Summary: Judah had embraced wickedness in their lives... but why? Did they just wake up one morning and say "I’m going to be wicked?"

wOPEN: Why do people do “evil things?”

About 7 years ago (8/31/98), Charles Colson wrote that “A generation of liberals in academia and government has accepted the view that if only the evils of society – such as poverty, unemployment and racism – were overcome, crime would disappear.”

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, for example, expressed this notion when he wrote: “Healthy, rational people will not injure others.” In other words, poverty was the cause of crime.

A decade later, President Jimmy Carter used the same rationale to explain the widespread looting during the 1977 New York blackout. “Obviously, the number one contributing factor

to crime of all kinds, is high unemployment among young people.”

Eventually someone had to do a study to find out if that was true. Someone finally asked: is it the poor the unemployed/ the down trodden of this world that do evil things. A New York study of the 1977 rioting in New York revealed that:

45% of the arrested looters had jobs.

Only 10% were on the welfare rolls.

Furthermore, the study revealed that the looters stole things for which they had no use or need.

So, why did these people steal? Why do people do evil things? Several studies have dealt with this question and many agree with a Professor Thomas Sowell of Stanford University who wrote, “People commit crimes… because they put their own interests or egos above the interests, feelings, or lives of others.”

APPLY: In other words… people sin because they have made a choice.

I. In the days of Isaiah… many leading Judeans had made a choice

The people Isaiah was talking to were not street people. They were not vagrants or unemployed. They were the leaders of government, priests and people of responsibility. And yet, they had made a choice: they had chosen to live evil lives.

One person asked what happens if you spell “LIVE” backwards? You get “evil”.

A society filled with people who live their lives backward is capable of unspeakable evil. And that is what God was condemning Judah of: Look again at Isaiah 59:3-4

“For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things.”

No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.”

As Isaiah 59:7 puts it: “Their feet RUN to evil, And they MAKE HASTE to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.” (NKJV)

These people not only chose evil lifestyles, they ran toward them.

But… why would people CHOOSE to live like this?

Why would people CHOOSE to live their lives backward?

Did they just get up one morning and say:

“Hey, I think I’m going stain my hands with blood this morning!”

OR “I think I’m just going to just go out and tell lies and speak wicked things today”

(pause…) I don’t think so!

I think people ended up like this because they’ve made bad choices LONGGGG beforehand.

What kind of bad choices?

Well… the first bad choice people make is “listening to the wrong people”

In Proverbs 1 SOLOMON tells his son

“My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent… do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path; For THEIR FEET RUN TO EVIL, and they make haste to shed blood.” (Proverbs 1:16)

In other words… WHO we spend time with will influence HOW we think and live.

1 Cor. 15:33 tells us same thing Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

If I spend time around evil people…

I begin to act like them

I begin to accept their standards of right and wrong

EVEN if – initially - I don’t believe what they believe

ILLUS: Dr. James Dobson tells of a team of doctors who decided to conduct an experiment to study the ways in which group pressure influences young people.

To accomplish this, they invited 10 teenagers into a room and told them they were going to evaluate their “perception” in order to learn how well each student could “see” the front of the room where he sat.

The doctors said, “We’re going to hold up some cards at the front of the room. On each card are 3 lines – Line A, Line B and Line C – each of a different length…. When we point to the longest line, please raise your hand to show that you know it is longer than the others.” They repeated the directions to be sure everybody understood and then raised the first card and pointed to the top line.

What one student didn’t know was that the other 9 had been secretly informed earlier to vote for the second longest line. In other words, they were told to vote wrongly.

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