Some days when we read God’s Word, He gives us a principle, then provides an example – all this in two very different texts, yet orchestrated for our benefit. King David often wrote of evil men, their folly, and their ultimate destination far from God. Through the wisdom God blessed David with, he gave us some visual descriptions that were quite appropriate. Consider Psalm 7:14 in which David describes men who were enemies of God and of himself:
Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
Look at the progression of what occurs in the heart of sinful, immoral people that mimics the reproductive process, which itself is good. Evil deeds must first be conceived. Conception is necessary to produce a child or an act that is contrary to God’s nature. This leads to a swelling and a fullness in the anticipation of the lawless deed; just as a woman swells with the child growing within her. Finally, the lie or the unrighteous act itself comes forth. It takes time to gestate, but it results in something that has been formed in the dark. Childbirth brings out that child from the depths of the womb into the light. The difference for something illicit is that light is an antiseptic, and that which is ungodly cannot live in its brilliance.
The religious Jews during the days of Jesus and those following, as we observe the Acts of the Apostles, were steeped in evil. Their legalistic framework had produced in them a worldview that could not countenance God becoming man and fulfilling the Biblical prophecies. When Jesus came, they saw Him as demonic rather than who He was: the Son of God. This produced that evil progression in their hearts that David wrote about.
These men observed Jesus and were jealous (Acts 17:5). Strong’s Concordance #2206 shows us that jealous is the Greek word zéloó. It has the sense of boiling water. These men were so full of zeal in their religiosity, i.e. so committed to their way of thinking, that they bubbled over in their desire to prove their thinking was correct, thus were burned by it. It caused them to conceive evil.
This led to them swelling with the mischief devised in their hearts. They made an alliance with a bunch of rabble rousers to form a mob and to become pregnant with the mischief that such men always bring. And how did they describe the Good News of Jesus Christ that Paul and Silas brought to Thessalonica? They twisted it to their own ends. In one respect, what they said in Acts 17:6 was correct, but how they framed it for their bad intentions was evil:
… “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”
How true it was that Jesus and the Word of God the apostles proclaimed turned the world upside down! However, for these Jews in Thessalonica and elsewhere, it disrupted their comfortable way of thinking and was beyond what they could handle. They had put themselves into a box, closed the lid, and would not allow any light to enter. They remained in darkness. From that all they could do was propagate evil.
And so they did. Paul and Silas had to leave Thessalonica after only three weeks. But these Jews weren’t finished. When they learned that the apostles were in nearby Berea, their wicked hearts prompted them to follow and continue agitating against that which God had declared as good.
This is the way of evil and those who choose to follow that path. Unless there is a heart transformation, they will pursue wickedness to the end of their days, and it will only grow worse as time passes.
This is how sin operates. Are any of us any better? Without Jesus where would we be? Likely in the same place as these men described in the narrative in Acts.
Let us thank God for His mercy. He has delivered us from this body of sin and made those of us who believe into new creations in Christ Jesus!