I will admit it. I have evil desires. There is evil in my heart. Evil is a lack of goodness. Moral evil is not a physical thing; it is a lack or privation of a good thing.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” ~Jesus | Matthew 7:11
As the philosopher J. P. Moreland has noted, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”
Or as the apologist Greg Koukl has said, “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that diminution, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.”
God is love. When I don’t love it is un-God-like and therefore evil. And an absence of love manifests itself in unloving behavior. The same can be said concerning God’s mercy, justice, patience, etc. The lack of these godly qualities in anyone constitutes evil. That evil then manifests itself in behavior that is unmerciful, unjust, impatient, etc., bringing more harm into the good world that God has made. As it turns out, we lack a lot: “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’”.
There is good news! God has given me a new heart. I am a new creation through the redeeming work of Jesus. My old life was crucified with Jesus. I’ve been raised to a new life.
God has given me the Holy Spirit. I am growing the fruit of the Spirit in my life. I am a child of God.
Moral evil is wrong done to others, and it can exist even when unaccompanied by external action. Murder is an evil action, but it has its start with the moral evil of hatred in the heart. Committing adultery is evil, but so is the moral evil of lust in the heart.
Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person” (Mark 7:20–23).
- Colossians 3:5 (NASB) —Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
- Matthew 5:29–30 — “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
- Romans 8:13 —for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.