Lesson 3: A Humanitarian to an Evil World

Study Guide Pages 19-26

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What qualifies as evil? Who qualifies as evil?

The answer depends on your perspective. Take a skyscraper. Standing next to it, it looks huge. Flying high over it in an airplane, not so much.

The opposite holds true when it comes to evil. The closer we are to it, the less we see it. The further away we are, the clearer it becomes. The problem is, according to the Bible, we can’t get away from it. Evil is all around us. We live in an evil world filled with evil people.

This means we can’t see evil clearly. One of its most damming effects is that it blinds us to its presence. Therefore, we need to listen carefully to God, who alone sees evil clearly.

What he says about it is sobering. Even shocking. Once evil entered the world through Adam’s sin, it spread rapidly. So much so that only a couple of chapters later in Genesis, we hear God’s chilling indictment of all mankind:

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.

Genesis 6:5

It couldn’t be clearer. Or more total. Evil doesn’t just apply to some actions or words. It includes people’s “imaginations.” And God says every imagination “was only evil continually.”

But the people didn’t see it this way. They lived their lives, worked at their jobs, got married, and had families. Most would have vehemently rebelled at being described as wicked and evil.

From God’s perspective, however, they were. They were because they didn’t give him any thought, or they had the wrong idea about him. They thought they could be good enough or do enough to please him. From God’s perspective, however, this is the ultimate evil.

God sees this as evil because such thoughts dishonor God by nullifying his tremendous sacrifice to save us. It is like telling the widow of the firefighter who died saving your life that you saved yourself. Or that you helped save yourself even though you were unconscious at the time.

Despite the fact of mankind’s wickedness, God did sacrifice his Son to save us. He remained a humanitarian to our evil world.

Key Bible Verses

At the time of Noah, before God sent a worldwide flood over the earth, this was the state of humanity

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.

Genesis 6:5

The Apostle Paul describes the natural state of the unbelieving heart.

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Romans 3:10-12

Questions to Consider

  1. Why is sin a much bigger problem than we might initially think it is?
  2. The Bible and the world have very different ideas of what being a “good” person means. Compare and contrast how the Bible talks about being “good” with the way the world does.
  3. List as many ways humans downplay sin as you can. What do these attempts to diminish evil all have in common?
  4. Why is thinking that we can be good enough or do enough to please God ultimately just another form of evil? Why could it even be called the “ultimate evil?”
  5. How does having a proper understanding of God’s view of sin and evil make you feel? How does knowing that God even knows and judges our “imaginations” add to this?
  6. How does understanding the size of our sin help us better understand the size of our Savior? (God knows EVERYTHING about you, and he still loves you. Can you say that about many people in your life?)
  7. How does God’s treatment of our sinful/evil world throughout history help us better understand his relationship with us now?

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