AGCC Sun. a.m. 8/12/2001
#4 (Proverbs Series - "7 Things God Hates")
"AN EVIL HEART"
TEXT: Prov. 6:18a, Psa. 10:1-18
INTRO: Human history is full of examples of evil hearts ... and the unthinkable consequences these evil hearts brought upon mankind. It is one thing to err from time to time, another thing to have an evil heart! God hates an evil heart! Such a heart has the capacity for horrendous evil, and is calculating and cold, indifferent to anyone else's needs, obsessed with self importance and self gratification. And before we dismiss the message as not applying to me we must remember that the creation of an evil heart begins with much smaller expressions of selfishness, a process of building an evil heart over time ... something that can happen to anyone!
We must be careful not to dismiss the idea of developing an evil heart ... history reveals the tragic results when this happens, and the book of Revelation reveals what will happen when the world again fails to see the evil heart in the antichrist.
ILLUS:Evil is the real problem in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man. -- Albert Einstein (1879-1955) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3362.
It is clear that an evil heart rarely develops overnight, almost no one starts off by saying, "I think I will be an evil person." It is a process of hardening that goes on over years, with tragic results! It can be astonishing to see just how cold the human heart can become when it yields itself to evil designs.
ILLUS:One death is a tragedy. A thousand is just a statistic. -- Joseph Stalin. From the files of Leadership.
PROP. SENT: The Word of God teaches us evil is real, that God hates an evil heart because it destroys the one who has it and the pain and suffering it brings to many others as well.
I. FOCUS OF AN EVIL HEART Psa. 10:1-11
A. Narcissistic 10:1-3a
1. The evil heart grows from an obsession with self.
a. Truly evil people in history were obsessed with self importance and self love, to the extent that they lifted themselves up above all others.
b. Some felt that they were God's gift to humanity, considered almost "god-like," they were going to save mankind and build great kingdoms!
2. Arrogance is evident in the evil heart ... evil feeds on arrogance and unhealthy pride.
3. It always starts at a lower level, and from lack of challenge or correction grows until it is out of control and often beyond repair in the latter stages!
a. Failure to correct things before they pile up can make the job so much more difficult later, or even impossible!
ILLUS:In 1991, a judge fined brothers Geno and Russell Capozziello, owners of a Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrecking company, nearly $900,000 for operating an illegal dump. In 1986, on the empty lots surrounding their facility, the brothers began dumping debris from buildings. Eventually the mound of rubble and muck covered two acres and reached a height of thirty-five feet, the equivalent of a three-story building.
The state ordered them to clean it up, but the brothers claimed there was no place to dump it legally in Bridgeport, and they could not afford to have it hauled away. While spending more than $330,000 the previous year to have debris hauled away, they barely dented the pile. According to Geno, "It was never supposed to get this high."
Like garbage, the effects of sinful habits have a way of accumulating beyond our plans and beyond our control. -- Michael E. Hardin in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
b. Such development of evil needs to be challenged when it is still expressed in smaller measures, left unchecked the price tag can get pretty high.
4. In the obsession with self other important things are ignored, the exclusion of dealing with other important things causes a single minded evil focus, and everything melts away except the evil self's needs and wants.
a. This narcissistic lifestyle causes isolation.
b. Isolation only creates an even deeper self focus.
c. It is interesting to note that many, if not most mass murderers have been very withdrawn and isolated people, know as "loners" in society.
d. It is also interesting how many times Jesus and the Apostles talked about "crucifying self" if you want to find real joy and righteousness.
B. Nefarious 10:3b-11
1. The evil heart is always on the prowl to benefit self, it is obsessed with its own goals, its own needs, its own desires.
a. An evil heart uses others to achieve the goals it has set for self.
b. An evil person usually knows how to appeal to the same desires in others, and brings them along in the process of designing evil.
c. An evil heart usually masquerades its intentions with the appearance of good goals to benefit others, but these are snares and traps, and often hide the reality of true evil laying beneath the surface.
d. Such examples of Hitler, Stalin, Nero, Alexander the Great, and others who had ways of convincing people that the goals of their designs were so good and that the mechanisms of how they arrived at those goals were therefore to be accepted as "good" or at least necessary ... hence the term "necessary evil."
e. Such evil hearts were obsessed with self importance and self love.
2. There is little room for a conscience when a heart has turned evil.
a. Little concern about morality.
b. Not interested in God's existence.
c. Consequences are not considered, reaching the goal is all that counts!
d. Will not accept any limitations or failure, pure arrogance -- Psa 10:6 "He says to himself, 'Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble.'"
3. Tragically, many an evil heart thinks it is doing "good" while actually it is perpetrating evil ...
a. Often an evil heart will proclaim they are doing God's work, and what they really mean by that is that they are God and it is their work!
ILLUS:What a diabolical invention was the "Virgin's kiss" once used by the fathers of the Inquisition! The victim was pushed forward to kiss the image, then its arms enclosed him in a deadly embrace, piercing his body with a hundred hidden knives. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
b. Evil to be accepted has to appear to be good on the surface .... hence Satan's temptation with Eve ... Gen 3:5-6 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." (underline mine for emphasis)
c. Evil presents its face washed and clean, but deep beneath lies a monster!
d. Most evil hearts think of themselves as a savior to a needy world, this is how they blind themselves to their own evil.
4. Everything and everyone around an evil heart is there to serve the evil heart ... and the evil heart never thinks it will face consequences for its actions!
a. Evil makes someone indifferent to the reality of God!
b. An evil heart mocks the idea of judgment! Psa 10:11 "He says to himself, 'God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.'"
II. FAILURE OF THE EVIL HEART Psa. 10:12-18
A. Nearsighted! 10:12-15
1. David is amazed that the evil heart can pretend there won't be consequences for sin ... how can that evil heart really believe this?
a. It amazed David, and it still amazes us today too!
b. The reason an evil heart can believe this is because so often evil is not judged IMMEDIATELY.
c. A righteous heart understands that judgment doesn't always happen immediately, even when it is hard to accept this; but, an evil heart takes this lack of immediate judgment as proof that there is no God OR that they are right!
2. Tragically, what the evil heart doesn't understand is that the energy that is expended to commit evil is as great or greater than the energy that could be spent doing good!!!
ILLUS:Henry Ward Beecher says, "There was a man in the town where I was born who used to steal all his firewood. He would get up on cold nights and go and take it from his neighbors' woodpiles. A computation was made, and it was ascertained that he spent more time and worked harder to get his fuel than he would have been obliged to if he had earned it in an honest way at ordinary wages. And this thief is a type of thousands of men who work a great deal harder to please the devil than they would have to work to please God." -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
a. Evil is a terrible taskmaster!
b. It takes a lot of energy to be evil, far more than it would to be good!
3. Think of the energy evil hearts have expended in history, and how much these same men and women might have done if they had truly focused their talents and energy to build up people rather than use people for their own desires.
a. This is the great tragedy of evil ... so often these evil hearts have great talents, but they focused them for destruction rather than good.
b. Evil deceives itself, Satan is self deluded ... he keeps fighting God with evil and cannot win, but he keeps trying, truly an exercise of futility!
c. David and other righteous hearts have often been puzzled over evil hearts, that they could be so blind and that they can do so much wickedness and so often fail to understand their own evil!
(1. Yet, remember how easily David himself fell into evil when he decided to satisfy his own desires rather than God's ... he commits both adultery and murder, he stayed behind in a time of war and in his isolation let his desires take over for self fulfillment.
(2. This is just the point, an evil heart can start at any time with anyone who lets their guard down.
(3. I'm sure Judas who betrayed Jesus discovered this too.
4. Sin blinds, it makes the heart nearsighted, the sinful heart cannot see very far, rarely past its own needs and wants.
a. It doesn't think about God or consequences, will worry about that, if ever, later.
b. The evil heart sets itself up above God and everything!
ILLUS:The essence of sin is the refusal to recognize that we are accountable to God at all. -- Oswald Chambers, Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 11.
c. In this sense Atheism is evil! It is also evil for a believer who is indifferent to sin, who decides they are exempt from God's laws.
5. God however is present, He does see what the evil heart does, He does take notice of sin, David says it well here: Psa 10:14 "But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless."
a. The righteous must not get discouraged though it seems at times that wickedness succeeds, it is only short-lived success.
b. The righteous too are not forgotten by the Lord even while the wicked appear to succeed, God is ALWAYS on the side of the innocent and needy, and He is always opposed to the proud and the wicked!
c. The evil heart may appear to be living without consequences, but it is storing up wrath for itself ... and the day of judgment WILL come!
6. In this sense we must be careful that we don't fret over evildoers, their days are numbered and their bliss short-lived in comparison to eternity.
a. David states this in other Psalms: Psa 37:1-2 "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away."
b. Solomon also stated this: Prov 24:19-20 "Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out."
B. Neutralized! 10:16-18
1. No evil heart every takes God off the throne, He is forever the King!
a. Even when it appears they are successful in the moment, that's all it is, a moment of success!
b. God cannot be overruled by anything, not even evil!
2. We often fear that evil will triumph, that its power is sovereign, but in truth it is limited and weak!
ILLUS:The devil is like a mad dog that is chained up. He is powerless to harm us when we are outside his reach, but once we enter his circle we expose ourselves again to injury or harm. -- Aurelius Augustine, Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 2.
3. David ends this on positive notes:
a. Positively God is King!
b. Positively Evil will end!
c. Positively God cares about the afflicted and encourages them.
4. Evil's power is temporary, and rather than destroy God it only proves Him!
ILLUS:The existence of evil here below, far from disproving the reality of God, is the very thing that reveals him in his truth. -- Simone Weil (1909-1943) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3398.
a. Animals don't have a concept of "evil" ... they do what they do by instinct or biological drive, by natural reactions to fear ... but man proves the existence of a soul and of God in that we devise evil ways, going well beyond what biology would dictate or explain.
b. The evidence of evil also proves the existence of righteousness ... and thus ultimately God!
5. History has proved the existence of evil ... but also the triumph of good in the end ... and while there may be dark days ahead as in the past we know that God still reigns both now and in the future.
a. God will one day completely neutralize evil, the day of the evil heart will come to a close!
b. An evil heart like a righteous heart matures over time, the path we choose leads us to destruction or life, which path are you on?
6. We must always be vigilant to guard our own hearts from evil, and quick to challenge the evil heart in this world ... God is on the side of the righteous, he hates the evil heart!
CONCLUSION: An evil heart is a tragic reality! It is tragic for the one who has the evil heart because they no longer really care about what's right, only what benefits self; and, it is tragic in the pain that is afflicted on others. In the end the evil heart will receive its just punishment, and God will take care of the victims both now and in the future. Evil will not triumph!