Posted in theology

How did satan become so evil? Where did evil come from?

By Elizabeth Prata

The most asked question and the most offered objection to Christianity are the two in the headline. Philosophers have struggled for eons to describe and resolve “the problem of evil”. Sproul called it “The Mystery of Iniquity“. If you expect an answer to the questions above, I don’t have them. Not because I haven’t thought about them, nor because I am too dim to understand philosophy, but simply because the only revealed truth we have about satan, the Bible, is silent on the subject. And that’s good enough for me.

Continue reading “How did satan become so evil? Where did evil come from?”
Posted in theology

How to tell if a teacher or preacher is not spiritual

By Elizabeth Prata

In Exodus 3:6, Moses was afraid to look at God. Hagar marveled that she had an encounter with God and was still living. (Genesis 16:13). Jacob said the same. (Genesis 32:30). But Beth Moore claims that Jesus tells her all sorts of things, calls her ‘Babe’, speaks so casually to her in all their informal chats, where she and God “had a blast.” No.

EPrata photo

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom… and since people like Moore, not just celebrity preachers but many lay-people, have no fear, she lacks wisdom. Too many people have lost their fear of God for who He actually is and have lost their notion of how evil evil really is. Even have lost their definition of evil. Too many people think a Hitler-Holocaust level is the only evil. They think evil has to look black and be immediately recognizable. Saran is cleverer than that. He is the most subtle creature in the garden. He sends a smiling and seemingly kindly Joel Osteen to do his evil.

Continue reading “How to tell if a teacher or preacher is not spiritual”
Posted in prophecy, theology

What will become of the devil? Satan’s end

By Elizabeth Prata

Part 1: I will vs. I AM
Part 2: From Lucifer to Satan: The Devil’s origins

On Friday I posted a comparison of the statements in the Bible that satan and God made. The named angel Lucifer, later known as satan or the devil, said in his heart that he will ascend higher than the most high, and also made four other blasphemously rebellious declarations. These are found in Isaiah 14:13b-14.

God and Jesus had made several I AM statements declaring who He is. The more well-known I AM statements Jesus said are found throughout the book of John from chapter 6 to 15.

On Saturday I posted an essay exploring satan’s origins. At one time he was a holy angel. When God made the world, he had not fallen yet. Lucifer was praising God for His creation (Job 38:6-8). The holy angels had not fallen when God pronounced the creation very good. (Genesis 1:31). However, sometime after the world was made and after the 6th day, we meet satan in the garden, impugning God’s character and tempting Eve to rebel. By then, he was fallen and evil. Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 describe Lucifer’s fall.

Ever since Genesis 3 when we first meet satan, he has ceaselessly been stalking the world. His activity is to steal, kill, and destroy. His incessant desire is to usurp God and thwart God, and meanwhile, to send as many people to hell as possible. (John 10:10).

Will satan always do these things? What will happen when the Kingdom comes and Jesus is enthroned on earth for 1000 years, administering justice and ruling with His rod?

Well, God has plans for satan. He always has. His future plans for satan include the following.

After the rapture of the saints (the moment when God calls his church members dead and alive up to heaven) then God will unleash satan to do his worst. Jesus said this time will be the worst known on earth, ever. (Matthew 24:21-22). God will allow satan to do his worst because rebellious Israel still needs to be punished. Their punishment has not come. God paused his attention to Israel after His resurrection in order to build His church. (Matthew 16:18.) When the full number of the church is met, God will return His attention to Israel, overseeing their Time of Jacob’s Trouble, as the Great Tribulation is known. (Jeremiah 30:7; Romans 11:25).

During this period, Satan will be allowed to overcome the saints through the antichrist. (Revelation 13:7). He will hunt the Christians who come to faith after the rapture, and kill as many as possible. (Revelation 20:4). He will raise up, influence, and indwell the antichrist. The “whole world” marvels after this beast and acknowledges his power. (Daniel 7:23; Revelation 13:3, 5, 7). This is why Jesus said the time will be the worst ever on earth. It is the devil’s time.

Though satan has the earth’s kingdoms in his hand at this period of time, (Luke 4:4-6), and is god of this world, (2 Corinthians 4:4) he will finally be taken off the leash he has been on.

However sometime during the Tribulation, likely midway thorugh, satan’s access to heaven will be denied. He and his cohorts will be thrown out of heaven finally, and this enrages satan. Again, this will be a terrible time. Satan’s rage will drench the world in blood. Again, this is the sovereign will of God.

Then Jesus returns. When the iniquity is full and in His timing Jesus determines the punishment has been met, and Israel cries out for the savior, He will put a stop to satan’s evil acts. Satan will be thrown into the abyss for 1000 years and locked up. (Revelation 20:3).

After the thousand years, satan will be let loose again, for a very short time, in order to deceive the earth a final time. You see, after Jesus returns, the earth’s people repopulate. Some saints survive the Tribulation and they procreate. Even though Jesus will be present one earth ruling and reigning, sin will still be present on the earth and in men’s hearts. In order to determine who will be allowed into the final kingdom after the earth and heaven is remade, satan will be allowed to deceive to draw them out.

Those people who harbored blasphemy in their heart will be drawn to the serpent, whose venom will overflow. They war against Jesus. The war will be quick, though. See Revelation 20-

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,

And satan finally, blessedly,

was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10).

In summary, the schedule of events for satan over the next years is:

–Church Age: allowed to do evil, on a leash
–Tribulation: Allowed to do evil, off the leash.
–Millennium: Bound in the abyss
–End of Millennium: Allowed out of the abyss, mounts a war, is quashed immediately.
–Eternal state: Tormented in the Lake of Fire forevermore.

Names: Satan is also known as the serpent, the dragon, and the devil. (Revelation 20:2).

Part 1: I will vs. I AM
Part 2: From Lucifer to Satan: The Devil’s origins

Further resources

Sermon: The Origin of Evil

Devotional: God’s Devil

Lecture: Before the Time (How demons operate)


Posted in discernment, theology

“Evil is a made-up concept”

By Elizabeth Prata

  • “I’m a good person”
  • “People are basically good.”
  • “There’s no such thing as evil.”
  • “Can we all just get along? Can we get along?” (Spoken by Rodney King whose 1992 acts of resisting arrest and beating by LA police was videotaped by amateur video & sparked massive riots in the city).

The unsaved mind rejects evil in the world. Why? Because then they would have to face their own evil. As cartoonist Walt Kelly’s character Pogo famously said,

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” 

In contrast to the world’s view of humanity, the Bible says of us humans that we are enemies of God, doing evil in His sight all day long. (Genesis 6:5).

  • “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one”; (Romans 3:10)
  • For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
  • The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:19)

Emerging this month is a tragic story out of Tajikistan. Two idealistic and optimistic twenty-somethings from the US decided to quit their jobs and see the world. Being avid cyclists, they decided to do it by bicycle. They pooled their life savings, which wasn’t much since they were 27 year olds who’d just started their professional careers in Washington DC.

I can understand that urge to be a part of the world by seeing it and experiencing it. I did that with my husband. We both quit our jobs, and being avid sailors, bought a boat and sailed down the coast of the US to the Bahamas to see what we could see. Some people just have a wanderlust.

These two twenty-somethings remarked again and again that the people they met along the way were kind and hospitable to strangers.

As they biked along with two others they had met, one from Switzerland and one from the Netherlands, a car loaded with men spotted the group. The men turned the car around, sped up, aimed for them, rammed all four cyclists, ran them over, and then on the dusty roadside they stabbed the cyclists to death like dogs. They later claimed allegiance to ISIS and vowed to kill all unbelievers.

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan had documented their journey on their blog and on Instagram. They basked in the hospitality of strangers, reciprocated kindness, and loved the world as it unfolded before them. Some say they saw it through dreamers’ eyes.

An unsanctified mind overlooks the evil we do, rejecting that our own evil is against a holy God for which we deserve punishment. The world is evil. It is under the dominion of the evil one. Unsanctified minds see the world as good, because they are so embedded in evil they don’t see it. The cyclists tragically misunderstood human nature, in choosing to believe that the surface kindness they experienced went deeper than it did.

Here is Jay explaining their worldview, written in a blog last April as they entered Morocco.

You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse.

I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.

There is a difference in believing that we can connect with people on a friendly level despite differences in shared values, and realizing that we humans are all the same because we share the most fundamental similarity of all: an inherent evil.

Evil most certainly is not a make-believe concept. Satan was highest and most beautiful of the cherubim until the day evil was found in him. (Ezekiel 28:15). He perpetuated his unrighteousness with Eve and Adam, persuading them to rebel against God. Ever since, humans have been born evil. (Psalm 51:5).

I was born evil. Jay and Lauren were born evil. They did evil every day of their lives (Romans 5:12). It is important to recognize evil for what it is. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines evil by first stating that what is morally good is not what human society decides is in its best interest, but what the revealed will of God declares. Evil is opposition to God’s declared will. Psalm 5:6 says that God hates evil.

Recognizing one’s one evil and our own culpability before a holy God is a first step in understanding our need for Jesus. His Gospel commands us to repent of evil. If one denies that evil exists, then one is effectively stating that one does not need Jesus. We need Him to rescue us from our evil. It’s strange to think that the hopeful, evil-denying bikers are seen by God as just as evil as the ISIS men who stabbed them to death.

The question of the reality of evil, is not just a philosophical debate. When one eventually enters the other side of the veil, there are two destinations. One is for evil people. The other is for forgiven evil people. Evil is indeed real. But the grace of God gave us His Son, who took on all of God’s wrath for those evil deeds we do, and God punished Him instead of us evil-doers. If we repent of our evil deeds and ask Jesus to forgive us, He will. Otherwise, on His Day when many say to Jesus that they were good people,

Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:23 NIV)

This isn’t an academic issue. It’s a heart-rending issue. I’m not making light of the cyclists. In the world this very day, four sets of parents are mourning the loss of their children. Mothers are weeping and fathers are mourning. Evil is very real. The parents know it. Evil took their children. But the fatal flaw in that thinking is believing that they themselves are not evil.

Satan delights in deluding people that evil either doesn’t exist, or it’s a problem ‘out there’… or ‘somewhere else.’ The reality is, evil is in every heart. Only repenting to Jesus for our evil thoughts, speech, and deeds can absolve us of being punished for it.

If Jay and Lauren were not saved (and I suspect they were not), it is too late for them. It is not too late for any person still consciously drawing breath to appeal to the Son for forgiveness of our own evil.

FMI on the cyclists:

The Danger of Being Dreamers

ISIS Terror Attack on Cyclists

I’m always interested in passing along sermons, essays, or books that discuss evil from a biblical perspective. There are a lot of kooks out there ‘teaching’ about the devil and his demons. This sermon from Grace Community Church is good. I listened to all of it. It’s called The Domain of Darkness,  and teacher Chris Gee focuses on satan, demons, hell and what the Bible has to say about them.


Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

A Response to the Las Vegas Shooting

I did not know about the massacre in Las Vegas until this afternoon. I read about it on my lunch break, and I was absolutely crushed. It is the worst mass shooting in US history, surpassing the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that occurred in June 2016, that killed 49 people and wounded 58 others.

Below, the windows of the hotel room from which the shooter blew out in his rampage against humanity…and God. (Psalm 51:4).

Photo credit: John Locher/Associated Press

Staying for an extended time at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, man named Stephen Paddock has been named by officials as the Texas man who apparently or allegedly used one of a number of available guns in his possession to massacre 58 people attending a concert below, and injuring 515 others. He shot out his hotel room windows and rapid fired into the crowd. Terror reigned for 10 long minutes, while people dropped all around. Others huddled behind makeshift shelters, while others lay motionless on the ground wondering if this was their last moment on earth.

Inevitably, after a mass shooting or terror incident like this, there is outcry and perplexity as to the nature of evil. Why do these things happen? Why are some people so evil? Why does God allow this? These are common questions bounced around on the interview shows, pews, or dinner tables subsequent to events like this.

I came across a tweet by a woman recently wondering about a fictional character named Thulsa Doom that appears in stories, comics, and movies. She wrote:


I know the author of the tweet and her husband, neither of them believe in Jesus as savior.

If one is not a believer, they are still led by satan, the father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning. If one is saved and believes in Jesus, they have come to the light and are no longer evil, but holy. There are only evil people, and holy people. They might be totally nice people, but they are evil because they are rebelling against God and they refuse to believe on His Son. (John 6:29).

However, the unsaved never, ever, ever understand the nature of evil. Rejecting evil would be rejecting their very selves, their nature, and their worldview. But people still wonder. The big question of evil is ever-present.

After 9/11/2001 John MacArthur delivered a sermon addressing the issue of that terrible day when Muslim terrorists attacked the United States by flying planes into buildings and killing many thousands of people. There is a justified and mournful anger we feel when sin has reached a level of such evil. MacArthur said at that time,

But all of that frames up a kind of anger that is, I guess, what we could call “holy anger,” or “righteous indignation,” as it’s been called. I think…I think we have to be angry at what sin has done to this world. I think we have a right to be angry at the wretchedness of sinful people. I think we have to be angry when…when life is taken because murder…that’s murder…all of these are acts of mass murder, we certainly have a right to be angry with a mass murderer. We have every right to be angry with a man who shoots up and kills his family, as we’ve seen in the last few days out here on the west coast, a couple of places, one in our own area. We have every right to be angry with a man who walks laden down with bombs into a pizza parlor in Jerusalem and blows up 21 people. And it isn’t that our anger is reserved just for the man himself, although it is certainly right to have a righteous anger against one who violates the command of God not to kill, one who is so wicked and so wretched as to take life. It’s a bigger anger than that. It’s anger with the whole of the unrighteous reality that exists in our fallen world.

But … the wages of sin is death. Death exists and it is going to happen to each and every person (save those who are glorified in the unique forthcoming event of the rapture). Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed to man to die once, then the judgment.

Four years ago a shooter entered an elementary school and shot 20 small children and 6 adults. It was terrible. Pastors all around the world tried to help their congregants understand this evil, an evil so foreign that it defies comprehension. Pastor John MacArthur made some remarks prior to beginning his sermon that Sunday, and his comments are biblical and helpful then and they are the same today in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. The clip is five minutes and I have transcribed much of it below. A Pastoral Response to the Newtown Massacre

It’s important to be able to answer the questions when they come to us about why things like this happen. I’ll give you some things to think about.

But first, understand that to a severe degree this was a young man whose life was given over to satan. Satan is a murderer from the beginning. He is the ultimate killer who, in effect, brought temptation to Eve which killed the entire human race. So he [the shooter in Newtown] is an agent of satan in every sense.

You also know from the New Testament that God has turned over to satan the power of death – but only within the limits within which God will allow him to operate. So yes, this is a satanic act.

At the same time we know from Genesis verse 50:20 that man meant it for evil but God meant it for good. The good in this is that very one of those little children entered the presence of Christ in the eternal. Such is the kingdom of heaven. God gathered them to himself’…

The other message is this. Everybody is going to die and you don’t know when. You better be prepared. You are not in charge of when your death will take place, necessarily, and you need to be ready by putting your trust in Lord Jesus Christ. No one died who was not going to die. Everybody faces that. The only salvation is in Jesus Christ.

The lesson here is that sin in the world means those who are enemies of God are evil, and they do evil things, like murder.

However, God means it for good. Some good, somewhere or some time, will occur. If any of those who died were saved, the good is that they are now are enjoying eternity with their Groom. Salvations might occur. Other Good will come about we are not privy to as yet. However, God meant it for GOOD.

The next lesson is that everyone dies. It might be in a horrific shooting or cancer or a freak accident, but death happens to us all. Therefore the question is not ‘why do these things happen?’ The question is, ‘after these things occur, what happens next?

Jesus is our only hope. He IS hope. He welcomes those who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith. May this horrific event be used for GOOD in your life and your heart and your mind. May it result in a holy GOOD in ways we will later find wondrous. Meanwhile, God’s wrath is upon the ungodly because sin still reigns in this world. Jesus is the hope.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

5 Indicators of an Evil Heart

This past February I wrote a two part series on the problem with evil. The problem with evil is, its beauty. I’d written about how hard it is for us, even saved Christians, to grapple with a very present evil in our lives, and the difficulty of identifying it correctly. The worst evil is so beautiful, so harmless-seeming, so gentle, that our minds often refuse to discern it.

Part 1, Part 2

Leslie Vernick at the Association of Biblical Counselors wrote an essay titled

5 Indicators of an Evil Heart

In her introduction, she writes:

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.
I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

She summed up exactly what I’d been writing about a few months ago, but shorter. It’s clear, scriptural, and helpful. Of course, I hope you never have to encounter a truly evil person, but if you do, this piece will help you discern it.

The piece5 Indicators of an Evil Heart is organized into ten slides with a photo and a short blurb, with scripture, that help the  counselor, pastor or layperson identify evil from a temporary stumble. I offer this essay to you as a very good resource.

Text version here


Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

The problem with evil is its beauty. Part 2

In part 1, I began with a reminder that evil exists. This reminder is necessary nowadays due to the increasing penchant of people to deny the fundamentals of the faith.

I also established that though we are all evil pre-salvation, there are degrees of evil within people that are more deadly than others. Not everyone is as bad as they could be, but some people are. These essays are about how not to be deluded if you unfortunately encounter one of these more evil people.

I ended the previous essay by showing that two of the most beautiful living organisms in the world are also beautiful, the very deadly water hemlock plant, and the deadly but beautiful cone snail. Oftentimes it is the most beautiful that is the most deadly.

In this essay, we will discuss specifically how evil comes in a beautiful package, and then end with a final warning not to be deceived.

The world wants you to think that evil is only the malevolently grinning jack-o-lantern on the left. However, it is actually the handsome and charismatic serial killer on the right. (Ted Bundy)

In this post-modern society with saturating images coming at us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, we’re told by image-makers that evil looks like a Joker with smeared makeup, like a Jason with a hockey mask, or bloody axes with screaming teenagers in the background. Satan is the universe’s most subtle creature and he knows that’s just too easy.

Evil is actually not a cartoon character on the left but the gentle, wannabe artist Adolph Hitler on the right.

Left, cartoon character evil Joker. Right, all too real Adolph Hitler as a boy

In fact, evil is the soft-spoken, meek priest who molests your children. Evil is the diligent and organized masterful orator named Adolph Hitler who secretly hates Jews and will burn them in ovens. Evil is not the cartoon character Cruella De Ville, but the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was beautiful, of the nobility, but history’s worst female murderer.

Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (August 1560 – 21 August 1614) was a Hungarian noblewoman and alleged serial killer from the Báthory family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary. She has been labelled by Guinness World Records as the most prolific female murderer, though the precise number of her victims is debated. Báthory and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young women between 1585 and 1609. The highest number of victims cited during Báthory’s trial was 650. Wikipedia

Genesis 6:5 says that The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

So by this we know that all non-saved people are evil. However, does it surprise you when I say that some people are working in league with satan more closely than others? That all have sinned, but there are degrees of sin? And if there are degrees of sin, there are degrees of sinner? As is stated in this Ligonier essay,

It’s clear that we have different degrees of sin when we consider the warnings of Scripture. There are at least twenty-two references in the New Testament to degrees of rewards that are given to the saints in heaven. There are different levels, different rewards, and different roles in heaven. The Bible warns us against adding to the severity of our judgment. Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). Jesus measures and evaluates guilt, and with the greater guilt and greater responsibility comes the greater judgment. It’s a motif that permeates the New Testament. RC Sproul, Are There Degrees of Sin?

These are the personality-disordered narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths of the society. In no case that I know of do these evil people approach us with ragged clothes smelling of sulfur and gripping a bloody axe. In no case that I know of does an evil woman wearing a Dalmatian coat and smoking an elongated cigarette cruelly cackle to your face, thus alerting you to her evil. These more evil people will always appear as kind, beautiful, and helpful. They will appear never to hurt a fly and will tell you with all apparent sincerity that they want the best for you.

These more evil people are people with no conscience. These are the people who actually revel in the chaos they create, and they do it on purpose. These are the people who never murder, never cheat on their wives or husbands, never seem to do a harmful thing. Yet these are the people who make absolutely no attempt to apologize, reach agreement, be conciliatory, strive for peaceable harmony, or anything close to the normal relationship currency we’re used to. They lie, manipulate, gaslight, control, and they do it all with a smile.

They will seem to be kind, but they will not be. If unfortunately encountering one of these people, we will ask ourselves,

‘Did my friend just lie to me, again? Can’t be, probably a mistake.’
‘Their actions show that they hate children, but that can’t be, I must be mistaken.’
‘They don’t seem to even care that they are causing chaos and upset in our marriage. Can’t be, I am likely be wrong on this.’

It’s not a communication error, it’s not your fault, it’s not just a mistake that can be cleared up. It’s that the person is evil. Though we strive to give people the benefit of the doubt, and we should, some people are just plain evil. Fact. They won’t murder you, but they like to hurt you in just as evil ways, in the sweetest manner possible. Not just once, but every day, as a life goal.

Though I don’t normally seek wisdom regarding the human condition from Psychology, in the case of extremely evil people, the following 16 key behavioral characteristics that define psychopathy may prove helpful. We infrequently encounter evil in daily life in the fuller force I’m speaking of here, and our minds always will want to reject that that is what’s happening.

From Psychology Today, we read that Hervey Cleckley’s clinical profiles of How to Spot a Psychopath include:

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out
  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
  • Failure to follow any life plan

In my life I’ve encountered incompetent boobs, maniacal windbags, effective liars, grande cheats, and unrepentant adulterers. I myself was an unrepentant sinner for 42 years prior to salvation. Those sins can be dealt with in a different way than the purer evil of the psychopath, sociopath, and disordered narcissist can. In addition to being a sinner and encountering sinners every day, I have also unfortunately encountered a couple of psychopaths. These evil people are rarer but they do exist. I read a good book a many years ago called The Sociopath Next Door. In that book, author Dr. Martha Stout offers helpful advice. Even though I am not an expert on these more evil people, I optimistically tend to disagree with her statistic that 1-in-24 people are sociopaths. At least, I hope not! Dr. Stout writes,

How do we recognize the remorseless? One of their chief characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma that makes sociopaths more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They’re more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving us easily seduced.

Their masquerade is helped by their personal charm, beauty, winsomeness, and intelligence. Years ago, when I came across one, it took me a long time to settle on the fact that their evil was in fact evil. By then a lot of damage was done.

But enough of personal comment and psychological theories. What does the Bible have to say about evil? It does come in a beautiful package. Don’t be lulled by Hollywood’s depiction of it and don’t be fooled if you unfortunately meet up with this kind of beautiful and deadly evil

The most evil person in the universe is also the most beautiful. It is said in of Lucifer through the lament in Ezekiel 28:12 that:

You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

Satan masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Light is beautiful, light is good. But the key word is masquerade. You must be able to see what is under the light and not be fooled by appearances.

So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:15.)

Here, the servants of which the Bible speaks are not only satan’s unholy angels who followed him into rebellion but also people falsely claiming to be followers of Jesus, but who aren’t. They disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, too.

The 2 Corinthians 11:15 verse

Suggests these servants, who may be the false apostles, actually serve Satan and stand as a threat to the Church (compare 2 Corinthians 11:13). Source, Faithlife Study Bible

These evil ones are disguised. The key words in the two verses for the purpose of this essay are that satan masquerades, and his henchmen (and women) disguise themselves. What they disguise themselves with are beauty, kindness, intelligence, righteousness, and light. Too often, people are reluctant to peer under the mask. Even more frequently when they do peer, they deny what they plainly see. That’s in defiance of what the Bible says to do. “For we are not unaware of satan’s schemes so that he would get an advantage over us.” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Don’t be unaware, lest satan outwit you and gain an advantage.

We are reminded again that Jesus warned in Matthew 7:15 that these especially evil ones will come in sheep’s clothing. They won’t appear to you in rags, or bloody tatters like the movies show, but in fluffy, pretty, white sheep’s clothing. Why are they especially evil? Because they do this under cover of Jesus’ name. Unsaved people are just sinners, evil in what they do but they cannot help it. (1 Cor 5:12). These especially evil ones I’m talking of come in the name of Jesus and use His name to perform their deeds. And they do it beautifully. Because they’re sociopaths. Charming, beautiful, and kind.

Satan made his evil look good and delightful, didn’t he?

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes…(Genesis 3:6a).

When I was in Europe, I never saw an ugly Catholic cathedral.

Milan Duomo. EPrata photo
Pisa, ‘Piazza Del Miracoli’ plaza of miracles, so named
because of the architectural beauty of the structures
built by genius and capabilities of man. EPrata photo

I am sure that the Asherah poles were beautiful too. They were hewn and carved idols, mentioned often in the Old Testament.

Sociopaths are remorseless and cannot love anyone except themselves. They have no conscience. They do not operate in the interpersonal the same way we do, in good faith, love, kindness, and repentance. Even sinners try to be good in their own way and attempt acts of kindness from a motivation to have a successful interpersonal relationship.

We seek peace, the especially evil one seeks chaos. We love harmony, they love destruction. They are accomplished at reaching their goals and they do it with a smile and a kind word. They kill joy, they annihilate faithfulness, they reject goodness. They do it all in beauty, and often, under the name of Jesus.

But God is beautiful too. So are his people. It takes diligence and discernment to detect the difference between the beautiful sociopath’s evil and the beautiful sister who’s simply stumbling. Between the psychopath’s gorgeousness and the sinner who just does what he does because he doesn’t know better.

Ultimately, God is Good and He will remove forever from His presence all evil and the people who bring evil. Pity the evil person and pray for their deliverance but do not tolerate their evil. Resist it. Rejoice that their evil deeds will be recompensed. Evil has a purpose, if merely to sharpen the Christian or greatly glorify God – and everything in between.

John Frame said in his book Apologetics to the Glory of God,

We cannot always understand why God has chosen evil events to accomplish these good purposes. We do know that God never foreordains an evil event without a good purpose (Rom. 8:28). There may be other reasons than the ones we have mentioned, either to be found in Scripture or to remain locked up in God’s own mind. We know that God has a reason for everything he does. Everything he does reflects his wisdom. But he is under no obligation to give us his reasons. 

Nevertheless, as we see evil used for good again and again in Scripture, can we not accept in faith that those evils which are yet unexplained also have a purpose in the depths of God’s mind? Again, we do not have a complete theoretical answer to the problem of evil. What we do have is a strong encouragement to trust God even amid unexplained suffering. Indeed, the encouragement is so strong that one would be foolish not to accept it.

Thus, the beautiful but deadly flower water hemlock, the gorgeous and intricately barbed cone shell, the charismatic serial killer, the remorseless but kindly-acting sociopath in your circle, all have their purpose. Do not deny that evil exists, do not forget that it comes in a beautiful package, do not avoid acknowledging it if it appears, but always remember, that all things work to your good and the glory of God. The psychopath with no conscience will be seared in hell forever, and we will be dining with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in joy and peace. Let his remorselessness be eternal. Let our gratitude be forever.


Further Reading:


 “What does the Bible say about a person who is a sociopath / psychopath?”

Answer: The terms sociopath and psychopath do not appear in the Bible. However, the Bible does mention behaviors that are characteristic of those that today are described by the nearly synonymous terms sociopathic and psychopathic.

In today’s criminal and psychological literature, a sociopath or psychopath is identified as one who is characterized by extreme self-centeredness and immaturity, shallow emotions (including reduced fear, a lack of empathy and remorse, low tolerance for stress, and little response to positive motivations), cold-heartedness, superficial charm, irresponsibility, impulsivity, criminality, a parasitic lifestyle and a desire to manipulate others. A psychopath is one who compulsively performs criminally selfish acts with no apparent conscience or concern about the welfare of his victims.

The Bible identifies such sociopathic and psychopathic behavior as among the severest moral and spiritual effects of man’s fall into sin. Jesus described such sins as arising from evil hearts (Mark 7:20–23). The apostle Paul identified godlessness as the root of such a deadly heart (Romans 1:28–32). The sociopathic heart produces the worst characteristics of sinful man’s nature (Romans 8:5–8), the worst effects of both genetic and environmental moral degradation. Early in human history, God wiped out all but eight people because of such universally incorrigible behavior (Genesis 6:5–13). Deuteronomy 21:18–21 prescribes for the Old Testament nation of Israel the legal consequence of such behavior: execution by stoning. Apparently, such behavior was considered by God to be so disruptive and damaging to the family and to society, so contrary to the character of the people that bore His name and supposedly reflected His image, as to be intolerable.

The New Testament does not offer specifics on civic dealing with these serious problems. Its teachings about morality and immorality of every kind, and its hopeful appeals and invitations to repentance, conversion, and transformed life in Christ, certainly apply to a psychopath as to any sinner. Paul, describing conduct that included sociopathic characteristics, wrote to one congregation of believers in Jesus Christ, “Such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11, emphasis added). God is able to rescue and restore to righteousness the most corrupt heart. See Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:1–17; Romans 7; Romans 8:1–17 and 28–30.

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

The problem with evil is, its beauty. Part 1

One of the problems with evil is that too often we have a disconnect between what we understand about evil in theory and what we see in real life. This two-part essay is about how to spot evil in real life, and includes warnings not to be lulled by the beauty of the vehicle bringing it.

First, let us be clear about the underlying premise. Evil exists. The Bible declares that evil exists. We must say that out loud because we live in the post-modern age. The faith is riddled with a skewed perspective that God is love, but that He is only love (and not holiness, wrath, or justice.) To listen to some, one would think that the faith is populated by people hand-holding along candyland stepping stones amid rainbows and unicorns. But the faith is a bloody, constant battle to vanquish evil, including the evil in ourselves. Evil’s lifelong effort is to besmirch, blot, and destroy the goodness of God. It’s to supplant God. Ours is a lifelong effort to overcome evil, to work to expand God’s kingdom, and to give glory to the Goodness of His Name.

We also remind ourselves that evil exists in order to rebut the skewed definition of the word tolerance in today’s faith. Sin is evil. Yet we’re told that tolerance means to accept one’s sin without remark. Like this on a Facebook Community Board:

In the old days that statement would mean that a person is looking for a church filled with saints who strive to be holy (nice), who do not judge one’s past as a sinner because they recognize they are sinners too (non-judgmental) and is populated with an inter-generational demographic because the Bible gives commands that apply to every age group, and the Spirit installs people in local churches from all ages in order to edify each other (young couples).

Nowadays that statement has come to mean the person would be looking for like-minded liberal people (nice) who won’t enact church discipline, preach against sin, or warn me about my attitude (non-judgmental), with young couples (because I select my church based on a ‘shopper’ mentality’ and not by leading of the Holy Spirit, or doctrine, or truth).

To rebut the modern culture, we must constantly remind ourselves of the basics. Today the basic reminder is … evil exists. Here are just a few verses from God’s word regarding evil.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:13)

We are told that fearing the Lord begins with hating the evil that he hates.

To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (Proverbs 8:13)

We are told to turn away from evil.

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)

We are told how to struggle against it.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(Ephesians 6:12).

We read in Romans 12:21,

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Evil exists. It’s not the occasional Hitler or Stalin. Evil haunts the Christian every day. The Bible gives clear instructions about how to deal with it.

We know all this. We read the Bible and any sensible Christian understands what evil is, the hazards that it poses and the need to resist, struggle, and overcome it. However that is not the problem. The problem is applying the Bible’s verses to life. This is especially hard to do it seems, when it comes to acknowledging that evil is in one’s midst. In our minds, evil is historical (Hitler). Evil is ‘out there’ (Chicago. Cambodia. The city. The country. Elsewhere…). But evil can be and is in your church. Your family. Your circle of friends. Your co-workers. It’s here and it’s everywhere.

Evil is beautiful.

Water hemlock is the deadliest plant in North America. Yet, so beautiful! Do not be deceived!

So pretty! So deadly! Source Alderleaf Wilderness College

Water hemlock is the most violently toxic plant that grows in North America. Only a small amount of the toxic substance in the plant is needed to produce poisoning in livestock or in humans. Livestock usually show signs of poisoning 15 minutes to 6 hours after they eat the plant; they may die within 15 minutes to 2 hours after signs appear. Cicutoxin is a severe convulsant and most animals die as a result of the asphyxia and cardiovascular collapse that occurs during the convulsions. Source: USDA

The cone snail is so pretty! But so deadly!

The bright colors and patterns of cone snails are attractive to the eye, and therefore people sometimes pick up the live animals and hold them in their hand for a while. This is risky, because the snail often fires its harpoon in these situations. In the case of the larger species of cone snail, the harpoon is sometimes capable of penetrating the skin, even through gloves or wetsuits. The sting of many of the smallest cone species may be no worse than that of a bee or hornet sting, but in the case of a few of the larger tropical fish-eating species, especially Conus geographus, Conus tulipa and Conus striatus, a sting can sometimes have fatal consequences. Source Wikipedia

Because we all sin, we’re all evil. (Genesis 6:5). As RC Sproul said,

When I sin, I choose my will over the will of God Almighty. By implication I’m essentially saying that I’m more intelligent, wise, righteous, and powerful than God Himself.” ~RC Sproul

That’s evil. But today I note that there is a special kind of evil that revels in the chaos it foments. It’s purposeful, gleeful, and in a league with satan that goes deeper than the stumbling Christian or the unknowing pagan. Often it’s in the midst of the most benign of situations, the most gentle of churches, the kindest-seeming of people.

When we encounter this deeper kind of evil, our minds want to suppress the truth of it. So, what does that kind of evil look like? More in part 2.