The Root of all Evil

Have you ever wondered what the root of all evil is? You'll be surprised that it probably isn't what you think!


John McCormick Root of all evilIntroduction Morning! My name is John McCormick, Leader of Renovation U. Morning to you I am so excited to be with you guys this morning!Many of you have had me as a teacher in Renovation U over the years, but this is my first time speaking up in front of the whole churchAnd just like in class, for the next 90 minutes we are going to learn….I’m just kidding... it’s only 85 minutes  The sin in the GardenI want to start this morning by asking a questionWhat is the root of all evil? Go ahead and shout it outThe famous phrase that you’ve probably heard is this: “the love of money is the root of all evil”This comes from 1 Timothy 6:10, so I’d like to put that on the screen quickly to look at itFor the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefsThere are 2 incredibly important words in the first sentence, and it’s the “a” and “kinds”What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that the love of money is the root of lots of kinds of evilsThe love of money is bad, no question, but it is not the root of all evilSo, what is the root of all evil then? To answer that question, I want to go all the way back in historyRight back to the very first two humans to ever liveWe are going to start in Genesis 3 todayI’d like for you to follow along with me in the Bible today and you can do so in several waysThere is a Bible under every chair and you can open to page 3You can follow along on the Renovation church app Let’s start reading the story in Genesis 3 at verse 11 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.This is not one of the happy stories in the BibleAdam and Eve are living in paradise with God and they even walk and talk with himIt would be so amazing to be that close to God!And they have only 1 rule to live by, don’t eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evilThey have this one command to obey, and they have no reason to disobey In the garden of Eden, they have everything they could ever need!But then this serpent shows up and starts talking to Eve and they choose to disobey GodBut why do Adam and Eve listen to the Serpent and ignore God’s command?They certainly don’t need anything as all their needs are met without any effort in the gardenThey have food, protection, safety, and God’s presence. There is nothing more that they could need!Satan (through the serpent) introduces a very powerful temptation to themSatan proposes to Eve is that they could be “like God, knowing Good and Evil”Instead of Eve thinking that she has everything she needs, now she wonders if she is missing out on somethingSatan is very clever as he is talking to Eve and he twists God’s words and the situation to make it seem like God is depriving them of something goodThey are being deprived of “knowing good and evil”Satan is planting the question: is God not good because he is withholding things from me?And another question: maybe I could do a better job if I was like God?Adam and Eve give in to this temptation that tells them that they could be like GodBy their choice, they declare that they know what is best and that God was wrongHow arrogant is that right?Telling the almighty God who created you and gave you everything that he doesn’t know what he is talking about!This same God that created the sun, moon, and the stars {pause}The same God who designed how atoms work together and how there are subatomic particles and probably even smaller ones beneath that {pause}The same God who created a beautiful garden paradise and gave them everything they would have ever needed {pause}The very same God who walked with them in their presence and they could see his goodness {pause}That is who Adam and Eve ignore when they eat that fruit!Not some distant being in heaven, God who knows them personally and loves them!Their pride and sin had both immediate and long-term consequencesImmediately after they disobey, Adam and Eve know that they are naked and are ashamed They know exactly what they have done and the terrible mistake that they have madeWhen God then comes looking for them they hide in the bushes!As if God who sees everything can’t see them 😊This story ends with God punishing Adam, Eve, and the SerpentBecause they have sinned against God, Adam and Eve are cast out from his presence and the relationship is brokenThey are sent out from paradise and forced to work hard to surviveBut it gets worse!Not only are they cast out, but so are their children and down through every generationGod places an angel with a flaming sword at the entry to paradise that will prevent any human from trying to enter againStill today we carry the effects of that sin and pride that has been passed down!Connecting to todayLooking back at Adam and Eve it’s easy to say “what were you thinking? Why would you listen to a snake telling you to ignore God?”We think, I wouldn’t have listened to that snake!But it’s our hindsight that lets us see the foolishness in their decision and wonder what they were thinkingI’ve learned this lesson in my own life as well where I thought that I knew better and then paid the price for my pride!When I was in high school, my Dad was always telling me to take a woodworking or shop classHe would say that I would learn practical skills that I would use my whole lifeIn my vast wisdom as a teenager, I decided he was wrong and that I would make enough money someday to pay someone to take care of that kind of stuff for meI didn’t think those skills were something I neededAnd honestly, I thought I could just pick skills up when I needed themI’m a smart guy, right? ….Right? 😊Instead, I took classes like photo/video editing 101 and study hall which were some of the most educational classes I took {pause}NO! Those classes were a huge waste of timeBut at the time it seemed like everything was fineI finished high school and college and got married without needing any of those skillsThen a few years later, we bought a home….Much to my dismay, I had no idea how to fix things when our house, yard, fence, appliances, cars, and everything else that we owned started to breakAnd I was forced to learn these skills on my ownUsually by first breaking things even more first 😊And some things I have never been able to fix!Let me share with you some of the things I’ve learned:You have to turn off the light switch before changing out a light bulb or else you will likely burn your fingersYou should measure where you want to hang a picture on the wall before hammering a nail in 5 or 6 different times to find the right placeWhen cutting a piece of wood, straight lines are important (and the blade is very, very sharp)I know that you’re very impressed 😊What I quickly learned was that my prideful decision to ignore my father’s advice had consequencesNow I look back and say, “what were you thinking?” but in the moment my pride was in the driver’s seatWe also judge the pride of the with the Israelites in the Bible as wellThe Israelites lived as slaves in Egypt for generations and God delivers them through his servant MosesThey are finally free from oppression and slavery and saw God do amazing miracles!And within a few weeks, they are saying that they should have stayed in Egypt…. WHAT?At the border to a land that God had promised to them generations ago which was a beautiful, bountiful place they send out spies to check out the landOf the 12 that go, 10 of them say that the people are too mighty and that they should not go inEven though God promised to go with them And btw had just delivered them from Egypt which was the mightiest kingdom on earth at the timeDespite God promising his deliverance to them and told them they would succeedThe people decide that they won’t go in to the promised land…. WHAT?We look back at the Israelites and say, “what is wrong with you?”Why on earth would you do those kinds of things?Why didn’t you just listen to God? He clearly was going to take care of you!But you and I make those same kinds of mistakes constantly!Every time that we ignore one of God’s commands we have done the same thing {pause}Whenever we go our own way and ignore God’s calling, we’ve done the same thing {pause}Any time we’ve done any kind of sin at all, we’ve done the exact. same. thing. {pause}The same pride that tempts Adam and Eve or the Israelites to disobey, is the same one in us that tells us that WE would never make the same mistake!Think about that for a secondThe only reason that we think that we would do better is because we’ve have hindsight on those eventsIn our pride we assume that we wouldn’t make that mistake, that we would know better in the momentBut why? Because we can see the whole story and the consequencesIt’s only through seeing the ramifications that we know what they should have doneI assure you that while hindsight gives 20/20 vision, our pride makes us blindAnd what we see is that regardless of who sinned, what they did, or when they did it the root of all evil and every sin is the same temptation that Adam and Eve faced in the beginningIt’s the belief that we know better than God, that his rules shouldn’t apply to usWe want to place ourselves in the position of authority and make the decisionsWe don’t want to be accountable to someone elseWe don’t want someone telling us that what we are doing is wrongThis is why the post-modern thought that morality is relative is so appealing to usIf what is “right” is ultimately decided by each person, then nothing is right or wrongAnd more than anything, we don’t want anyone to tell us that we are wrongNo one else should be in charge of us, we decide what is bestAnd we want every decision to have no consequencesAt its core, this temptation comes from the idea that God is depriving me of something good by telling me not to do thingsWe think of any rule that we must obey as being wrongQuick side note, Christianity is not focused on rules and legalismWatch David’s message called “Legalism” from a few weeks ago for great clarification on that topicWe think: if God really loved us there would be no rules, right?As children (and especially teenagers) we think, why do my parents keep putting these rules on me?They don’t care about what I want!But what would any of us look like if our parents hadn’t set out rules?Parents, you know what I’m talking aboutImagine your children running loose with no rules and no consequences Scary, right? 😊We put rules in place to protect our kids and to help them!In the same way, God puts the rules in place to protect us and guide usWhen we break them, it does nothing but harm usBut the deception that we fall for is that everything we want must be a good thing for us, and that being denied anything is wrongWhen God creates everything in the 2 chapters just before this, He declares that everything is “very good”So surely, we should be allowed to have or do whatever we want because it is good, right?But the important note is that everything is good at the right time and when used correctlyWhen we misuse something, it is no longer goodAnd often when we misuse it, it is harmful to usLet’s look at a few rules that God puts into place to protect us and how our pride lies to usGod tells us: Don’t stealOur pride says: we should have that thing because we deserve it, or we want it and it doesn’t matter if we don’t payDo you see the pride there? We are being denied something good that we want, so we will justify it in our heads and then take itWhat’s the consequence? You might have a fine to pay or go to jailGod tells us: Don’t lieOur pride says: I don’t want people to know I did something (or didn’t do something) so I’ll just making something up that keeps me safe, no one will get hurtWhen we are lying, we are trying to protect the most important person in the world to ourselves (us) We decide that the truth is harmful or uncomfortable to us, so we will just make up something else.Our pride tells us to distort reality so that we aren’t impacted by the truth.What’s the consequence? Eventually that lie will come out and we won’t be trusted or will be punished for itGod says: Don’t commit adulteryOur pride says: sex is too good to wait for marriage or it’s not good enough in our marriageWe tell ourselves that it’s too good to not do it, therefore we should be allowed to. The other way we justify this sin is that the rules are “outdated”The culture tells us that all kinds of sexual sins are okay because we know better nowDo you see the pride in that? That we can progress and be wiser than God and know better than he does!And what’s the consequence? We have an insanely high divorce rate, we have tons of pregnancies outside of marriage, and so many people that can’t enjoy sex because they’ve ruined it by misusing it over and overGod says: Don’t be greedyOur pride says:  if I just had a little more then I’d be happy, then I’d have what I needOur wanting more and more is a sign of discontentment with what God has given us and that we think he isn’t giving us enoughAlternatively, it might be that we think that we deserve more or that we can make ourselves happy or comfortable with moreBut at the end of the day we are telling God that he can’t provide for us and we will have to do it ourselvesWhat’s the consequence? We work ourselves to death, we use other to get more for ourselves, we hoard things to the point of not being able to store it all, and we never find contentment or joy in life because we never have enoughThese are just a few examples, but can you already see the pattern?No matter the sin, we are always acting out of our pride to protect ourselves, get ourselves something we want, or to impose our will on somethingWe tell ourselves that we deserve thisBut do we really?What is so good about us that we deserve whatever we want?Or we say that God is trying to deny us something that is “good”But is he really?It’s all about using or doing it in the right context that makes it “good”Passing a test that you worked hard for is good because you accomplished somethingPassing it because you cheated and didn’t study, isn’t good because you didn’t do anything to succeedWe would all say that the person doesn’t deserve to pass!Or we say that if we don’t do it, bad things will happen to us (and we aren’t a fan of that)As humans, we will do anything to avoid bad things happening to usOften, we will avoid ourselves being hurt at the cost of someone else, because in our eyes, we are more valuable than them (even if we would never say that out loud)It doesn’t matter how we justify it to ourselves, it doesn’t remove the consequencesSo what hope do we have?You heard me mention just a few consequences for each sin out of a huge list of potential onesThose consequences are real and painful in our livesBut that’s nothing compared to the final consequence!Every sin that we commit has a punishment of separation from God. Every single one!Look at Adam and Eve!Their pride caused them to be separated from God and punishedThe Bible says that we have all sinned and that no one is goodIf that is true, then we all deserve to be separated from God and from paradise!We don’t deserve good things, we deserve the same punishment that they received!This punishment is what we receive because of our prideBecause we tell God that we know better and go our own way, God separates us from himselfAnd when we die, we will be separated from him FOREVERThink about how hard and miserable this life can beNow imagine that part stretched out forever with no hope and no respiteThat’s what our pride is constantly steering us towards!What hope is there for us then? What are we supposed to do about it?The answer comes a few verses later in Genesis 3, as God is giving the punishments to Adam, Eve, and the serpent, he also gives hope!Genesis 3: 14-1514 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”Did you see it?God promises that an offspring will come from Eve that will crush the head of the serpentThat punishment is for Satan and it’s a message of hope and foreshadowing in the midst of everything falling apart!An offspring will come that will undo all of the damage that Adam and Eve have brought upon themselves and the world!So what hope is there for people like Adam and Eve, for people like you and me?The answer is the best hope!When we read the rest of the Bible we see over and over that humans can’t do enough good to be right with GodHe provides a system for the Jewish people of sacrifices that can help them atone for their sinsBut they can’t do it and they fall into sin over and over againWe are just like them, we can’t do enough good things to be right with GodWe can’t overcome our pride and our sin on our ownIn fact, the harder we try to overcome sin on our own, usually the further we fall into itWe “overcome” our sins, but really in the end we are just turning from one sin to anotherC.S. Lewis puts it this way in his book Mere Christianity:“[Satan] is perfectly content to let you become chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all of the time, he is setting you up in his Dictatorship of Pride”We can’t escape sin on our own, because we can’t stop trying to know better than GodWe can’t stop re-writing the rules so that we don’t seem so bad in our own eyesThe amazing news is that you and I are a proud, rebellious people but that God loved us anywaysHe loved us so much that he sent that promised offspring which was his own Son to release the grip that sin and pride have over usWe are so trapped in our pride and sin, that we can’t get out on our ownThere is nothing that we can do that will cure us or make us righteous in God’s eyesSo, 2000 years ago, God sent his son Jesus on a rescue mission for usHe came and lived on this earth with usAnd Jesus spent his life succeeding where Adam and Eve failed, where you and I failHe never sinned even though he was tempted in every way like we areNot once on this crazy rescue mission did Jesus sin even one timeThere are no traces of pride in his behavior or in his decisions, just complete obedienceAnd at the climax of it all, he suffered the worst punishment that we could throw at himHe suffered the full punishment for the sin that everyone has ever committed or will ever commitAnd in the most agonizing way humanity has ever devised to kill someone, he died on a cross for us taking our sin with himAnd showing his mercy, love, and power, God raised him from the deadBecause if he stayed dead, then he would be no different than Adam and EveInstead, Jesus died in our place and lives today so that we have hopeWe have hope to escape the pride that twists our desires and destroys our livesHope to escape our sin and punishment that we deserveHope to be able to be in God’s presence again and to never lack anythingHope to spend eternity with Jesus in heaven free from pain, sadness and suffering foreverSo, what do you have to do to overcome pride in your life?... SurrenderHow do you escape the punishment that we all deserve?You stop trying to be in chargeWe all have a choice in our lives, we can’t serve 2 masters, it’s either our pride or GodWill we choose to be like Adam and Eve and make our own rules?Or will we choose to surrender to the one who has a much better plan for our lives?Every day we have to choose to let go of our pride and admit that we can’t be GodWe need to trust in the one who does know best and who has a plan for usDon’t try to figure it all out on your own, don’t try to have all the answersAnd most importantly, don’t give in to the temptation that you can do better than God If we seek God and what he wants us to do every day instead of what we want, that’s when we will find joy and purposeOur pride and our sin are liarsThey promise that we will be great, that we will be “like God”But in the end, they only make us broken, miserable, and aloneSo, let’s humble ourselves today and every dayTrust in Jesus who promises to never leave us and never forsake usAsk Jesus to forgive you for your sin and pride, and choose to follow his way insteadIf he is calling you today to surrender to him, listen!Whether that’s trusting in Jesus for the first timeOr if that’s stepping out in faith to tell someone else about himOr serving at Church Whatever it isLISTEN!He loves us and will never lead us astrayLet me pray

Copyright: John Mccormick
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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