by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 22 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)

No doctrine will change your outlook on the Bible more and throw more light on other Bible doctrines than an understanding of the difference between sin and evil. The words for "sin" are never crossed with the word, "evil," in the Bible. If you understand that, it will drastically affect almost all of the other doctrines in the Bible. Let me show you 12 examples.

1. It will change your outlook toward sin in the garden of Eden. Genesis 2:9, 'And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

Genesis 2:17, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 3:5, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

Genesis 3:22, 'And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever."

Notice that it was not the tree of the knowledge of "good and sin," but of "good and evil." Satan wants you to sin, but much more than that, he wants you to keep sinning until you begin to do evil by conspiring to harm others. He wants you to do wrong to others, not just to yourself.

2. It will change your outlook on David's sin. Psalm 51:4, 'Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." In a moment of passion, David sinned with Bathsheba; yet, in a premeditated act, he plotted to do evil by having Uriah killed.

3. It will change your outlook toward the flood. Genesis 6:5, 'And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

God saw the wickedness of men on the earth. That was sin. Yet, God also saw that the imaginations of man's heart were evil continually. God chastens sin to correct man, but He hates evil even more. In churches all across America, an evil is committed against those who sin. God hates the sin; but even more, He hates the evil committed against the one who sinned.

Consider the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees brought her to Jesus and accused her to Him. She had sinned, but they were trying to have her killed. Their act was evil and was worse than her sin.

Jesus saved His most scathing remarks for those who were doing evil and trying to hurt somebody. He severely reprimanded the Pharisees!

Why did God send the flood? He did so for two reasons: sin and evil. Anytime God destroyed a people, He did so, not because they were sinning, but because they were doing evil. If they had just been sinning, they would not have been destroyed.

4. It will change your outlook toward ecclesiastical or church separation. Revelation 2:1, 2, "Unto the angel of the church of

Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars."

The stars are the preachers, and the candlesticks are the churches. The word, "bear," means "to hold up." They could not hold up under the load of those who were evil. The church at Ephesus would not associate with those who were evil. They would not allow them to be deacons or Sunday school teachers. They could not bear them! The Bible says that we are to be the friend of sinners; yet we are told not to tolerate those who are evil.

The church is to reach every sinner we possibly can. We are to lift up all of the fallen we can. We are to reach every drunkard, harlot, drug addict and fallen sinner we can, but we are not to bear those who are evil nor associate with them.

God commended the church at Ephesus for refusing to bear those who are evil. Those who are trying to hurt people should not be respected by the church; yet there are pastors by the hundreds who are trying to hurt each others. That is always wrong. Even our chastening is to be for the sake of correction.

Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them." We are to avoid people who cause divisions. A dear, sweet, Christian lady who was a member of our church in Garland, Texas, ran into an evil couple one day who had slandered our church, spread vicious lies and left the church. They said to her, "We understand that you have lost some members recently."

She replied to them, "We do not consider everybody who leaves our church to be a loss." She turned and walked away from them. That is exactly what the Bible teaches us to do!

5. It will change your outlook toward fellowship. Proverbs 2:11, 12, "Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things." Discretion and understanding should deliver you from being associated with evil people. The Bible says that if you have any common sense, you will not run with them. That is clear enough; you should not have to be told again!

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."

Who are these evil men? These are people trying to hurt somebody for whatever reason. That is evil and we are not to associate with those types of people.

6. It will change your outlook toward child discipline. If your child loses his or her temper, that is sin. However, if your child tries to hurt another child, that is evil. When your child does wrong, decide if it was sin or evil before you punish him. If it is evil, you have probably not punished him properly for sin. Always punish evil more severely than sin.

7. It will change your ideas about sanctification. A person cannot live above sin, but he can live above evil. That is a great goal for us. We cannot reach the place in our lives that we do not sin, but we can determine not to do evil!

II Timothy 4:18, 'And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

9. It will change your ideas on the unpardonable sin. In Mark 3, these men knew that Jesus did not have an unclean spirit. They had seen Him feed the 5,000; yet they said that the Devil made Him do these works. It was a premeditated desire to hurt the Saviour. Jesus stopped them and proclaimed it to be the one thing that would not be forgiven in this world, nor in the world to come.

10. It will give you hope when you have sinned.

11. It will give you incentive to forsake sin quickly before it becomes evil.

12. It will give you hope in your thought life. If you have an evil thought that harbors in your mind, soon it will lead you to do something premeditated which makes it evil. Get all sinful thoughts out before that happens!

The conclusion of all these things is simple: (1) Forsake all sin immediately; and (2) Do not associate with evil people.


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