Why Do People Do Bad Things?

A quick glance at the news will demonstrate that there is no shortage of people who are willing to do bad things.

For example, after watching only a few minutes of yesterday’s evening news I was confronted by multiple stories with headlines like: 2 [teen guys] Accused of Taking $7,000 in Cash at Gunpoint, Man Accused Of Luring Girl Into Home, Raping Her and Prosecutor: Pediatrician Took Photos of Players’ Crotches. It almost seems surprising that so many people would engage themselves in exploits of this sort. What is it that causes people, who are just like you and me, to do these atrocious deeds?

Is it their circumstances that cause them to commit these actions? Perhaps the guys in the first story needed money? Maybe there was some sort of demonic presence influencing the men in the other two stories to indulge in their respective sexual sins? It is reasonable to think that circumstances play a role in causing people to do evil things. But Jesus pinpoints the main cause of such sins – and it is not external.

In Matthew 15:19-20 Jesus says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”

Why do people do bad things? People do bad things because people are bad. Every person has a corrupt heart, and corrupt hearts love to do bad things. The origin of the desire to do evil does not come from some external force (like one’s circumstances). The desire to do bad things – which leads to the consummation of an evil act –  originates in the human heart (James 1:14-15).

Indeed, the God who sees all has said that every intention of the thoughts of the human heart are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Would we not expect those whose hearts are bad to do bad things (Jeremiah 13:23).

photo by catikaoe

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