Why People Do Bad Things
An article specially designed for parents to read with their children
WOULDN’T it be wonderful if everyone were good? Then no one would ever hurt anyone else.
But is there anyone who really is good all the time? What do you think? The Bible tells us that Jehovah God is always good; there is no badness in him at all. And Jesus, the Great Teacher, always does what is right. But none of us can truthfully say that we are good all the time.
We may try to be good. But there are times when we think bad things, aren’t there? And at times we do acts that are bad. The first man, Adam, willfully disobeyed God. What he did was very bad. As a result, we were all born imperfect. We are all children of Adam. That is one reason why people do bad things, even though they don’t want to be bad.
But some people do many bad things. They hate other people and deliberately do things to hurt them. Do you think a person like that could ever change and learn to be good?
The Bible gives examples of bad persons who changed. I am going to tell you about one of them. And, together, let’s see if we can figure out why he was bad.
The man’s name was Saul from the city of Tarsus. He lived when Jesus was on earth. But we don’t know if Saul ever saw the Great Teacher. The Bible first speaks about Saul soon after Jesus had died and was raised to heavenly life by his Father.
Saul was a very religious man. He belonged to a religious group called the Pharisees. They had the writings of God’s Word, but they put the teachings of some of their important men ahead of what was written in that Word of God. Do you think that was wise? It could lead to serious trouble.
One day when Saul was in Jerusalem a disciple of Jesus named Stephen was arrested. They took him to court, and some of the judges on the court were Pharisees. Even though bad things were said about him, Stephen was not afraid. He spoke right up and gave the judges a good witness about God and about Jesus.
But those judges did not like what they heard. This was not the first time that they had heard about Jesus. In fact, it was this court that had said Jesus ought to be put to death. God’s Word showed that these men were bad. Instead of changing their ways, they fought against Jesus and his disciples because these preached God’s Word. Those judges did not like the truth.
They became very excited. They grabbed hold of Stephen and took him outside the city. They knocked him down, and threw stones at him until they had killed him.
Saul was right there watching while Stephen was being put to death. He was approving of the murder of him. But how could he do such a bad thing?
Well, Saul had grown up as a Pharisee. All his life he had been taught that they were right. He looked to these men for his example. So he copied them.
Now that Stephen was dead, Saul wanted to get rid of the rest of Jesus’ disciples. He began going right into their homes and dragging out both men and women. Then he would have them thrown into prison. Many of the disciples moved away from Jerusalem to get away from Saul. But they did not stop preaching about Jesus.—Acts 8:1-4.
This caused Saul’s hatred for Jesus’ disciples to grow. He went to the high priest and got permission to arrest Christians in the city of Damascus. He wanted to bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem to have them punished. But on the way to Damascus an amazing thing happened.
A light flashed from heaven so bright that it made Saul blind. And a voice said: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” It was the Lord Jesus from heaven speaking!
Three days later Jesus appeared in a vision to one of his disciples named Ananias. Jesus told Ananias to visit Saul, to restore his eyesight and to talk to him. Saul had been doing some serious thinking for the past three days. He was ready to listen. Now he accepted the truth about Jesus. His entire way of life changed. He became the apostle Paul, a faithful servant of God.—Acts 9:1-22.
Now do you see why Saul used to be so bad? He had been taught wrong things. He was following men who were not faithful to God. And he belonged to a group of people who put the ideas of men ahead of the Word of God.
But why did Saul change his life and begin to do good, even though other Pharisees did not? It was because Saul did not really hate the truth.
There are many people today who are like Saul. They can change, but it is not easy. This is because there is someone who is working hard to make everyone do bad. Do you know who that is? Jesus talked about him when he spoke to Saul from heaven. He told Saul: ‘I am sending you to open people’s eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.’—Acts 26:17, 18.
Yes, it is Satan the Devil who has caused all the teaching of bad things. He wants people to be bad. The Bible warns us about him, saying: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger.”—Rev. 12:12.
The Devil is here near the earth. We cannot see him, because he is a spirit. But he can see us. He really does exist, and he is doing everything that he can to make people bad.
If we do what is bad, then the Devil is pleased. But we want to please Jehovah, don’t we? How can we be sure to please Jehovah?
We will please God if we always pay attention to the Bible and do what it says. When the Bible shows that we have been doing something bad, we should stop doing it. When we learn from the Bible about things that God wants us to do, we should be eager to do them. When we do what pleases God we are doing good things, because God is good.
“Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”—Jas. 4:7.