Only Evil Continually

Only Evil Continually, by Paul Hayden 

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.


When we come across acts of kindness from unbelievers, what do we think? Indeed, many  people who never go to church, never think of the things of God, and maybe are even actively involved in another religion, can be very kind people, kinder in fact than many Christians we come across. And that’s probably one of the most difficult things for us to understand, especially in the light of the fact that our Lord and Saviour claimed uniqueness:


John 14:6

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.


John 8:12

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.


John 3:18

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


1 John 5:19

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.


How can it be that Christians claim to be the only ones in the light, and that everybody else “lieth in wickedness”? The kind acts of unbelievers seem to indicate that there is light elsewhere too, in other religions and philosophies. 

It’s true that most other religions, including atheism, teach that we should be kind to our neighbour. Everybody wants a society in which we can all get along. Everybody wants to live a peaceable life on this earth. So all the major religions will teach us to love our neighbour. It sounds good, and we all want it to be that way. There’s nothing uniquely Christian about that.  

We may get on well with our Muslim neighbour, and I hope we do. As for that atheist living the other side of us, let’s get on with him too. Let’s live in a peaceable street.


Romans 12:18

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.


But, we only need to delve a little below the surface, and we’ll find that reality is far from that ideal. What are our neighbours really like, not to our face, but behind closed doors? Maybe we’ve heard the shouting. Maybe we’ve even seen the bruises. How many times have we been shocked to discover that people can be very different underneath what otherwise would appear to be a kind and pleasant exterior?

I’m sure we’ve all experienced occasions when we’ve come across the darker side of life. Because there is one. Maybe we’ve been bullied at school, or sexually assaulted, or controlled by an abusive partner, or desperately let down by someone we thought we could trust. And there are whole television channels that deal solely with this kind of subject matter. Which makes you wonder who watches them. Yet we still think that these incidents are merely a few aberrations from the norm, and we continue to have this ridiculous idea that, underneath everything, the human heart is essentially good. No, no, no. It’s the other way around. Someone being genuinely kind from the heart is the exception rather than the rule. Underneath pleasant exteriors, the human heart is essentially wicked, selfish and self-centred 

But then, rather than complaining about other people, let’s take a deeper look at ourselves. What are we like when we’re really stressed? The most surprising and horrific thing that we’ll probably ever experience, is to find out how terrible we too can be. We’ve absolutely no inkling of how bad we really are, until a situation arises which triggers something off. Then we can’t control ourselves. We can’t deal with it. We can’t stop it or get out of it. We’re forced to admit to ourselves that we too are desperately wicked, and no better than anyone else. The Bible is right when it tells us that by nature we can do no good thing:


Ephesians 2:2,3

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.


Romans 7:18

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.


Most people sweep all this under the carpet and pretend it’s not happening. “I’m not really like this.” “That’s not the real me.” But I am, and it is. We’re all like that. And we need to deal with it. And that explains the uniqueness of Christianity. That is exactly the problem Jesus Christ came to solve:


Romans 7:24

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Other religions and philosophies pander to the pride of man by rejecting any concept of us being unable to deal with what is an essentially wicked nature. They believe either that there’s no problem at all, or if there is a problem, it’s possible to do something about it for ourselves. But we can’t. None of us can change ourselves, we all need a Saviour. And no other religion, whatever it is, can give us that.

I’m not saying that we Christians are better than anyone else because we’ve got a Saviour and they haven’t. God forbid we should think that way. We’re exactly the same as others, just as much in need as others. Even after becoming a Christian, we’re no better than them. The only difference is that we recognise the problem, and know that Christ has saved us from the consequences of where our own hearts were leading us. We now have the Holy Spirit within us to help us live in the light, in “simplicity and godly sincerity” (2 Corinthians 1:12). But we’re still sinners just like everybody else. The only difference is that Christians are forgiven sinners. 

You might say, “Well, I see myself as a sinner, and I understand my need of a Saviour, and I’ve called on Jesus Christ to save me, and He has. He’s changed me from the inside. I now live a new life, far better and less selfish than the one I lived before.” Hallelujah! That’s what Jesus Christ can do for all those who genuinely call on Him in truth. But you may also be thinking, “But I just can’t see that I’m as bad as the Bible says I am”: 


Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?


Ecclesiastes 9:3

....the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.


And there will be many genuine Christians who think that way. It’s quite common, especially for those new in the faith. So, if we don’t quite understand the Bible’s view of the human heart yet, don’t worry. We’ll find out soon enough.

I would suggest that such folk would probably also have a problem with the doctrine of eternal hell-fire. This is the place we all deserve to go after death to be punished everlastingly for our sins, unless in this life we’ve called on the Saviour to save us from going there. Jesus spoke about this place more than anyone else in the Bible:


Mark 9:43

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.


Matthew 25:41,46

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


Maybe we can come to believe the idea of a punishment after death, but it’s the eternity of it that is a real problem to us.


An unbeliever can never believe the truth that he deserves punishment at all. He is too proud in himself to be able to acknowledge that he, personally, deserves to go to hell-fire, even for a short time. He’ll either laugh at the concept of God punishing sin altogether, or he’ll take up a religion whereby he thinks he can avoid such a place merely by performing a few simple tasks for himself 

And new Christians too can have a similar problem. Many would rather the subject of hell-fire not be mentioned in church at all. They just want to talk about the love of God. Any suggestion that hell-fire is real, they find uncomfortable. 

So, not surprisingly, there’s a whole false gospel come into the churches that Satan has invented especially to cater for those who have a problem with hell-fire. Not only does it avoiding mentioning hell altogether, neither does it mention sin nor our having any need of repentance. And it’s very attractive to many people. We’re just told to accept Christ as our Saviour. That’s it. Now we’re a believer. Jesus Christ dealt with sin a long time ago, so we’re not to let sin bother us any more. Don’t think about sin. In fact, thinking about sin is a sin in itself. Just think good thoughts about yourself all the time. This is nothing else but modern secular humanism with a religious veneer. It’s not Christianity. It’s nonsense. We’re sinners. We need salvation, or we justly perish everlastingly.

But if we are Christians, as we mature in the faith and get closer to Christ, we’ll slowly begin to see more and more of the filthiness we have inside ourselves. The Holy Spirit is holy, like a shining light picking out all the dirt in our hearts that we never saw before. This is a fundamental part of spiritual growth. And as we do so, we’ll eventually come to the realisation that, even if we didn’t see it before, eternal hell-fire is real, because it dawns on us that that’s exactly the place where I, myself, personally, deserve to go.

Once we see what we’re really like, we can see others for what they’re really like. And if everybody else is as bad as we are, how careful we must be with them! Christ tells us:


Matthew 10:16

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.


John 2:24-25

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.


We should be kind, harmless and genuine to everyone we meet. And by the Lord’s grace alone we can do that. But we should always be aware that nobody is going to treat us in the same way. If we’re genuine, we’re sure to be taken advantage of:


Psalms 146:3

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.


Micah 7:5

Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.


We should know this already, because we know what we used to be like before we came to know the Lord. How we used people for our own ends! How we tricked them into believing a pack of lies, just for our own selfish advantage! How ashamed we should now be of our past life!

We may be thinking that we shouldn’t examine ourselves too closely like this, because looking inwardly on our sin all the time is very negative, and if we look too hard, we’ll end up in a state of depression. Which is true, if it wasn’t for that fact that we’re Christians. And as Christians, we really need a correct view of the utter depravity of our own nature, not merely because it’s the truth, which it is, but because it will lead us on to three things:

(1.) It’s the essence of true humility, which is exactly what the Lord is looking for:


Psalm 51:4,17

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.... The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.


Isaiah 66:2

....but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.


Humility isn’t simply a matter of size - “I’m small, and God is so much bigger than I am.” It’s far more than that. It’s also a recognition of our sinfulness and God’s holiness:


Job 40:4

Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.


Jeremiah 3:25

We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.


Daniel 9:5

We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:


1 Timothy 1:15

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.


(2.) The more we see our own sin, the more we’ll see our need of a Saviour, and the more thankful we’ll become for what He has done for us:


Psalms 32:1

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.


Luke 7:47

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.


(3.) And in turn, that thankfulness will lead us on to experience an inexpressible joy in our hearts, which in turn will be our inner strength in all the trials we have to endure throughout this life:


Nehemiah 8:10

....the joy of the Lord is your strength.


1 Peter 1:8-9

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.


So let’s be thankful to our Lord, firstly, that He will judge all men justly at the end of time. So we have no need to fear or worry about anybody trying to take advantage of us, no matter how persuasive and forceful they are:


Psalms 56:11

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.


And secondly, let’s also be thankful that our Lord has provided a Saviour in Jesus Christ. A Saviour to save us from ourselves. Not just from a list of sins (albeit a long list), but from our very sinful natures that we can otherwise never get away from, even if we had the desire to do so, which naturally we don’t.


We must seek reality, and stop pretending that we’re not so bad. All of us are:


Revelation 3:17

.... wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.


The sooner we realise this, and call upon the Saviour that God has provided, the better. He is the only hope of mankind:


John 3:36

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.