God On Film 2010 part 4
Me: The Problem of Evil
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 25, 2010
Why do we struggle so
much with the evil within us? Why can we never seem to get it under
control? Why do we spend so much of our lives living with shame and
guilt because we’ve given into those evil impulses once again?
know those old cartoons when someone has to choose between good and
evil, so an angel appears on one shoulder and a devil appears on the
other? Which one always wins out? The evil one, right?
Why is that? Why is that true not only in the cartoons but also in life?
continuing with our God On Film message series this morning, and the
movie we’re talking about today is the movie Despicable Me. And it’s
all about a guy dealing with the evil within him.
Before I talk about that, though, let me just ask you: when I say the
word “Despicable”, what comes to mind?
[AUDIO or VIDEO – Daffy Duck saying, “You’re despicable!”]
what comes to my mind. Every time I hear that word, I can’t help by
think about Daffy Duck. And he kind of made the word funny.
in the move Despicable Me, the guy really is despicable. He’s pure
evil. In fact, at the beginning of the movie… and I’m not going to give
away the plot… but at the beginning of the movie, this despicable
man—his name is Gru—comes across a boy who’s crying, and he notices
that the boy was holding an ice cream cone but the scoop had fallen on
the ground. So the man pulls out an animal balloon and shapes it into a
dog and hands it to the boy. And the boy is so excited… he had lost his
ice cream cone, but now he has an animal balloon and everything’s great
again. Which is when Gru pulls out a pin and pops the balloon.
that’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s despicable. He’s nasty. He’s
evil. And it’s his goal in life to become the greatest thief in the
world. And when he hears that someone else has stolen one of the
pyramids, he sets out to steal the moon.
But in order to do
that, he has to recruit the help of three orphan girls. So he fakes an
adoption, and brings them home. Take a look…
[VIDEO – GroundRules, available at MovieMinistry.com]
guy, eh? Gru starts out as pure evil. And like any good movie, he
gradually changes over the course of the movie and finds redemption.
so this morning, we’re going to talk about the evil within each of us.
We’re going to talk about where it comes from, why it holds such power,
and how we can find freedom. And you can use your notes to follow along.
look at several passages this morning, but we’re going to look mostly
at some verses from the book of Romans. Now, Romans is the sixth book
in the New Testament and the first of what we call “The Epistles”,
which is just a fancy word for letters. In fact, from Romans on, the
rest of the New Testament is simply a collection of letters that church
leaders wrote to different believers or groups of believers in
This particular letter was written by the
Apostle Paul around AD 57 to the Christ-followers—mostly
Gentiles—living in the city of Rome. Thus, it’s the Epistle to or the
book of Romans. If it were written to us, it would be the book of
And the first 11 chapters of the book are really about our struggle
with evil and God’s grace in the face of that evil.
And one of the things we learn early on in Romans and early on in life
My basic nature is evil.
There, aren’t you glad you came today?
But that’s what the Bible means when it tells us…
Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
means we all have evil within us. I know this to be true because I have
seen the onset of evil. I have a two year old son—I have seen the onset
of evil. Have you ever noticed how you don’t have to teach a child to
lie, to hit, to disobey, to grab, to push, to bite… you don’t have to
teach any of that. No, that all comes naturally. What you have to teach
children is NOT to do those things. Because that doesn’t come naturally.
The evil comes naturally; we have to teach them what is good.
in Despicable Me, it would appear the Gru was never taught the
difference. He completely gave himself over to his evil nature.
And we all have that nature. We’re born with it. In fact, in church
circles we call it the sin-nature.
let’s talk about sin. I know it’s everyone’s favourite topic. But
really, we need to understand what sin is if we’re going to be able to
deal with it.
There’s one elderly lady that I run into every
week or two, and one of her favourite expressions seems to be, “Oh,
that’s such a sin.” Problem is, she never uses it correctly. She
usually uses it in a context like, you go to the beach and it starts
raining, “Oh, that’s such a sin.” That’s not a sin! Or, you go all the
way through the Roll Up the Rim to Win season and you never win… “Oh,
that’s such a sin.” No… no, sorry. Not a sin. It’s unfortunate, it’s
bad luck, it’s poor timing… but it’s not sin.
So what is sin?
Well, I really need to make a distinction between Sin and acts of sin.
Usually when we talk about sin, we’re really talking about acts of sin…
those things that we or neglect to do that are against the perfect
standard of God. It’s lying, it’s cheating, it’s stealing, it’s
murdering, it’s lusting… those kinds of things are all acts, or
expressions, of sin.
But they all come from the sin-nature that is within us. The Bible
Luke 6:45 (NLT)
“For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
other words, what’s inside you finds expression outside you. Through
your words, and also through your deeds. So the acts of sin really stem
from the Sin within.
And while your parents may have taught you
right and wrong and you might have learned to control that sin
nature—you don’t always give in to those impulses—that doesn’t take
care of the problem. It addresses the symptoms, but that Sin nature is
still within us. And we do still lose control to it from time to time.
you ever find yourself doing something you don’t want to be doing, and
you think, “That’s not me. That’s not who I want to be. This is wrong.
I’m not going to do this anymore.” What happens? You end up doing the
same thing all over again, don’t you. At least I struggle with that.
And it’s frustrating… “I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m going to do
better. I’m going to be better. But the very thing I don’t want to do
anymore is exactly what I end up doing again and again and again. And
what I want to do I don’t do.
Going back to Romans, this is exactly what Paul was talking about in
Romans 7:19-20 (NLT)
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I
want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I
don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I
do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is
sin living in me that does it.
And so Paul talked about this
cycle of trying to escape from the evil sin-nature and failing time and
time again. And you can just sense how frustrating it was for him. And
I’m sure it led to a lot of guilt and shame.
Of course, some
people choose not to struggle against evil. They just give into it.
That’s what Gru did in Despicable Me. Some people think Sin is fun, or
exciting, or alluring. It’s tempting, because evil can be wrapped up in
a nice pretty package.
But let me tell you something about evil.
If you could ever see the corruption… the utter repugnance… of evil,
you would never be tempted by it. But most times, evil is wrapped up in
such a nice pretty package that it looks good. It seems right. It
appears to be what will bring you happiness. And only when it’s too
late do you discover its true nature.
I’ve told this story before, but I ‘m going to tell it again because,
well, I like it.
was a middle school in Oregon that faced a unique problem. Kind of a
funny problem, actually. You see, the custodian was constantly cleaning
lipstick off the mirror in the girls’ bathroom. It was a middle school,
and many of the girls were just starting to use lipstick. So they’d go
into the bathroom, put it on, and then they’d press their lips to the
mirrors leaving dozens of little lip prints.
principal decided to do something about it. So she called a number of
girls to the bathroom and met them there with the custodian. She
explained to the girls that all those lip prints were causing a major
problem for the custodian, who had to clean the mirrors every day. And
to demonstrate, she asked the custodian to clean one of the mirrors. So
he took out a long-handled brush, dipped it in the toilet, and then
used it to scrub the mirror. They never had a problem with lip prints
on the mirror after that.
Let me tell you something for when
you’re tempted. If you could only see the evil you’d be kissing, you
wouldn’t be attracted to it. Sin will take you farther than you want to
go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you
want to pay.
But that’s the Sin nature, and we are all born with it.
The end result of evil is death.
Boy, we just get cheerier and cheerier, don’t we? But that’s what Paul
tells us in Romans 6:23…
Romans 6:23 (NLT)
For the wages of sin is death…
In one of the other New Testament letters, James agrees with Paul…
James 1:14-15 (NLT)
comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to
evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don't be misled, my
dear brothers and sisters.
Okay, Gru never actually died in Despicable Me. Hey, it’s a cartoon!
But in really life, the end result of evil is death.
Now, the Bible actually talks about three different kinds of death…
• Physical Death
death entered this world because of the Fall of Humanity in the Garden
of Eden… because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned against Him.
Physical death is the kind of death that’s the most obvious to us right
now. It’s the death referred to in Hebrews 9:27…
Hebrews 9:27 (CEV)
We die only once, and then we are judged.
the death of our physical bodies… through old age, through illness,
through an accident… whatever. This tends to be the kind of death we
fear most right now, but in reality this is the least serious kind of
death. Here’s a much more serious kind of death…
• Spiritual Death
is the kind of death we suffer here and now because of our sinfulness.
And since we’re all born with that sin nature, even though we may be
physically alive we start out spiritually dead. What is spiritual
death? It’s the death of communion with God. It’s the death of
understanding our life purpose. It’s the death of the image of God in
Romans 6:13 (NLT)
Do not let any part of your body become
an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely
to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life.
And spiritual death in this life eventually leads to…
• Eternal Death
end result of our Sin… what we deserve because of the evil within us…
is Eternal Death. So what is Eternal Death? It is eternal separation
from God. It is an eternity removed from the Source of Life. When we
die physically, the Bible says we will face the Judgement. If our names
are written in the Book of Life, we will be pardoned and welcomed to
eternal life in Heaven. But if we are still spiritual dead, we will be
sentenced to eternal death in Hell. But that does not mean that we
cease to exist. That’s not what death means. It means that we spend
eternity removed from our Creator and the source of life. That was the
kind of death that Jesus was talking about in John 3:16 when He said…
John 3:16 (CEV)
loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so
that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never
Is He saying that we’ll never physically die? No,
because physical death is part of life. Is He saying, then, that we’ll
never spiritually die? No, it’s already too late for that. We’re all
born into that. So what He’s saying is that there is an eternal death
which involves being separated from God forever.
Despite the evil within me, God still loves me.
This is one of the most beautiful verses in the whole Bible. Paul wrote
in chapter 5 verse 8…
Romans 5:8 (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us
while we were still sinners.
we were still evil, while we were still sinful, God still loved us
enough to send His Son to die for us. Paul echoed this though in his
letter to the Christ-followers in the city of Ephesus…
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT)
God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we
were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ
from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
the extent of God’s love. It’s measureless. It’s beyond comprehension.
And nothing you could ever say, think or do could ever eliminate it.
And when Paul realized this, he penned these words…
Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death
can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our
fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of
hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or
in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to
separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our
And it’s because of point number 3… because God still loves us… that we
have point number 4…
No matter what I’ve done, I can still be redeemed.
Despicable Me, this is what eventually happens to Gru. He finds
redemption. And in his case, his redemption is triggered because he
starts to care about these three orphan girls. You see this in one
scene where he takes the girls to a carnival. And I’m not sure that he
expressed it the right way, he definitely starts to show signs that
he’s beginning to care about the.
[VIDEO – SoFluffy, available at MovieMinistry.com]
Okay, maybe not the best reaction, but at least Gru is starting to show
some signs of redemption.
Now let me mix my movies here. We’re talking about Despicable Me, but I
want to switch over to Star Wars for a minute.
about five years ago, when the final movie in the Star Wars series came
out… that’d be movie number 6, episode number 3 (thanks, George)… I was
interviewed by CBC Newsworld. Some of you may remember that. It was
pretty neat. In that interview that was shown across the country, I was
able to talk to more people in just four or five minute than I have in
the rest of my life.
And I was able to explain how the
overarching theme of the Star Wars saga is Redemption. It’s all about
how Anakin Skywalker was consumed by evil, but right at the end of
Episode 6 he finds redemption.
And I think this theme of
Redemption resonates us. Why? Because we've all been corrupted by evil.
Maybe not in the same way that Gru and Darth Vader were, but we all do
things we know we shouldn't do but we do them anyway. We all think
things we shouldn’t think, but we think them anyway. We all say things
we shouldn’t say, but we say them anyway. We all fall short of our own
expectations and our own standards, let alone God’s expectations and
God’s standards. We've all been corrupted by evil. But the great thing
is, no matter who you are or what you’ve done, Redemption is still
available. No one is too far lost to be saved.
But here’s the
thing: when it comes to true redemption, that’s beyond our grasp. We
can’t truly redeem ourselves. We can’t make ourselves right with God.
We’re spiritually dead, and we can’t stumble upon spiritual life. Our
redemption starts and finishes with the work of God. We looked at part
of this verse earlier; now let’s look at the whole thing…
Romans 6:23 (NLT)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal
life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
not through our own efforts. It’s through the efforts of God. It’s a
free gift from Him, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. You
see, the journey from death to life, from sin to Redemption, can be
defined by one word: Forgiveness.
about it like this: At the center of the word “SIN” is the letter “I”.
I do things my way, I do what I want to do, I give into my desires, I
am the center of my life.
But the center letter of “FORGIVE” is
“G”, which stands for God. I’m forgiven when I decide to make Him the
center of my life. I’m going to do things His way, I’m going to life
His way. We move from death to life when we allow Him to be the center
of our lives and receive His forgiveness.
Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)
were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not
yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all
our sins. He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it
away by nailing it to the cross.
Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)
there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And
because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has
freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
you are far from God, then you need to understand that the only way to
move from death to life is through the forgiveness offered by Jesus.
And you can receive it by choosing to live for Him instead of just
living to please your sinful nature.
But even if you are a
Christ-follower… even if you settled that long ago… Sin is still a
reality you have to be aware of. Because even if you are committed to
Jesus and to living for Him, you are not immune to the trappings of
temptation. You can still be lured away from Him by Sin. Paul warns…
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)
you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The
temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.
other words, even if you’re a Christ-follower and that Sin-nature has
been dealt with and you’re living to please God, it’s when you become
prideful and think you’re above it all that you become most vulnerable.
And you can end up right back where you started. You can become
enslaved to Sin again.
That’s why if you read through the Bible,
it constantly talks about being humble and remembering that it’s God
who saves us, not ourselves. We owe our freedom to Him, and not to our
own strength and ingenuity. Pride comes before the fall, so stay
humble. Never buy into the lie that you’re beyond the reach of
temptation and the power of sin. Instead, remember that though the
danger is still there, you can look to God to protect you.
Look at the rest of this passage…
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)
you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The
temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.
And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than
you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that
you can endure.
Maybe you’re here this morning and you
wouldn’t exactly call yourself a Christ-follower. But maybe today you’d
like to change that. You’d like to move from death to life, from sin to
redemption. You’d like to experience the forgiveness of Jesus in your
life. Then you can do that by choosing to live for Him.
you’ve been a Christ-follower for some time, but you’ve found yourself
enslaved to sin again… maybe some recurring sin that you just can’t
seem to break free from. Let me remind you that it’s not up to you.
Yes, you need to resist. But you do that by looking to Jesus and
counting on His work in you to strengthen you and help you stand firm.