Posts Tagged ‘Good and Evil’

In the daily struggles of our lives, a powerful force is at work tirelessly pressing us into castes and molds. We have choices as we are swept along, but the right choices aren’t always easy to make. Such resistance as we encounter in life tends to push us toward extremes. We are warped and twisted, assigned to this classification or that. If we escape the mold here, then we are pressed into the next. The force is determined to rank us into divisions to be played against one other. It isn’t God who is doing this, but that which the Bible (2nd Corinthians 4:4) calls “the god of this world.”

Only the true God can free us. Even then, our problems are not over. God seeks to preserve our individuality as well as to organize us as an effective body, but our divisions quench his Spirit (John 17:20-21 & 1st Thessalonians 5:19). The world force is yet attempting to make our choices for us. Within our denominations and divisions, we are trained to take a narrow view of God, as if our little group were the lone keeper of the faith. We attempt to contain the God of the universe in these little molds (2nd Chronicles 6:18).

In their own way, theists can be every bit as dogmatic about their beliefs as atheists and evolutionists. One of the effects of Adam’s tree of knowledge (the mind games tree, Genesis 2:17) is that human beings tend to feel as if they are always “right,” or at least within the correct framework. In order to actually solve our problems, we would first have to agree that none of us understands everything, and that we need each other. All human beings “know” something, but we know nothing to the degree that we should (1st Corinthians 8:2).

While Jesus is most certainly the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), he is also the door opening to ever greater truth (John 14:26, & 16:12-14). We don’t “get” it all at one time; we don’t even “get” it in a lifetime. Even the Apostle Paul didn’t claim to have “arrived” (Philippians 3:12-14). In Earth’s great contest of wills however, man quickly tires of trying to reason with others, and soon resorts to other methods. This usually means force or coercion in one form or another.

Men who think the will of God is accomplished through these power struggles may invoke his name, but “God” has become just another tool used to attain private goals. If men can make a thing happen, they will likely think that it is the will of God. Following that line of reason, the notion arises that everything that happens must be the will of God. In recent years I’ve heard an increasing number of sermons attributing this world’s evils to God as if all the minions of Satan were simply performing assignments predestined by God. It’s enough to make you wonder which side some of us are on. I have even heard a Christian leader give thanks to God for the terrorism of ISIS. Christians should mourn instead of rejoicing over the sorrows befalling our world.

The “god of this world” who misshapes education and morality, also distorts religion. The abuse of religious power during the Middle Ages set the stage for today’s religious confusion. It supplies endless fuel for the pro-pagan-da of all of Earth’s different “isms” and schisms, and paves the way for the Antichrist.

We should look at none of the people of these groups as our enemy (Ephesians 6:12). It must not become “us against them.” The enemy is “the god of this world,” the dark force which divides humans beings, separating them from God in order to destroy them. Our enemy is confusion, misunderstanding and falsehood.

The religious reformers of the Middle Ages were justified in resisting the excesses of established religion, but not in their adoption and use of the same tactics which had been used to persecute them. They might have reformed others, but most of them were not reformed themselves. These groups who burned each other at the stake for “heresy” can’t blame everything on the “civil authorities.” That will not excuse them before God. Galatians 5:15 was written primarily to Christians; “If you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

Satan changes tactics to fit the situation, and as long as people are fighting each other, he doesn’t seem to care much who is winning. When extreme persecution of the early Christians by the Roman government failed to destroy Christianity, the “god of this world” simply moved into the church to destroy it from within. Beware of any group that resorts to violence, whether it wears the sheep’s clothing of religion, or any of the many“cool” disguises of the day. Mercy is to be desired (James 2:13) instead of judgement, and none of us are qualified to cast stones.

Don’t get me wrong; the god of this world is not the equal of God, but Satan is able to take advantage of our human weakness and ignorance to cause a great deal of confusion over the Bible as well as everything else. As his attack upon Job illustrates (Job 1:9-11), Satan is using this world’s evils to embitter human hearts against God. I’m afraid that many Christians today are reinforcing that same message.

I don’t know who to credit for the following saying. My Dad always named a poor, old, lady whenever he quoted it, but I forget her name. She said, “When it’s every man for himself, it’s the devil for them all.”

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A picture of a starving child is a picture of the greed, ignorance, and apathy of man. It has always been the policy of man to starve enemies into subjection, and to ignore the undesired. That is not what God wants (Matthew 5:43-45). It is not the will of God that has led to the suffering we see in the world today, but the policies of man. We are self-willed, and we sin.

Long ago, in the garden of Eden, the first human beings chose to know good and evil, and to make their own decisions about all things as if they were gods. Because of that decision, evil is loosed to walk the earth, and human beings create many “impossible” situations, where there are no pleasant answers. We live in the shadow and consequences of prior human choices, and others will walk in ours. It is a long walk in the darkness.

Jesus said that whatever is done to others is done to him (Matthew 25:42-45), so a picture of a starving child is also a picture of God. God starves with the starving. It was God who created the empathetic and sympathetic qualities that human beings sometimes exhibit. Those are characteristics of God. In fact, the only way to hurt God is to harm his creation. The enemy of all humanity knows that when he targets a person, he nails the Messiah. God has been the primary target all along.

As any caring person knows, love draws us into the pain of others (1st Corinthians 12:12,26, and 13:4-7). Love makes God vulnerable along with us. The cross of Jesus is the physical manifestation of that phenomena. The crucifixion of Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s entanglement in our world’s problems. Where is God when we are hurting? He is there on the cross.

The name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23) means “God with us.” “El,” in the ending of the name, is a Hebrew name for God. The Greek spelling is Emmanuel. In Greek, “eme” means “me.” The Greek word “manna” comes from the Hebrew “man,” the word for the bread (Exodus 16:14-18) that fell from the heavens during the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. Jesus compared himself to this manna (John 6:32,33) which came down from heaven. He is the broken bread (1st Corinthians 11:23-24), the antidote for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. “Manuwn” is a little used Hebrew word meaning “heir,” or “son.” I think all these words and meanings are implied in the prophetic name Immanuel.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God. In John 14:8, Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” but nothing is ever quite enough for man. The world is not enough. The next verse gives the answer of Jesus, “Am I with you so long, Phillip, and you haven’t known me?” “The one seeing me has seen the Father.”

The Bible tells us that Jesus wept (John 11:35), and that God was in Jesus reconciling the world unto himself (2nd Corinthians 5:19). The tears of Jesus were the very tears of God. Jesus displayed emotions, and his emotions are those of God. Evil denies all of this, and either claims that God does not exist, or it presents him as being distant and unaffected. Evil uses every possible angle against God, but it all comes into focus at the cross.

“I like pain,” a man once said to me, “It keeps me on my toes.” “I like pain,” said another. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t know I was alive.” The statements were an attempt at humor, but they are sad words nevertheless. Another man said to me, “I don’t think that other people feel things like I do, and it makes me want to hurt them.” I tried to convince him that his thoughts were not true either of man or God. How many people want to hurt God because they think that God does not feel? God sees, God hears (Psalms 94:9), and God feels (Luke 13:34).

I’m sure that God does not like pain, and I don’t like it. A man once tried to convince me that Jesus didn’t really suffer when he was crucified. That man’s professed view was that Jesus was so spiritually exalted that he was beyond physical suffering, but love doesn’t make one immune to suffering. It magnifies it instead, yet love gives us purpose.

Jesus faced the cross in spite of the suffering, because that was the way to get us to face the truth, and it is the way to change our hearts. Why doesn’t God simply force all of us to do the right thing? Well, where do we want him to start, and where do we want him to stop? Can we get a consensus on our guidelines for God’s conduct, and would that agreement be the right one? Love must be voluntary.

We hurt ourselves when we harm others, and we hurt others when we harm ourselves. We hurt God when we harm ourselves and others, and we harm ourselves and others when we hurt God. That is life on Earth in a nutshell. Is that what we want, or is evil using, and confusing us?

Jesus said, “If I am lifted up (crucified), I will draw all mankind unto myself.” This he said signifying what death that he would die (John 12:32-33). The Messiah’s death on the cross might seem to us like the all-time low of his eternal existence, and it was, but at the very same time, it is the all-time high mark of sacrificial love. Jesus, on the cross becoming one with every one of us, (2nd Corinthians 5:21, becoming sin for us) taking all our wrong into his own body, and destroying it in his death while saving the souls of all who will believe in him, is the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

We cannot see God in his true light (glory) if we do not see the depth of Christ’s suffering. There is a tendency in the churches to gloss this over, and only glory in the resurrection, but if we don’t acknowledge the communion of the suffering of God for man (1st Corinthians 11:26), we are missing the reason for his long journey down to Earth. If we do not see the suffering of the Messiah, we won’t be as able to deal with our own suffering, and we can’t see very far into the heavens of God’s love. This earth is a world of suffering, but it is not our final destination.

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Evil exists. It relentlessly forces itself upon our awareness. Depending upon the situation, it may claim to speak for God, or to be God. It may deny the goodness of God, or even the existence of “good” itself. It uses the hurtful things of this world to try to turn us against God. The mind games it plays with man began at the Tree of Knowledge in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5), and 2nd Corinthians 11:14 says that evil presents itself as a messenger of enlightenment, “an angel of light.”

Evil will promote any answer except the fully correct one. It pushes human beings to do hurtful things, and then uses our guilt in destructive ways. With a few well-chosen words, evil may cast doubt upon any truth, and make long experiments and explanations necessary if the truth is to be found.

Evil tempts us to adopt its tactics in order to defend ourselves against it, and thus, it conquers us by making us more like itself. Sometimes we run the wrong direction seeking an escape. We play around its shadows, and evil uses us as pawns and puppets. Evil made sacrifice necessary, and when God became one of us (Isaiah 9:6), it nailed him to a cross and has ever since tried to bury the evidence.

Evil may seem as inconsistent as all insanity, but there is a method to the madness. Its aim is to utterly confuse man, to divide, conquer and destroy him. Evil mocks the warning sounded against it and causes every caution to seem foolish. Evil misuses every good thing that God has created (ref. “Deviation From Design” in my June 2012 archives) and tries to pin the blame upon the sovereignty of God.

Evil misinterprets the Bible. The Bible says that God was “not in” the wind, the earthquake, and the fire on the mountain where Elijah hid in a cave (1st Kings 19:11-13), yet evil presents all natural disasters as “acts of God” (ref. “A Random World” in my Sept. 2010 archives). Like Elijah, we run from those things, but God calls to us in a “still, small, voice.” Evil pushes us to run away from the only one who can help us. Evil will cast doubt upon anything that God would say to us, either in the Bible, in our conscious, or in any other manner.

Evolutionary scientists think that evil is primarily the result of chemical interactions and circumstances, but they can’t deny that it exists. A few evolutionists may inconsistently allow for certain degrees of human choice, while some theologians, misunderstanding our sovereign God’s gift of freewill to man, may argue that all things are predestined. Evil strives to make us feel as if we have no choice, either because of its own great power, that of God, fate, or destiny.

It may then reverse itself and argue that our wrong choices will have no consequences. If that argument fails, it will swear that our every move will lead us into disaster. It is always ready to back every deception with some misapplication of evidence, and to make the right choice difficult. Evil constantly attempts to manipulate us by fear.

If not for God, it would have had its way long ago, and would completely dominate the universe. It makes use of terrorism, evolutionary thought, false religion, and popular sentiment against the Christian God (along with ignorance in the church), to pave the way for the Antichrist. It is maneuvering Earth’s citizens to accept the absolute control of a government leader who will set himself up as God. No social structure could be formed which evil could not use for our harm.

If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that our beautiful world could be so evil, even if God had warned me a thousand times. This kind of unbelief is the reason that the world is as it is. God must eventually separate and contain evil, but in the meanwhile, we will see enough of it to become sick of it, and I am tired of writing about it.

In all of its rampage upon the earth, evil has not been able to overcome good, and that is evidence of the protective power and grace of God. The Saviour exists. “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1st John 4:4). “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).” God is with us in spite of evil. We can therefore give thanks to God.

I wanted to finish this post before Thanksgiving, but I have been too busy experiencing the effects of evil. We celebrated Thanksgiving anyway. In spite of evil, there is always something to thank God for. When evil seems to overwhelm us, we can be thankful that Evil can never overcome God and that it is not his equal (Mark 4:37-39). We can be thankful that Christmas is coming, and that someday, Christ will return.

Besides celebrating a historical event, Christmas is a prophetic promise of a time to come. In spite of all the rage of evil, when all is said and done, Jesus will bring the “Peace on Earth” that he has desired from the beginning of the world. Like the softest snowfall, we will hear the still, small, voice of God.

The greeting on the television commercial, “Merry Whatever Doesn’t Offend You,” is humorous, but I really mean no offence to anyone when I say, “Merry Christmas to all.”

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