The human condition is rarely well-understood.  The Bible tells us we need to be 'saved'. But 'saved' from what? Common church teaching is that we have inherited a 'sinful' nature from Adam, our ancestor, and this is undeniable. But what does that really mean?  Does it mean we can't help but sin? Are we doomed to act out our fallen nature until the Lord comes back?  This essay tries to come to terms with the real implications of being born into this world with such a handicap.

I will also look at answering the question: "At what point does selfishness become evil?" The average person considers him or herself to be reasonably 'good'. Few among us would consider ourselves to be capable of murder. We try to keep untruths flowing from our lips to a minimum. We recognise adultery to be a strongly negative influence on stable relationships. We don't generally have idols sitting in the corner of our lounge, at least not ones that look like our concept of an 'idol'. Stealing is a no-no. Most of us have some sense of responsibility in regard to our parents when they are growing old. And the days of the week still include a 'day of rest' for most.  All these values have their roots in the Ten Commandments of the Bible. So we have trouble with the concept of a God who would send such 'good' people to hell. Surely only 'evil' people deserve eternal damnation?

Normally, we assimilate new information by slotting it into an existing framework of what we already  'know' to be true.  Stuff that doesn't fit, we tend to either reject as untrue, or, if it really strikes a chord, causes us to rearrange our framework until it does fit. This means that rarely, if ever, do we receive new information totally objectively. Evolutionists automatically reject any scientific evidence in favor of creation. Creationists automatically reject any evidence in favor of evolution.  Yet it is so important to be able to process new data objectively - it is the only way to get to the real meaning. So the purpose of this essay is to examine the concept of evil as objectively as possible, looking at both sides of the coin without bias.


So lets start with an average, 'good' person, let's say male, living in the suburbs with a spouse, 2 children and a mortgage.  The family income is average for the culture they live in.  The man adores his children, loves his wife, and there is little he wouldn't do for any of them.  He works 5 days a week, comes home tired, tends to garden and home maintenance on weekends.  He tries to take the family to something enjoyable every weekend.  He is faithful to his wife. He instills a value system in his offspring on a par with his own.  If we were God, there is no way we would send this man to hell.

When they first got together, the man and his wife felt this magical attraction. A chemistry. She seemed to put into words all the things he had been feeling.  She seemed to enjoy all the things he liked, a whole range of things, from fishing to playing poker.  Being a man, he didn't recognise that she, also, was trying to catch something. 

When the man sees a beautiful woman now, he momentarily admires the shape of her figure, occasionally dwells on imaginative scenarios for a few more seconds, and then rejects it all as totally destructive to his precious family.  He cannot understand paedophile or rapist mentality. He feels anger when those subjects are raised. And he understands why someone would put a bullet in a rapist or a paedophile.  If he had the courage and the means, he might possibly do so himself, especially if they were a threat to his own family.

His son comes home from school with a note from his teacher. The boy has been the victim of bullies in the playground.  He doesn't know how to defend himself. Dad decides to teach the boy some self-defence techniques. Next year, the note from the teacher accuses the boy of bullying others.  Dad dutifully tries to set the boy straight. But underneath he feels a small pride that the tables have turned.

His daughter nags and begs until she gets the horse she always wanted. The animal is on agistment some twenty kilometres away and now the weekend really becomes busy. The daughter fights with her brother for parental attention.  Quality time together becomes rare. The weekend seems to be a constant rush from one activity to another.

The wife is starting to feel neglected.  The husband has felt neglected since the children were born.  Both have taken it in their stride, knowing it will get better when the kids are older.  Now they only make love once a week.  And it takes five minutes. They never go fishing or play poker. Both are tired all the time.  But it will get better.

In the family above we will probably have recognised at least part of ourselves. Our own personal agendas play a large part in our decision making. If the four family members are average, 'happiness' at least seems to have been put on hold. They are all victims of their circumstances, but they got there through selfishness, through pursuit of their own agendas.  

And please don't get me wrong. Of course there are many happy families and wonderfully loving relationships.  But we are all human, all selfish to some extent, all with personal agendas we are looking to fulfil.


There were many families just like this one in Germany early last century. They were average people. No one would have thought any of them capable of committing the atrocities that ensued. The mindset that finally was capable of betraying neighbours, friends and even family members was cultivated through a progressive indoctrination working on human weaknesses.

First, a gradual acclimatisation to the theory of evolution, (appealing to that part of the human psyche that doesn't want to acknowledge a Creator), paved the way for the concept that we are not all created equal. Some of us, they said, fit on a different branch of the evolutionary tree - a perfectly logical conclusion if you believe in evolution.  Hence, it made sense that some people are less evolved than others.  And if less evolved, inferior.  This was the basis for the Nazi tenet of maintenance of 'race purity' and the justification for ethnic cleansing 

Next, the target human weakness was jealousy (remember, 'you shall not covet'). The Jews in Nazi Germany controlled most of the finances.  They were bankers and lawyers and doctors.  To an objective observer, this would be evidence of superiority, not inferiority; of greater intelligence not less. Yet the powers of influence struck fertile ground. They managed slowly to turn envy into resentment and resentment into hatred.  Evolutionary indoctrination continued simultaneously, giving psychological justification for these feelings.  Without this preparatory tilling of the ground, the seeds of depravity would never have sprouted. 

But it still is a long way from hatred to killing. Our value system in the West still embraces Biblical values, even if many deny Biblical truth.  We value human life.  The people in Nazi Germany valued human life. So the next human weakness to become a target was fear.  And they combined that with an appeal to greed. They dangled the carrot and waved the stick. Supporters of the Nazi doctrines were given holidays and security. Dissenters were threatened with the same fate as the Jews they might wish to protect.  

Those that joined the Nazi regime turned into cruel 'yes' men, in a transformation that turned average 'good' people first into bullies and then into sadistic torturers, who thought nothing of killing babies in cold blood.  The inhumane atrocities they became capable of defy imagination. It truly was the personification of evil. From there it was only a small jump to horrendous crimes against humanity. Those who remained on the sidelines became so obsessed with protecting their own safety and possessions that they were prepared to betray their closest friends to these fiends. And sometimes their own family.  Whilst the truth of what was happening to those taken away was generally suspected, most civilians went into denial, convincing themselves these millions were just being 'relocated'.

Acts of heroism usually are instantaneous reactions, where the hero doesn't have time to think about the consequences of his actions and just 'does it'.  The opposite, turning an ordinary person into a monster, usually takes a long time.  Put a gun in the hands of ordinary men, and few can cross the line of aiming it at another and pulling the trigger. The transformation of good people into bad people in Nazi Germany was the result of gradual and deliberate mind manipulation, where all had ample time to consider the consequences.

What is the greatest worry is that all these people, were people just like you and me.

Nazi Germany was not the only example of 'good' people turning bad.  Ethnic cleansing has happened in more countries than we might like to believe.  And many of these occurred after World War II, showing the world never learns. Acts of terrorism are becoming an almost daily event, most performed in the name of God. Our own countries have sponsored terrorism, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes deliberately.  Saddam Hussein used weapons and chemicals supplied by the West to kill people in his own country. The USA sponsored terrorist acts in Central America. No one is innocent. Nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki speak for themselves.  And we have killed many more civilian Iraqis in our 'righteous' war against terror than Westerners were killed on 9/11.

At the same time, there have been many testimonies of incredible bravery and sacrifice during the Nazi reign. Many of those brave people were not 'instantaneous' heroes.  They saw the onset of evil and deliberately chose to oppose it over an extended period. Many of these were not Christians, showing that there is a definite capacity within unregenerate man to put aside his selfishness. Is it all to do with genetics? Are we genetically programmed to be selfish or evil or self-denying? 

That's what Satan would like us to believe.  It dumps us straight back into the trap of evolutionary thinking. It paves the way for elimination of those among us who are believed to be 'born' evil.  Or inferior.  Before we know it we are back into ethnic cleansing.  It takes God out of the equation. It denies the existence of a spiritual realm and relegates all reasoning into a material world of chemical reactions.

The programming of the mindset of whole populations has become a sophisticated tool for achieving the personal agendas of just a few. They do this by selectively releasing carefully calculated information that the masses fit into their framework of knowledge, thereby reaching desired, but not necessarily correct, conclusions.  The recent war in Iraq is only one example.  

The reasons we are vulnerable to such mind manipulation are:


•We are selfish
•We are not objective
•We are ignorant of all the facts
•We are naive
•We are greedy. 



I don't need to quote you Bible verses to establish the existence of a spiritual realm. If we are going to believe in Jesus and salvation through Him, it makes sense to believe what He told us.  And if there is such a thing as a spiritual realm, it makes sense that it is filled with spiritual forces not immediately evident to the naked eye. And it makes sense that many of these forces have evil intent, if not being evil essence itself. Jesus wouldn't have busied Himself with casting out demons if it wasn't so.  Assuming His 'casting out' was not an act of genetic engineering, (which, if anything, would have made it the most outstanding miracle of all), He was actually banishing evil entities in another dimension.

We are dealing here with Satan and his cohorts.  Technically, Satan was defeated on the cross when Jesus died.  But that doesn't mean he has packed up his bags and gone home with his pointy tail between his legs. Jesus' death and resurrection means that we now have access to the means for appropriating victory over his shenanigans into our lives.  The power for victory is available now, whereas it wasn't before Jesus died.  To appropriate that power, we need to surrender totally to Him.  Usually when we come to Jesus for the first time, we surrender a large part, but not all.


Let's take a smoking, drinking, swearing, money-hungry adulterer who meets Jesus for the first time.  He comes repentant for his bad ways and surrenders his smoking, drinking and swearing habits. However, he has gambling debts which can only be resolved by having another bet.  And the relationship with the mistress? Let's just say it’s complicated. 

Many, if not all of us, carry to the grave little areas of our life which we are unwilling to surrender.  They might be as small as that TV program we like to watch or the food we eat too much of.  As I write this, a number of my own come to mind. Each one makes us vulnerable to an assault from the spiritual realm.

While we continue to be vulnerable, the repeat of history remains an unfortunate but nevertheless very real prospect. We may like to think that it couldn't happen here, in our own backyard. We are good people and we have the capacity to love.  We treasure our freedom. Maybe we are better than those people in Nazi Germany. And then again, maybe we are already in denial.

If I read Revelation of John correctly, at the end of time the whole world will turn against Christians, at least those who refuse to take the mark.  Who knows, maybe at that time they will decide that born-again Christians are genetically inferior to the rest of the world, having identified a gene predisposing us to repentance.  And maybe that will be sufficient cause for the rest of the world to betray us to the latest maniacal dictator. 


The Bible tells us the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Some translators have tried to soften that by inserting ‘kinds of’ between ‘all’ and ‘evil’, however the original Greek does not contain those words. It is an interpretation, not a translation. ‘The love of money’ is a translation of the Greek ‘philarguria’, meaning ‘fondness of silver’, but generally inferring materialistic avarice. ‘Selfish greed’ would be very close to the original meaning, especially if you read it in the context of what Paul is saying to Timothy.

‘Root’ comes from the Greek ‘rhiza’ and can have both a literal and metaphorical meaning. Here it is obviously metaphorical, meaning ‘source’ or ‘origin’. ‘All’ comes from the Greek ‘pas’, and literally means ‘every’. 

Read in context, Paul is explaining to Timothy that every evil deed has its origin in selfish greed. The love of money is not a love of paper with pictures and numbers on it. It is a love of everything it will buy, from luxurious surroundings, to power over others, to fame and admiration. All the things that focus on self as number one. All the things that provide an opening for attack from the spiritual realm.


All of mankind is born selfish.  All of us are vulnerable to evil influence. 

In our wealthy Western culture, we have lost the intimacy of relationship with God that is somehow made possible and enhanced when we are poverty stricken. Just as we played 'doctors and nurses' when we were kids, we now play 'Christians'. We use the constructs of Christianity as a framework for supporting our personal compilation of preferred morals and values.  We build our lives on that framework and in the process can't help but receive a touch from God every so often. But we are playing just around the corner from where the real action is. 

This is not what God wants for us, an occasional touch and an occasional victory. He wants for us a permanent walk of victory over the evil forces of darkness that continue to plot subversion of God's eternal purpose.  He has provided the Way for that victory: total submission to Jesus and total surrender of our personal agendas.


Are all unregenerate people innately evil?   I don't think so. All are born innately selfish, which is not the natural state God intended for us. All are also innately capable of putting aside their selfishness.  This is where our free will comes into play.  It is our self-seeking nature that exposes us to evil influence and renders us vulnerable to temptation.  We need to be saved from ourselves and evil influence.

Pure evil comes from another dimension, the spiritual realm.
 Whether born-again or not born-again - any area of our life which has not been utterly surrendered to Jesus remains vulnerable to attack.

What don’t we like about God?  On the one hand, we resent being told we are not good enough to share eternity with Him.  And on the other hand, we do enjoy our occasional little flings with the ‘dark side’ now and again. So we wonder if we really want to spend eternity in the presence of never-ending Holiness.