THE ATTRACTION OF EVIL
A SERMON DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
22 FEBRUARY 1998
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
1 John 2:16
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Last week we began to answer the question, "Why is there evil?"
As part of that discussion, we touched on the subject of today's message: the attraction of evil.
We talked about the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life, and how the love of money played a significant part in promoting evil.
John tells us that these forms of evil are not of the Father, but of the world (1 John 4:16).
What this is telling us is that what we observe with our eyes often has an evil connotation to it in our minds, and when we are attracted to it, it affects our whole body.
Listen to what we are told in Proverbs 4:14-17.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.
Why are we being told to not even set foot on the same path where wicked and evil people walk?
Why are we being told to not even look at what these people do, and to turn away from it?
Is it because this evil has an attraction for us?
Something that appears glamorous, or mysterious, or forbidden excites our curiosity, and we quite often want to see or experience more of it.
And the people who do these "evil" things, these things against God's will, know that, and thus they use these things to attract those who are weak in their faith and/or weak in their will.
And what are we told of the people who do these evil things?
16 For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
Our newspapers and magazines, our radio and television, and our movies all reflect the nature of our society.
All we have to do is look at the types of news articles and features that are published, and we see the evil or tragic side of life, and very little about love and compassion.
Why is this so?
Because it is this type of story that sells, that attracts attention.
People say that they want the sensitive and loving and compassionate side of life to be depicted, but sales say just the opposite.
The same is true of our movies.
People say they want family-oriented movies, but the box offices say we want tragedy, and sex and violence; so that's what's produced.
So, what do the people who make money from these sectors of society do?
They ponder during the day, they lie awake at night thinking of how they can produce a more violent, or more tragic story, and how much sex they can get away with putting into the program, so that they can sell more than the other guy.
They make their money through the attractiveness of evil, for people spend their money to see more of it.
Mary and I have been amazed at the recent change in context of the wildlife shows, which are showing more killing, and more mating scenes, something that in past years we rarely saw.
Why is this?
Because sex and violence, even among the animals, attracts more people to watch the programs.
We choose to participate in evil.
We may not consider it participating if we're simply watching, but that's what we're doing.
For through our watching, we increase ratings and box office income, and that encourages the producers to produce more of this kind of show.
Even when the people seem to pour out their hearts to help someone in need, because of a television news feature, it's usually the result of some tragedy.
There is even this sense of evil among truly believing Christians, who seek out others who have a problem so they can express their "love" by praying for them.
This isn't true love; this is a way of making ourselves feel better or more important. Outwardly, it's really an expression of our pride, saying, "See, I care about you!"
But, inwardly it is often a form of gloating which says, "I'm better off than this 'poor thing' who is sick."
Actually, this is a way of making one's self feel superior at the expense of someone else.
Beloved, we should be praying for each other every day, that no such problems befall us; this is true love.
Let me give you a far-fetched example.
If someone took out a gun and shot himself in the head, but didn't kill himself, and you asked me to pray for that person, that they live and be restored, I would, but how much better to have talked and prayed with that person while there was still a chance to keep them from shooting themselves.
Let me give you another very real example.
For more than ten years, I have watched you and others slowly killing yourselves with what you put in your mouths.
I have tried to counsel you, encourage you, express my love and concern for you, and even frighten you, but most of you simply don't want to listen.
Nevertheless, every week, I'm asked to pray for someone who has a diet or smoking-related disease.
I personally don't see a whole lot of difference between these people and the one who puts a gun to their head, other than one takes longer to kill you than the other.
This is the result of living on the evil side of life so long, that we think it's normal.
This is why Psalm 37:27-34 tells us,
27 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
29 the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.
This is the problem we have in our society.
We haven't turned away from evil.
It has infected the land, and most of the people in it.
Thus, the vast majority of society doesn't speak what is just, neither do they live righteously.
Almost everyone goes along with the crowd, and evil continues to thrive.
But what about the truly righteous person?
31 The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives;
33 but the LORD will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Our basic problem is that we simply don't fully trust in the Lord our God, thus we all too often respond to evil with evil.
This kind of action only multiplies evil; it never puts an end to it.
In the process, we who call ourselves Christians and Jews cause others to blaspheme the Lord; for these other people look upon us who say we believe, and see us behaving as though we don't believe, so they blame God.
34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
What land are we talking about?
The kingdom of God.
We should be living in this spiritual world, and behaving as though it's really our home.
We can remain slaves to evil, and do nothing to change the course of events here on earth.
Or, we can make a difference.
It's as Paul told the Corinthians in his second epistle, who like us, were having many problems with the evil conditions surrounding them to the extent that it almost destroyed the church (3:17-18).
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Just as Jesus was transformed on the mountain, so the Lord will transform us, if we will only let Him.
Unless we allow Him to do this in our lives, there will be no one to stand against the attraction of evil.
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