Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Evil, Evil, Holiness Retrieval

EVIL?

What is evil? Is there evil? Does evil exist in our postmodern world? Do we need to worry about evil? Do we need to be ready to fight against evil? Is evil a problem? Is evil an allusion? What is the real source of evil? Is evil really evil? How do we relate to evil? When is the last time you called evil evil? How should we respond to evil?

Many of us are deluded into thinking that life as a Christian is all hunky dory. Evil only happens to those who are evil, right? Should we, Christians, be concerned about evil? Is the word "evil" even relevant to those who have been saved by grace through faith? Do evil things happen to "good" people? First, we need to realize and acknowledge that God is completely sovereign. "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isa 45:7) So how do we respond to evil?

Expect

Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Evil should never surprise us and catch us off guard. God is going to test you. He loves you and He will cut and carve your character so as to make look more like Him. The cutting and the carving isn't fun but it is fulfilling to those who are faithful. Evil things are going to happen. Buckle up and be ready. Remember God is sovereign through it all.

Pray

Jesus taught us how to pray when He said, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). The problem with many of us (not evil) is that we deliver ourselves into evil and then pray to be delivered from it. You can't drive yourself into a strip club (evil) and then pray to be delivered from evil. You can't pray "lead me not into temptation" when you really want and long to to be led there.

Hate

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). We are told to love and then to hate. If you don't hate than you don't really love. Love is not tolerance. If I love my own children then I wouldn’t tolerate those things that are destroying my children. As the Psalmist said, "Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? (Ps 139) Is prayer and hatred contradictory? Of course not. When it comes to evil we are told to pray and to hate.

Expose

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We have a tendency to enjoy and be entertained by evil rather than exposing it for what it is. We are children of light in a dark, evil world. We are here to expose and to shine. We are supposed to be a city on a hill. Christians who do not shine are "thrown out and trampled under people's feet" (Mt.5:13) Exposing is never popular to those who love the darkness. We should, though, be seeking after righteousness not popularity. Shine on!

Overcome

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Don't given in or give up when evil entices or attacks. Evil is there for us to conquer. We are "more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Rom 8:37) The narrow road less traveled is difficult and sometimes lonely but it is the only path that leads to life. We must overcome by doing good "so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 5:16) Is there evil around us? Then there is work ahead of us. It's time for us to overcome, have dominion and advance His Kingdom.

John Piper wrote: "Never doubt that God is totally for you in Christ. If you trust him with your life, you are in Christ. Never doubt that all the evil that befalls you—even if it takes your life—is God’s loving, purifying, saving, fatherly discipline. It is not an expression of his punishment in wrath. That fell on Jesus Christ our substitute. “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6)."

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