Summary: The Bible unmasks evil so we can see it as it is and avoid it at all costs.

Understanding Evil

II Timothy 3:1-4

Purpose: To show what evil really looks like.

Aim: I want the listener to know what evil really is and turn away from every form of it.

INTRODUCTION: Paul is warning Timothy that there are difficult times ahead. This means that life was going to get troublesome, trying, uneasy, hard, violent, threatening, and dangerous. In fact, the only other time that the Bible uses this same word is in the book of Matthew when two demon possessed men who, “were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way” (Matthew 8:28 NAU).

Paul, the most visible leader of the Christian church, was just about to be executed for preaching Christ and he knew that things would not be easy for Timothy.

What kind of outlook should we have on the future? We can either be pessimistic and expect everything to fall apart, or we can be blindly cheerful and ignore what is happening all around the world. Paul, on the other hand, gives us a realistic view of the world and then he tells us in verses 10-17 what we should do about it.


1:1-2:13 I. How Should a Christian React to Stress?

2:14-26 II. How Should a Christian Relate to Fellow Believers?


3:1-17 III. How Can a Christian Reside in a Hostile Culture?

Do you realize that the average person in the world hates the Gospel? Why? The Gospel insists that we are rotten sinners who have NO ability to make ourselves good enough to satisfy God and that Jesus is the ONLY solution to our sin problem.

Jesus warned us that we would be hated just because we follow Him: ☛ John 15:18-21 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. (NAU)

The world also hates us because we believe Jesus when He said, John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (NAU) John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (NAU)

In order to keep from losing our minds we must,

Vs.1 A. See the big picture

It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of life and never really see life in its proper context. Paul begins by giving us two important truths.

1. Jesus may come at any time “in the last days”

Daniel chapter nine gives us the big picture of human history.

☛ Daniel 9:24-27 24 “Seventy weeks [490 years] have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. [this is 482 years] 26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, [this happened when Jesus entered Jerusalem and presented Himself as King of the Jews] and the people of the prince who is to come [the anti-Christ] will destroy the city and the sanctuary. [this happened in 70AD when the Roman general Titus tore down the Temple] And its end will come with a flood; even to the end [or the last days] there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (NAU)

Ever since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD we have been in the last days. Paul said that the “last days” were coming when he wrote these words.

So, we have been in the last days for over 2,000 years. Think of it this way: It’s like walking on a four-inch wide path that goes around the steep side of a tall mountain. You may still be on the path, but you can fall at any moment.

Paul said (I Cor. 10:11) that the “ends of the ages have come” upon us. If that is true, then shouldn’t we think often that Jesus could return at any moment. Christ’s last words to the church are: Revelation 22:20 “Yes, I am coming quickly” (NAU).

Jesus told us, Luke 12:43 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. (NAU)

Notice how Paul put it:

☛ 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (NAU)

Alexander Maclaren writes,

"The primitive church thought more about the second coming of Jesus Christ than about death or heaven. They were not looking for a cleft in the ground called ’the grave’, but for a cleavage in the sky called ’Glory’. They were not looking for the ’undertaker’ but the ’uppertaker’. They felt that man’s chief end was to get right with God or be left behind when Christ returned."

2. Serving Christ is hard “difficult times will come”

The culture we live in hates Jesus Christ. For example, Jesus tells us that “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 NAU) and yet adultery is presented as a good and normal and even fun thing in the media. Do you condemn adultery or do you enjoy the world’s entertainment that glorifies adultery?

If people in the world do not reject you because of Christ, then ask yourself, When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone? This is why he says in verse 12, Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 NAU)

How can we deal with a culture that hates Jesus Christ?

Vs.2-4 B. Identify evil

What causes the last days to be difficult? Persecution? Poor housing? Lack of money or religious freedom? NO!! The last days are difficult because of sin.

Although more than six billion human beings live on this planet, there are only two types of people: Those that live for Christ, and those that live for themselves. Man tends to cover wickedness with nice sounding words. Mothers aren’t unloving when they murder their children, they have Post Partum Depression. Children aren’t disobedient to their parents, they have ADHD. People who steal from stores aren’t thieves, they have a mental disorder.

Let’s let God tell us what evil looks like.

Vs.2a 1. Lovers of self

What is sin? One person used the three letters to define it:

✔ S - Self

✔ I - Interested

✔ N - Nature

We are constantly being told that an emotionally healthy person loves himself. He is proud of himself. He is self-confident. The Bible says the opposite. We are told to love God with all of our hearts, not ourselves.

In 1977 Robert Ringer wrote a best-selling book with the title Looking Out for Number One. U.S. News and World Report described the ME GENERATION this way: "Gone are the march-ins, sit-ins, and campus unrest. Young adults today are not interested in the fire-brand speeches of yesterday’s Abbie Hoffmans and Eldridge Cleavers. Today they have new heroes - themselves."

Vs.2b 2. Lovers of money

If we love ourselves then it makes sense that we will love money, because it can get us what we crave.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NAU)

No matter how “ideal” we think our pleasure is, or how much we may enjoy it, we can only have it for a short time. Hebrews 11:25 . . . the passing pleasures of sin, (NAU

If you love yourself and money then you will be:

Vs.2c 3. Boastful

This describes the person who brags about their own accomplishments. One translation uses the phrase “empty braggart.”

Vs.2d 4. Arrogant

Literally means, “to show yourself above” or “to appear above.” This is a person who looks down on other people from his self-created pedestal.

This is the same attitude that Satan had when he sinned against God. Isaiah 14:14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ (NAU)

Vs.2e 5. Revilers

This means to speak evil against God. Psalm 73:9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. (NAU)

Vs.2f 6. Disobedient to parents

The most shocking thing about this statement is the context. Notice how God views this kind of sin. God thought that disobedience was so awful that in the OT rebellious disobedient children were stoned to death. Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. (NAU)

Vs.2g 7. Ungrateful

Sin twists the heart so that it can’t see good things as gifts. Because they are so self-centered they think that good things are “owed” to them. They think that the government, or the church, or those who have more than they do owe them something.

Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, . . . . (NAU)

Vs.2h 8. Unholy

This describes a person who breaks God’s law and man’s law. They live “by their own rules.”

Vs.3a 9. Unloving

Literally, “without family affection.” This is what leads mothers to abandon their children in dumpsters or seek an abortion.

Vs.3b 10. Irreconcilable

This word is used as an excuse for a divorce probably more than any other reason. This refers to a hatred that is set in cement. Two people become “irreconcilable” when one or both refuses to forgive.

Vs.3c 11. Malicious gossips

A malicious gossip is someone who falsely accuses another person. Anyone who crosses them becomes fair game for ugly accusations.

Vs.3d 12. Without self-control

These are people who have no power over themselves. They are slaves to their passions and desires. They become addicted to sin, but they caused their own addiction.

Vs.3e 13. Brutal

This word was used to describe a wild beast, especially a lion. These people will pounce on anybody who gets in their way.

Jesus said that in the last days, “lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12 NAU).

Vs.3f 14. Haters of good

Those who love evil will find themselves hating what is good. This reminds me that ✔ “Sin will always take you further than you want to go and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Vs.4a 15. Treacherous

This refers to someone who is a traitor to his country or his friends or even his own promises.

Matthew 24:10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. (NAU)

Vs.4b 16. Reckless

This has the idea of being headstrong or stubborn so that little or no rational thought is used when making decisions.

Vs.4c 17. Conceited

One translation says, “is swollen with conceit.” Over the years many have declared that Christianity would fail and fade away. John Lennon, the former Beatle is an example. He said, "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now."

All that John Lennon accomplished in this life will be blown away like dust off of an old book. Habakkuk 2:14 “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea. (NAU)

Vs.4d 18. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

Here is the sum of it. Many people may say that they love God, but when loving God interferes with loving themselves they will do what pleases them. There are no half way cures for our sinful natures.

We can’t cure our sin problem because we were born with it. Mark 7:21-22 21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. (NAU)

The only solution is to love God more than we love ourselves. Matthew 22:37-40 37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (NAU)

CONCLUSION: When you turn from your sin and trust Jesus Christ to forgive your sin, then you will find that there is a pleasure in Him that is greater than all the pleasures of this life.

Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. (NAU)

We can choose to love God or we will love ourselves.

✔ It is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. - C. S. Lewis