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Of course the first thing you have to consider about evil is what is its definition, can we even define it? What does evil look like and can we even recognize it. The other more important consideration is in what context are we talking about this thing we call evil. The context of the term is the much more important item to nail down first. If we are coming from a background and world view that the universe came into being as the result of some natural or accidental process then the whole concept of evil ends up being nothing more than a man made term with no intrinsic meaning or value for human beings. In that context the term evil has no meaning whatsoever and more importantly no personal consequence. With an accidental universe, and as a consequence accidental life, there is no good and there is no evil, things just are. In that kind of universe there is nothing that cares for you or about you.
If, on the other hand however, a loving God created the universe and man for a special purpose then this thing we call evil has a very personal meaning to human beings. In this context the meaning of evil will not only have intrinsic properties but those properties will be the polar opposite of the creator. Evil will be the antithesis or absence of God. From this standpoint how would evil affect humans in that kind of universe. There is also the question of what does evil look like and how would we recognize it?
As children growing up we are all inclined to gravitate toward certain pursuits in life and certain interests. In addition, life will constantly present us with all kinds of new experiences. We will experience joy, sadness, success, failure, love, friendship, hate, sickness, and death. All these experiences can be broken down into three main categories, physical experiences, mental-emotional experiences and spiritual experiences. Some of the physical experiences we will encounter will be disease, illness, death, and injury. Some of the mental-emotional ones will be love, disappointment, and hate. Some of the spiritual experiences are experiences or emotions that can reveal or illustrate your connection to a higher reality. These experiences can range from feelings of oneness, peace, and understanding to those of impending destruction, fear and dread. Spiritual experiences can be and are many times triggered by one or more of the physical senses. As an example they can be triggered by vision or music. I have had many strong spiritual feelings and experiences while listening to music.
What or who institutes evil? From a Biblical perspective evil, in the form of temptation, is the main weapon of the god on this world, Satan and his emissaries. It is their primary weapon and tool to test God’s creation and man. An interesting point about evil is that I have listened to and often heard atheists and non-believers of all types ask the question “How could a loving God allow evil to exist in the world?” It’s curious to me because if you are truly an atheist that question is an oxymoron isn’t it? If you are truly an atheist then there is no God and as a consequence no evil. You can’t have one without the other. The question says more about the alleged atheist than it does about God or the presence of evil.
In the physical we can be and are constantly tempted by our senses. Hunger, lust, pleasure, and pride are all manifestations of this as are sickness, death, injury and pain. It’s not that we would consciously choose these sorts of experiences they are just a part of our physical world. They can be tools of evil though if they are used to derail or sidetrack your spiritual growth or to turn you away from God. Examples of these kinds of experiences pushing people over the spiritual edge abound. The book of Job is a perfect example of this. It is also a wonderful dialogue about why there is suffering in this world. In fact Job is a literary masterpiece on the mystery of suffering. Another aspect of the book is we find that Satan is behind all the evils and suffering on the planet Earth. The book of Job chronicles the physical evils used as tools by Satan to try and derail and disrupt Job’s faith in and love for God. An interesting perspective about Satan’s use of these tools is that Satan first used them to destroy the possessions and the people Job loved the most. This is a common tactic to go after the things and people a person loves to get at them to change their faith. In Job’s case, however, it didn’t work.
The same is true of mental-emotional experiences. Confusion, suspicion, treachery, threats, love, hate, coveting and pride can all be used to tempt and sidetrack you spiritually. The most effective of these tools is pride; pride in oneself and the worship of man as a god. Even though many people fall for this it is a lie. The temptation to rely solely on man’s knowledge and wisdom as the ultimate authority is just one of the tools of the master deceiver so don’t be surprised by it, expect it and be prepared for it. To counter act these influences we all need to recognize our tendency to be cajoled and swayed by the wants and desires of this world and act accordingly.
When I was a child I had a very spiritual nature. I was keenly aware of the fact that there was a bigger reality than the one that presented itself to me at home with my family. I was in tune with this truth as many children are. I am positive that because of my awareness and nature that I had a close brush with evil. I will never forget it. I was four years old and living in Harlingen, Texas. In my bedroom my younger brother and I had a bunk bed; I slept on the bottom bunk my younger brother on the top. I remember vividly a vision I had of Satan attacking me as I slept. It was so real I remember it to this day. It was so terrifying to me at the time that as I am writing this I am getting chills just remembering that night. When this vision occurred I was so frightened that I woke up screaming until my mother came in to the bedroom to calm me down. This story of my confrontation with Satan is not an isolated one. I was told another story involving a ninety-year-old woman who had a similar experience. She was attacked in her sleep by demons. She was quite clear about the fact that they were agents of Satan. It was so real and affected her so much she literally thought she was going to die. She was also four years old and still remembered it eighty-six years later. Why do these things happen? The only thing that makes any sense is that there is in fact a spiritual war being raged right now for your soul. These attacks go on daily. When you are attacked it is an effort of the dark forces to sidetrack and prevent you from accomplishing some future task or to keep you from influencing others with your faith.
As it says in the Scriptures:
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
The last tool in this arsenal of evil is spiritual evil. Spiritual evil can come at the hands of church teachers or other church authorities. Yes there are false teachers even in the pulpits of the world. The apostles even warned about it in 2nd Peter.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Spiritual evil can also take physical form. A present example of this kind of evil is the stories of sexual abuse initiated by pastors, elder and bishops. Another form of spiritual evil comes in the form of watering down the Creator and his message. The rise and popularity of new age teachings are a recent example of this sort of evil.
One other aspect of evil is can you recognize it; can you see it? Although that question brings up visions of monsters and horror movies reality doesn’t seem to be that clear cut. I believe you can recognize and even sometimes see evil or evil beings. I only say this because I have personally had this experience. The experience was palpable to me. The evil I felt was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences.
This brings us to the million-dollar question, why does God allow evil to exist at all. In the book of Job we found the answer to that question he doesn’t. Evil is allowed to exist in many instances not to punish but to chasten the believer. I’m not sure the same is true of unbelievers.
Man was given two great gifts by God, the gift of life, and the gift of free will. Our free will allows us to chose to either walk with our Creator or to walk with the god of this world Satan. We are God’s greatest creation and He loves us so much He is not going to force us to choose Him. He wants us to use our free will to make that choice for ourselves.
© Richard Woodling 2013