In the beginning, God prepared a wonderful garden of Eden. Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Verses 15-17 “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Later, the serpent tempted Eve and she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and gave to Adam and he also ate. They disobeyed God, but with that disobedience came the knowledge of good and evil. This same knowledge of good and evil was passed on to the descendants of Adam and Eve – even down to you and me. We all have a basic knowledge of what is sinful and evil. We don’t need any written law to tell us that killing someone else is wrong; we don’t need any written law to tell us that lying is wrong. While the inspired scriptures clarify what is evil, I understand that all people on earth have a basic knowledge of good and evil.
All people on earth have chosen to participate in evilness, some to a small amount and others to a great amount. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Not long after the creation of man, people became very wicked. Genesis 6:5-6 “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” As a result, God caused a great flood to come on the earth and destroy all mankind except Noah and his family. Today, we can look around us and see much evil among people. It causes us to wonder how long God will tolerate the evilness on the earth before He again destroys the earth, this time with fire.
As Christians, we are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from every form of evil.” Some translations say “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I don’t want you to spend a lot of time thinking on evil. Our meditations should be elsewhere. Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Even so, it is good to know what the scriptures say is evil so you can abstain from it. The following is not an exhaustive list, but rather a brief summary of some of the things that the Bible says are evil.
Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and quickly made coverings to hide their nakedness. It is obvious that nakedness is evil. God intended sexual intimacy to be between a husband and wife. All other sexual intimacy is evil. Fornication is a general term for sexual immorality. It can include sexual relations between unmarried people, between people who are married to someone else (also known as adultery), homosexuality, and sex with an animal (Leviticus 18:23). Jesus taught us that we can lust in our hearts and commit sexual immorality (Matthew 5:28).
Violence is hated by God. Genesis 6:11-13 “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.’” Today, there is much violence in the world. It includes war, fighting, murder, violent sports, and violent video games. God considers violence to be evil.
Anything that takes worship and glory away from God and gives it to something else is evil. This would include witchcraft, sorcery, idolatry and greed. The apostle Paul said that greed is idolatry in Colossians 3:5. Whatever we love above God is a form of idolatry. 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Deception or lying is evil (Revelation 21:8). Drunkenness is evil. In Biblical times, they did not have the myriad of recreational drugs that we have today. My judgement is that usage of recreational drugs is in the same category as drunkenness and therefore evil. Wanting or taking what belongs to someone else (covetousness or stealing) is evil.
I am sure there are more things we could put on the list of things that are evil. Consider Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
My encouragement to you is to abstain from every form of evil.