What is Good and Evil ?

by Baptist.org Editorial Team on January 1, 2012 · 1 comment

It seems everyone has their own definition of evil. To some, evil is anything with adverse effects to self. To others, evil is anything with adverse effects to society. Some even deny the existence of evil.  The most controversial discussion lies in what God says what Evil is.

However, we all seem to be able to identify evil when it is amplified. We have a gut response when we see evil. A man killing an elderly woman for her purse generates a repelling response. Parents killing their children for insurance money causes us to, perhaps temporarily, acknowledge the existence of evil.

The final realization of what evil is lies in what God says.

Most people have their own personal definition of evil. However, if you ask them if they are evil, they will likely deny it. One might make the excuse that, while they may do evil things, they are not
evil people. This immunity to being evil makes no logical sense. Most would agree Hitler was an evil person. What made Hitler evil, aside from doing evil things?

If a person lies, that person is a liar. If a person has an affair, that person is an adulterer. If the offence grants you a title for these examples, why not evil? The confusion in this matter is result of a their perception of “good.” Most would consider good the antithesis of evil. That which is good cannot be evil. That which is evil cannot be good.

According to the same logic applied to evil: if one does “good” things, then one must be a “good person.” People generally assume they have done “good” things. If good cannot be evil, and vice versa, then people must be either good or evil. If people do “good” and “evil” things they are either walking paradoxes, or we have a mistaken understanding of good and evil.

Biblical Concept of Good and Evil:

The Bible presents a very simple definition of Good and Evil:

  • Good – God
  • Evil – Everything else

While this may seem like an oversimplification, compared to the convoluted, paradoxical, self-justifying definitions presented by secular attempts, this simplification of good and evil makes a lot of sense. This definition of evil includes everything that is done apart from the will of God. According to the Bible, people are not walking paradoxes of good and evil. Everyone, because they are not God, is evil:


All of us have become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Isaiah 64:6

3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 

Romans 3:23

The indomitable question is found in Romans 3:6, “God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” The following verses highlight the foundation set in Romans 1-3.

3:7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

3:8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

3:17 And the way of peace have they not known:

3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:6-20


“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 11:13


I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Romans 7:15

It is important to make a distinction between “bad” and “evil.” Evil, Biblically speaking, does not imply the action is harmful to anyone (at least not immediately). Evil does not imply misfortune, greed, selfishness or malice. Evil is only the alternative to good.

A good analogy to better understand the relationship between good and evil would be light and darkness. Light is the product of photons which emit energy in the form of visible light. Darkness is the absence of light. Light exists as a reality. Darkness exists only as the alternative. Biblically, God defines good and good defines God. Good is the product of God. Evil is the absence of good; absence of God. Good exists as God. Evil exists only as the alternative.

Therefore, only that which is done by God or within the will of God is “good.” Everything else, by definition, must be evil.

Finally,  a comprehensive scan on all Biblical references to “good” and “evil” in single verses may be downloaded by clicking here; Bible Search

 



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Baptist.org Editorial Team

About Baptist.org Editorial Team

Baptist.org is a dynamic community of people that is passionate about being Baptist. Authored by a team of Pastors, and laymen, the site focuses on a variety of topics of interest to Baptists. Since beginning in 1995, Baptist.org has over 5,000 unique visitors a month and continues to grow each week.

  • Errol Symons

    Greetings from South Africa!
    Thank you for such an excellent explanation of what is good and what is evil. I lead a Life Group mainly comprising elderly folk; we will certainly enjoy your teaching on this subject. Thank you too for your excellent website. I am able to glean so much information from it. Keep up the good work for the Lord. God bless.