I’m Evil? [Thoughts from the Cutting Floor]

by Nate Powell
 
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:11, NASB)
 
We were studying this passage this past Sunday, regarding the topic of prayer. But there were two little words in this verse that hung with me a bit, and when we pause to study the text, should probably hang with you too. Those words were: “being evil”. It’s easy to gloss over these two words, but then you come back to it. “Whoa, whoa, whoa … did Jesus just call us evil?”
 
There are a few issues in context that we want to look at. We should see that the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount is spoken to his entire audience. There are a few spots where he refers to how the Pharisees give, pray, etc. But overall, the cast of Jesus’ message is very broad in its appeal. The “If you then” question of the passage should be interpreted as stated toward the whole audience, not simply people we would like to project the title of “evil” onto, such as the pharisees.
 
Jesus is of one mind when it comes to understanding the hearts of mankind: we are evil, and we find ways to do evil.
 
But you might counter with: “Hold on … aren’t all people basically good?” We should reconsider this philosophy based off a few other passages.
 
Case in Point #1: John 2:23-25 // In this passage, we see that Jesus was doing many great signs and wonders, but that he didn’t fully entrust himself to the people at this point of his ministry. Why not? “Because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” And what would happen at a point in his ministry in which he would fully entrust himself to men? They would murder him by nailing him to a cross. He understood the evil that was lurking in the hearts of men. Indeed, Jesus “knew all men” all too well.
 
Case in Point #2: Mark 10:17-18 // Jesus points out to the Rich Young Ruler that he knows men all too well. When asked a simple question by the man, who calls Jesus the “Good Teacher”, the man asks what must be done so that he may inherit eternal life. Jesus retorts with a pointed response: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus understands clearly that the title of “Good” is not man’s title. He knows us all too well and knows our capabilities when left to our own devices. The Title of good belongs in all truth to God.
 
Case in Point #3: Romans 3:10-18 // I could just hit the copy and paste button on my computer, but you really should go look this passage up. The point gets summed up when he gets to verse 23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Are there exceptions here? No. We all get to wear the label. Evil. Rebel. Sinner.
 
Pretty dark stuff, I know. So you’re probably stuck on this … wondering if there is any hope. If I’m an evil rebel sinner, what can I do?
 
Jesus said it: No one is good but God alone. And Jesus is the God-Man who lived perfectly and died sacrificially to make a way to heaven for anyone who believes. And those who believe get to wear and new name Christian and be clothed in the white robes of his righteousness. Turn from your sin and trust fully in Jesus Christ today. Be baptized into him.
 
Are we evil rebels? Yes. But Jesus came to bring life and hope to evil rebels. That’s what we preach … the Gospel: a message of hope for Rebels.  
 
**The Cutting Floor is a series of blogs where we chase rabbits that we didn’t have time to chase during the weekly sermon. Thanks for chasing a rabbit with us. The rabbits usually lead back to Jesus. 😉