Where Does Evil Come From?

good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45).

A scorpion wanted to cross the river. But he couldn't swim. So he asked a frog to carry him across. 

The frog refused. "I know what you'll do," said the frog. "You'll sting, and I'll sink to the bottom and drown."

"I wouldn't do that," insisted the scorpion. "If I did that, then I would drown the same as you."

So the frog was convinced, and they started out. Sure enough, halfway across the river the scorpion stung the frog. 

As they headed for the bottom the frog asked sadly, "Why did you do that? Now we're both going to die!"

And the scorpion said, "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help it. It's just my nature."

In Luke 6:45 Jesus is telling us that, like the scorpion, evil folk are producing evil because it's just their nature. 

There's a lot of evil happening in our world today. And some are left scratching their heads as to where this evil is coming from. From the injustice in Ferguson, Missouri that resulted in the killing of an unarmed teenager to the recklessness in Philadelphia that cost a mother and three innocent children their lives to the massacre of children in Sandy Hook Elementary by the deranged mind of Adam Lanza -- all of this evil we see results from the evil in the hearts of human beings. 

Let's look at a few keywords in this text: "good", "evil" and "heart" to (1) help us begin to make sense of the evil we see and to (2) show us what we can do to not be a part of the problem.


The Greek for "good" is agathos. Agathos is distinguished from kalos in the Greek. Whereas agathos means "good in a moral sense." Kalos is related to something's beauty, the way it appears. 

So the first keyword tells us that Jesus is not simply talking about "the beautiful people" of this world. While I am taking no swipe at Hollywood, Jesus is not here talking about those who walk the red carpet and are the talk of Gossip columns and TMZ. Jesus is talking about an inner quality. 


The Greek for "evil" is poneros. This refers to moral wrong. That which is wicked, evil, bad. This arises from our sinful inclinations.


The Greek for "heart" is kardia. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) says that "figuratively the heart stands for courage in various expressions, for the seat of rational functions, for the place of willing and planning and for the source of religious and ethical conduct."

If you see what I see then it becomes evident that humans need a spiritual heart transplant in order to produce good works. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Evil arises from our sinful inclinations. When you and I do wrong, it's just us being ourselves. The Psalmist confessed, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5). We mess up because we are simply doing what comes natural to us. 

We are born as slaves to sin. It is not until we decide to accept Christ that we can become children of God. We come into this world as enemies of the Kingdom. But the Word of God says that "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12). We may defect from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. We can become soldiers in the army of the Lord.

If you read Luke 6:45 without this understanding, you may be tempted to try to fix your behavior. But our little quick word study reveals that Jesus is simply stating some facts. The wrong that humans do simply comes from the seat of rational functions and the place of willing and planning. 

In this verse Jesus also lets us know that there are some whose actions are good. That begs the question: How in the world are they pulling that off?! Their actions are flowing from their heart. When the heart is surrendered to the Lord and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that heart, it begins to produce actions that are indeed foreign to our nature. 2 Cor. 5:17: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Let us invite the Spirit of Christ into our lives anew today that He might live out His life through our mortal bodies. 


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