fbpx

Sermon Quotes

Evil

W.H. Auden

Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.

Augustine of Hippo

The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.

Augustine of Hippo

He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.

Thomas Aquinas

Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good.

Karl Barth

Sin is not confined to the evil things we do. It is the evil within us, the evil which we are.

Edmund Burke

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Albert Camus

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding.

The Plague, 1947.

George Carlin

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

Richard Cecil

Every year of my life I grow more convinced that it is wisest and best to fix our attention on the beautiful and the good, and dwell as little as possible on the evil and the false.

G.K. Chesterton

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.

Edwin Hubbel Chapin

In the history of man it has been very generally the case that when evils have grown insufferable they have touched the point of cure.

Winston Churchill

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.

Richard Dawkins  

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. . . . In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

* For Contrast

River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.

Desiderius Erasmus

Nature, more of a stepmother than a mother in several ways, has sown a seed of evil in the hearts of mortals, especially in the more thoughtful men, which makes them dissatisfied with their own lot and envious of another’s.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

There is evil in every human heart, which may remain latent, perhaps, through the whole of life; but circumstances may rouse it to activity.

Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 2015.

Hesiod

The man who does evil to another does evil to himself, and the evil counsel is most evil for him who counsels it.

Carl Gustav Jung

The reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.

Helen Keller

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.

Optimism, Simon and Schuster, 2012, p.5.

Helen Keller

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.

My Religion (1927) ch. 6

Peter Kreeft

How can a mere finite human being be sure that infinite wisdom would not tolerate certain short-range evils in order for more long-range goods that we can’t foresee.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Martin Luther King Jr.

To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.

Taken from Alex Ayres, The Wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr, (1993), Plume.

Martin Luther King Jr.

When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.

John of Kronstadt

A Christian must always be kind, gracious, and wise in order to conquer evil by good.

C.S. Lewis

When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.

John Henry Newman

Evil has no substance of its own, but is only the defect, excess, perversion, or corruption of that which has substance.

Friedrich Nietzsche

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.

Beyond Good and Evil

Blaise Pascal

Evil is easy, and has infinite forms.

Blaise Pascal

St. Augustine teaches us that there is in each man a Serpent, an Eve, and an Adam. Our senses and natural propensities are the Serpent; the excitable desire is the Eve; and reason is the Adam. Our nature tempts us perpetually; criminal desire is often excited; but sin is not completed till reason consents.

Alvin Plantinga

I must say that most attempts to explain why God permits evil—theodicies, as we may call them—strike me as tepid, shallow and ultimately frivolous.

“Self-Profile,” in Alvin Plantinga, eds. James E. Tomberlin and Peter van Inwagen (Reidel, 1985), p. 35.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Evil is the product of the ability of humans to make abstract that which is concrete.

Alice Sebold

“Murderers are not monsters, they’re men. And that’s the most frightening thing about them.”

The Lovely Bones

William Shakespeare

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

Julius Caesar, 1599 Act 3, Sec.2, l.74-86.

James Bryan Smith

I once heard a preacher say evil is live spelled backward. Anything that goes against what helps us live is therefore evil. And evil is always ugly.

Taken from The Magnificent Story by James Bryan Smith. Copyright (c) 2018 by James Bryan Smith. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

Charles Spurgeon

Of two evils, choose neither.

J.R.R. Tolkien

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”

The Return of the King

Simone Weil

Evil is neither suffering nor sin; it is both at the same time, it is something common to them both. For they are linked together; sin makes us suffer and suffering makes us evil, and this indissoluble complex of suffering and sin is the evil in which we are submerged against our will, and to our horror.

Simone Weil

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.

Mae West

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

Augustine of Hippo

God would never permit evil, if He could not bring good out of evil.

Karl Barth

Men have never been good, they are not good and they never will be good.

Thomas Carlyle

Men’s hearts ought not to be set against one another, but set with one another, and all against evil only.

G.K. Chesterton

The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.

Andrew Delbanco

A gulf has opened up in our culture between the visibility of evil and the intellectual resources available for coping with it.

The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.

George Eliot

There is no sort of wrong deed of which a man can bear the punishment alone; you can’t isolate yourself and say that the evil that is in you shall not spread. Men’s lives are as thoroughly blended with each other as the air they breathe; evil spreads as necessarily as disease

Charles Kingsley

Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us.

C.S. Lewis

You cannot make men good by law.

C.S. Lewis

Evil is a parasite, not an original thing.

Flannery O’Connor

There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration.

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Thomas Merton

There is in man a mint always at work: his mind coining evil thoughts, his heart, evil desires and carnal emotion; and his memory is the closet and storehouse wherein they are kept.

John Newton

Many have puzzled themselves about the origin of evil. I am content to observe that there is evil, and that there is a way to escape from it, and with this I begin and end.

Frederick W. Robertson

Evil is but the shadow, that, in this world, always accompanies good. You may have a world without shadow, but it will be a world without light – a mere dim, twilight world. If you would deepen the intensity of the light, you must be content to bring into deeper blackness and more distinct and definite outline, the shade that accompanies it.

Robert Southey

Never let a man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul. The evil effect on himself is certain.

Blaise Pascal

All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.

William Penn

A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it.

N.T. Wright

Somehow, strangely (and to us sometimes even annoyingly), the Creator God will not simply abolish evil from his world. The question that swirls around these discussions is, Why not? We are not given an answer; we are instead informed in no uncertain terms that God will contain evil, that he will restrain it, that he will prevent it from doing its worst, and that he will even on occasion use the malice of human beings to further his own strange purposes.

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006 by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

The Gospels tell the story of how the evil in the world—political, social, personal, moral, emotional—reached its height, and how God’s long-term plan for Israel (and for himself!) finally came to its climax.

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006 by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

The Old Testament oscillates among three things: evil seen as idolatry and consequent dehumanization; evil as what wicked people do, not least what they do to the righteous; and evil as the work of the “satan” (a Hebrew word meaning “accuser”).

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006 by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

The Old Testament isn’t written in order simply to “tell us about God” in the abstract. It isn’t designed primarily to provide information, to satisfy the inquiring mind. It’s written to tell the story of what God has done, is doing and will do about evil .

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006 by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

The real enemy, after all, was not Rome but the powers of evil that stood behind human arrogance and violence…. [On the cross] the kingdom of God triumphed over the kingdoms of this world by refusing to join in their spiral of violence. [On the cross, Jesus] would love his enemies, turn the other cheek, go the second mile.

Simply Christian, Harper Publishing.

N.T. Wright

The Old Testament isn’t written in order simply to “tell us about God” in the abstract. It isn’t designed primarily to provide information, to satisfy the inquiring mind. It’s written to tell the story of what God has done, is doing and will do about evil .

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006 by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

In particular, there is a noble Christian tradition which takes evil so seriously that it warns against the temptation to “solve” it in any obvious way.

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006, p.44, by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

The Old Testament oscillates among three things: evil seen as idolatry and consequent dehumanization; evil as what wicked people do, not least what they do to the righteous; and evil as the work of the “satan” (a Hebrew word meaning “accuser”).

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006, p.47, by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

Evil is the force of anti-creation, anti-life, the force which opposes and seeks to deface and destroy God’s good world of space, time and matter, and above all God’s image-bearing human creatures. 

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006, p.94, by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

N.T. Wright

What the Gospels offer is not a philosophical explanation of evil, what it is or why it’s there, nor a set of suggestions for how we might adjust our lifestyles so that evil will mysteriously disappear from the world, but the story of an event in which the living God deals.

Taken from Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright Copyright (c) 2006, p.98, by N.T. Wright. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Ronald Nash

Objections to theism come and go. … But every philosopher I know believes that the most serious challenge to theism was, is, and will continue to be the problem of evil.

Faith and Reason (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 177.

Malcolm Muggeridge

The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality, but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.

C.S. Lewis

Free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give [creatures] free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

Mere Christianity

G.H. Pember

No evil ever came from [God’s] hands. . . . Let this truth be fixed in our hearts . . . whenever we are troubled with the thorn or the thistle, with the poisonous or useless weed, with the noxious beast . . . or with any of the other countless inconveniences and pains of our present condition; whenever we feel ready to faint by reason of fighting without and fears within, let us remember that God made all things good, and avoiding hard thoughts of Him, say, An enemy hath done this.

Earth’s Earliest Ages

Christopher J. H. Wright

[The exodus] points beyond itself to a greater need for deliverance from the totality of evil and restoration to relationship with God than it achieved by itself. Such a deliverance was accomplished by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992), p.29.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Evil. 

Follow us on social media: