The Lord’s Prayer
What is evil?
Genesis 8:21. And Jehovah smelled a restful smell; and Jehovah said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more on account of man; for what the heart of man forms is evil from his youth; and I will not again smite any more all that is living, as I have done.
II Kings 17:13. And Jehovah testified in Israel, and in Judah, by the hand of all His prophets, every visionary, saying, Turn back from your evil ways and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent upon you by the hand of my servants the prophets.
CL 444.4. He who looks to God and wills to be led by God is in good; but he who turns away from God and wills to be led by himself is not in good. For the good which he does is done either for the sake of himself or for the sake of the world, and so is meritorious. or simulated, or hypocritical. It is clear, therefore, that man himself is the origin of evil—not that this origin was planted in man from creation but, by turning away from God, he planted it in himself.
DLW 264. The origin of evil is from the abuse of the capacities proper to man, that are called rationality and freedom. By rationality is meant the capacity to understand what is true and thereby what is false, also to understand what is good and thereby what is evil; and by freedom is meant the capacity to think, will and do these things freely.
DLW 265. That the origin of evil is from the abuse of these capacities will be explained in the following order: (1) A bad man equally with a good man enjoys these two capacities. (2) A bad man abuses these capacities to confirm evils and falsities, but a good man uses them to confirm goods and truths. (3) Evils and falsities confirmed in man are permanent, and come to be of his love, consequently of his life. (4) Such things as have come to be of the love and life are engendered in offspring. (5) All evils, both engendered and acquired, have their seat in the natural mind.
AC 6203. In regard to the origin of the influx of evil from hell, the case is this. When a man first from consent, then from purpose, and at last from the delight of affection, casts himself into evil, then a hell is opened which is in such evil (for the hells are distinct from one another according to evils and all their varieties), and there afterward takes place an influx from that hell.
When a man comes into evil in this way, it clings to him, for the hell in the sphere of which he then is, is in its very delight when in its evil. And therefore it does not desist, but obstinately presses in, and causes the man to think about that evil, at first occasionally, and afterward as often as anything presents itself which is related to it, and at last it becomes with him that which reigns universally. And when this takes place, he then seeks for such things as confirm that it is not an evil, and this until he wholly persuades himself; and then, insofar as he can, he studies to remove external bonds, and makes evils allowable and clever, and at last even becoming and honorable—such as adulteries, thefts effected by art and deceit, various kinds of arrogance and boasting, contempt for others, vituperations, persecutions under an appearance of justice, and the like. The case with these evils is like that with downright thefts, which when committed of set purpose two or three times, cannot be desisted from; for they continually cling to the man’s thought.
Questions and Comments
- How is the heart of man evil from his youth, as it says in Genesis 8:21?
- According to CL 444.4, what is the origin of evil?
- How do the passages from Divine Love and Wisdom (DLW) explain in more detail the origin of evil in us individually?
- AC 6203 describes how the influx of evil works to take control in us. When we ask the Lord to deliver us from evil in the Lord’s Prayer, is it possible to identify in our minds one particular evil at one of the stages mentioned in the passage? If we can do this, how will it help?