One of the most disheartening aspects of evil is seeing its proliferation through history; beginning with the evil years before the flood (Gen. 6:5), and then in the evil kingdom of Nimrod, and also in the nation of Israel through one evil king after another, as they led the people into idolatry and wickedness. But even now, in these modern times, we see the continual spread of evil everywhere throughout the world through various ways. Things seem to be getting worse and worse without any sign of a let up.
So what are we to do? For starters, I think it is definitely helpful to be aware of the reality of evil and how it spreads, so that we may be better prepared to combat it. Here are…
Five Ways We Allow Evil to Spread
1. Evil spreads because of a lack of righteousness (Rom. 6:23; 12:21). As I mentioned in an earlier article, the definition of evil is spiritual death. But what is spiritual death? It is the absence of righteousness. Hence, to the degree that there is a lack of righteousness (in a person or in a society), to that degree will evil be allowed to exist and spread.
Conversely, evil can be overcome simply by letting righteousness take its hold—by committing ourselves to God and to His word, and by prayer and good works. The truth of this principle is found in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” What a great and powerful verse! We don’t have to let evil overcome us. We can overtake it by simply crowding it out by filling our lives with His goodness.
2. Evil spreads when it is sown in the heart and cultivated (Job 4:8; Gal. 6:7-8). Eliphaz, in Job 4:8, said, “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same” (NLT). Eliphaz is telling us that evil best grows and spreads when one plants the seeds of evil, and then cultivates the area, just as a farmer does with his crops.
Practically speaking, evil is planted in the heart by reading an evil (sinful) book, by thinking and fantasizing over sinful things, and by plotting evil actions. Then he cultivates evil by continuing to do those things over and over again.
Of course we are to reject all forms of evil and stay away from all appearances of evil. For we will reap whatever we sow; and if we sow evil in us, we will certainly suffer for it, physically and spiritually, for the wages of sin is death.
3. Evil spreads when we are too lazy and proud to reject it and repent of it (Jer. 16:12; Ezek. 38:10). From time to time Israel listened to God and followed His commands. But far too often they chose to follow idols and walked stubbornly according to their own evil heart. This kind of stubborn, lazy pride feeds the spread of evil, because it cuts off the voice of God, and therefore doesn’t give repentance a chance. Hence, evil just continues to feed off of our pride and keeps growing.
Likewise, whenever we fail to reject an evil thought (see example in Ezek. 38:10), this prideful and lazy acceptance of it will always cause it to grow and spread, until we find ourselves so far down the road that it is impossible to turn back.
But if you want to be godly, humble yourselves before God when evil is presented to you, and reject it. Listen instead to the voice of God. The more you listen to Him and make plans to be holy, the more evil will be reduced and will eventually disappear.
4. Evil spreads by demons (Gen. 6:5; Rev. 18:1-3). A Christian need not fear Satan or demons if he has put his trust in God, for God’s power is much greater that any demonic force. But those who are of the world have much to fear; and an unrepentant Christian is not safe from evil either, for all who give themselves to sin will suffer the consequences.
I am not an expert on this subject; however, what happed before the flood gives us proof that evil spreads quickly and thoroughly when people are influenced (and possessed) by demons. What happened, according to Genesis 6:1-5, was that fallen angels (called “sons of God”) intermarried with young women (“the daughters of men”) and they produced a race called “mighty men” and “men of renown.” This super race, part demon and part human, somehow corrupted everyone, except Noah and his family. (We don’t know all the details of what happened, but it seems evident that demons were involved.)
Likewise, because the bible tells us that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19), Satan and the demon are still very active today in many lives. They will never stop trying to destroy us. Their evil activity will get worse and worse. In fact, at the very end of this age, just before the second coming of Christ, Revelation 18:2-3 reveals that demons will be so active on the earth that the capitol city of Satan’s empire, Babylon, will be full of demons and evil spirits. John writes…
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”
Yes, I believe the work of demons greatly speeds up the spread of evil, mainly because they sow so much deception in the world and in a life, making people enslaved to its power.
But Christ has come into this world to destroy the works of the devil, and to set the captives (those who are enslaved to evil) free. (Gal. 1:3; Col. 1:13).
5. Evil spreads by deception (2 Tim. 3:13). When people are deceived, their minds are corrupted by lies; and the more they are deceived the more they are corrupted. This corruption, which is an eating away at the truth, is the work and the spreading of evil.