Proverbs 24:8

He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

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Can you spot a dangerous man? Devising evil is active planning of sin in the heart and mind. It is worse than sinning by temptation and weakness – it is diabolical commitment and intention of sinning. Once detected, such a person should be carefully avoided, for he is a mischievous person – dangerous and harmful. God hates such men (Pr 6:16-19).

Can such a simple observation teach wisdom? It can, if you will consider it carefully. King Solomon taught his son to be prudent. In order to be successful in ruling the nation, he needed to be able to identify dangerous men and avoid them (Pr 23:6; 25:5). Here is the description of a profane type of man whose malicious mind is bent on doing evil.

It is one thing to sin, but a different thing to plan sin. Drunkenness caused Noah and Lot to sin, but they did not plan to sin. David committed adultery after seeing Bathsheba naked, but he had not devised to take Uriah’s wife that night. These men were of better character than Ahab and Jezebel (I Kgs 21:25). Following a multitude to do evil is sin, but planning to lead others into evil is much worse (Pr 28:10; Ex 23:2; Jas 3:1).

But there are wicked persons who constantly think in subversive ways to commit sin. They do not have righteous hearts – they are given over to lasciviousness with greediness (Eph 4:17-19). The Bible condemns them as inventors of evil things (Rom 1:30). They are not happy without planning a new crime against others (Pr 4:16; Ps 36:4; Micah 2:1).

It matters little, if they have not done much evil: it is their corrupt and wicked hearts that create the danger. The proverb does not warn directly against those that do evil, but rather those that devise to do it. If they often do not do the evil they devise, how can they be known? By the talk of their lips, which reveals their hearts (Pr 6:12-15; 24:2; Matt 12:34-37; 15:10-20). Listen for men who generally speak subversively and lightly about sin.

Such men make a mock of sin (Pr 14:9). They excuse their evil plans (Pr 26:18-19). They make light of sins of the heart (Pr 24:9). They surmise evil about others (I Tim 6:3-5). They often see convoluted and malicious evil in the actions of others (Pr 21:10). They admire and envy wicked men (Pr 12:12). They come up with profane and perverse ideas (Pr 16:29-30). They are mischievous men, and they are dangerous. Get away from them (Pr 23:6-8; Ps 144:11-15)!

What do you devise? Wickedness, or righteousness? Great men meditate upon God’s law day and night (Ps 1:2; 119:197). Their thoughts toward others are good and honorable. When you identify a wicked mind that thinks evil toward others, you should get far away, because that evil heart is likely also conspiring harmful thoughts toward you. Find instead those precious souls that speak often one to another about the things of God (Mal 3:16).