be to be around evil men. If you spend your time with people who criticize and hurt people, you are on the road to becoming an evil person.

Proverbs 4:14-1 6, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall."

3. You hear the evil report. This is what you will get around evil men evil reports. If you are around evil men, they will criticize or slander and try to destroy somebody. The Bible says that we are to be the friend of sinners, but it never says we are to be friends with evil men! It says to stay away from them! Being around evil men is the first step to being like them.

When people try to tell me evil about someone, I tell them I do not want to know because I do not want to get on the road that leads to becoming evil. These evil men may act like they are trying to help the person they are slandering, but what they really want to do is to give you their evil report. You had better run from them!

4. You will have an evil heart. Somehow we think that we can get around evil men and listen to evil reports without getting an evil heart. Eventually it will get inside of you, and you will start thinking about the evil report and wondering whether or not it is true. Finally you begin to logic it into being true. Soon you become a suspicious and judgmental person. Jeremiah 3:17, "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart."

You do not want to be the kind of person who hurts people. You want to help people, but you are on the road to evil because your heart is beginning to be affected. It is not good enough to guard yourself from their reports; you should guard yourself by staying away from the evil people! Just as God's Word can be hid in your heart, evil reports likewise can be hid in your heart. When you hear evil, it does not leave. It is stored in your mind and heart!

5. You then start evil speaking. Evil speaking is not cursing someone; it is saying something that is going to hurt another person. I Peter 4:4, "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you."

Evil men will think that it is strange that you will not associate with them. They assume that you think you are better than they are. You are better. A sinner is better than an evil man! You are too good to run with them! The wise thing for you to do is to worry about getting your sin forgiven and not to speak evil of what you see or hear about somebody else.

You do not have to want to hurt somebody to do evil. You can simply repeat what someone who is evil told you. People who do not want to hurt often hurt more than others because of a desire inside of us that makes us want to be the first one to tell something bad about another person.

6. Then you do evil deeds. II John 11, "For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." The Bible says that if you even put a blessing on the evil man, you become guilty of partaking in his evil deeds. You are not evil yet, but you are on the way by partaking in the evil deeds of others. Do not say, "God bless you," to the evil man, for his deeds are cursed, not blessed!

7. You now walk an evil way. Now that you are on the path toward becoming evil, evil begins to be a way of life for you. Evil has become a habit, even though you never intended for it to happen. Maybe you started out only intending to help an evil person. He does not need your help. He needs you to shun him.

Proverbs 8:13, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."

8. You then walk in evil ways. Soon you will not just be involved in hurting one person. You will be trying to hurt many people. You never intended to give your life to hurting people, but you started hanging around evil men and listening to their evil reports. That evil report lodged in your heart; you told it to others, joining the evil men in trying to destroy that person, and it became a way of life. Now, you are the type of person who actually enjoys hurting people.

II Kings 17:13, "Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets."

9. Then you become an evildoer. I Peter 4:15, "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters."

Do you want to run around with an unrepentant murderer? God puts evildoers in the same bracket with murderers and thieves. I would enjoy running around with a bank robber as much as I would with a critic. If you have ever really been slandered, you know that it would be no worse for a man to take a gun and shoot you than to slander you. Yet, now you have become one of these evildoers, and you never intended for it to happen!

10. You are now an evil person. You did not have to become evil, but you followed the progression. Think about your heart. Are you trying to hurt anybody? You may justify it because he tried to hurt you first, but the Bible says not to render evil for evil. You are to render good for evil.

Where in this progression are you? Once you get started on this road, it becomes harder and harder to stop because one leads to the next.

11. It will become worse and worse. II Timothy 3:13, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse...." Once you have become an evil person, you will not stop. You will get worse and worse. It will never stop!

For your Christian testimony and for your own spiritual growth, stay only a sinful person. Every time you sin, confess it, ask God to forgive you, and forsake it immediately! Do not allow that sin to lead you to evil. You cannot start down the road without arriving at the destination!

Where are you in the progression of evil?

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