Posts Tagged ‘evil’

In the wake of the recent tragedies we have witnessed lately (school shootings, extreme bullying, kidnappings, etc.), I have heard many comments made along the lines of “How could someone do such a thing?”, “I’m amazed at the evil some people commit.”, “I don’t understand what makes a person do that”, etc.

I have also heard words thrown around like “psychopath”, “crazy”, and “mental illness.”

While this may explain some of why this specific person committed this specific act of evil at this specific time and place, it fails to explain the deeper reasons as to why a person, any person, would do something so horrible.

We wrap ourselves in this perception of people being better than they really are. Here in America we live in such comfort, in a country where basic morality and decency (while greatly eroded) is still a majority held view. We don’t live under a military dictator. Canada’s not launching missiles into our cities. Mexico’s not sending suicide bombers across the border. It is easy for us to white wash the reality of human nature.

I recently saw a post on Facebook with a quote by Nelson Mandela, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

It’s a great thought, and I’m sure it does wonders for encouraging people. It is very motivational, but it’s simply not true. While we may have to be taught to hate a specific trait (color, background, religion) “love” does not “come more naturally to the human heart.”

Yet this is what we tell ourselves over and over again in our movies, our stories, our relationships, even our churches. And then we white-wash over reality with a superficially “moral” society and do the spiritual equivalent of sticking our fingers in our ears and humming real loud.

But what does the bible tell us about human nature, about the human heart? What does God explain comes more naturally to us?

Romans 3:23
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

In Genesis 6:5, Noah is told that God is going to flood the world in judgment because in the time since creation the entire human race had become wicked: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

Jeremiah 17:9
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

The very basis of Christianity, and the entire teaching of the bible (and therefore reality since it is true) is that we are essentially flawed and corrupt!

Romans 1:30 described people who actually “invent ways of doing evil.” Good old fashioned lying and thieving wasn’t doing it for them. They had to come up with new ways to inflict wickedness upon themselves.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden isn’t just a nice story. It is the very reason and explanation of why everything in this world is so messed up, why we have evil. Romans 5:12sin entered the world through one man.” Adam!

And since we’re all descended from Adam, we all bear the corruption that his sin brought.

Stop and think about it. Love is not the most natural thing that comes to a human heart. Selfishness is! Babies are not taught the concept of “Give me! Give me! Give me!” No. We have to teach them that it’s ok, often good, to not get exactly what you want when you want it.

It may not manifest in “hate” or “violent acts”, but each and every one of us have in our hearts the very same corrupt, selfish, sinful nature that leads some to commit violent tragedies like in Colorado … or the sick deeds done at Penn State.

We want to recoil from that thought and say, “No! Not me! I’m a good person.” But if we look, even at our own definition of what is “good” we see that we fail miserably.
How much more do we fail God’s standard?

Every one of us, from Mother Teresa to Stalin to Martin Luther King Jr to Bob the plumber with a great family and loving friends, we all have within us the capacity for vile evil deeds.

But our selfishness doesn’t have to manifest in extreme examples. We might lie to our boss to cover a mistake. Maybe its just a small bit of road rage. Maybe we flirt with that attractive co-worker … it’s not like you’re “really” cheating. Do you drive through the “nice” neighborhoods or “window shop” at car lots wondering when you’ll get to have something nice?

James 2:10 says, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

That’s why Jesus had to come and die on the cross and be raised three days later. There is no way our desperately wicked (corrupt, selfish, pride filled) hearts could ever earn God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

And if we cannot come to terms with the reality of our own selfishness and sinfulness, how can we ever humble ourselves and be forgiven?

That shooter you see on the news may have been troubled, crazy, mentally ill or a psychopath. But those are just the surface motivations for this particular deed. His real problem, the cause of such a vile act, is the same selfish, corrupt, sinful heart that lives in each of us.

Mark chapter five is packed with all sorts of goodies. Consider the idea that we experience and relate more to STORY than anything else. I’ve heard Mark’s Gospel referred to as the “Action Gospel” because he doesn’t include a lot of sermons or theological doctrine lectures from Jesus. It’s mostly narrative. he’s just telling us what happened. Telling us THE STORY.

But in those stories are books worth of theological truth. In chapter 5 we have Jesus raising a dead girl and healing a woman who merely touches His cloak. But the part that jumped out to me is the showdown He has at the beginning with a possessed guy.

Chapter 4 left off with Jesus and the disciples crossing the sea to what should have been a quiet area for some rest. They get out of the boats, however, and they are approached by a raving lunatic. While it’s true Satan tends to work quietly and covertly (2 Cor 11:14), from time to time we do get to see up front what darkness does to a person. This man has a “legion” of demons in him. A legion is a military unit that can consist of up to 6,000 soldiers. Talk about being tormented. The sort of effect that kind of darkness has on a man.

Stop a moment and imagine you’re one of the disciples. You just got out and are tying down the boat then there he comes. You see a naked man (Luke 8) come running towards you from the graveyard (v3), crying out or screaming (v5), likely scarred and/or bleeding from self inflicted wounds (v5), and maybe even with broken chains still hanging from his limbs (v4). He comes toward you with a rage and fury that would be terrifying (Matthew 8 says people avoided the area because he was so violent).

Hollywood has so dramatized possession and exorcisms that the idea has become so fantastic we find it hard to actually conceive of it. Peaceful, kind angelic beings are popular, but the idea of an evil equivalent is considered ridiculous. But believe it. Evil is real. Spirits are real. And evil spirits are real. And here we see the extreme consequence of so much darkness corrupting one man.

But what do we see happen?

The guy sees Jesus and falls on his face before Him. Yeah, this raving maniac that people avoid and who has supernatural strength enough to break chains is immediately brought to his knees is the presence of The Son of God (v6). He knows who Jesus is. Ie even says it: “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” (v7)

We often think or hear the idea that there is a war or a battle going on between God and Satan. Yeah, that’d be like Chuck Norris “battling” with a toddler. There is no battle. The authority and power is not in question. During the last 4 chapters we’ve seen Jesus silencing demons. He says, “Don’t speak,” and they don’t speak … CAN’T speak. Here we have a LEGION of demons cowering in fear and begging for mercy. And all Jesus had to do was get out of a boat. God is sovereign. Demons HAVE to obey. And obey they do.

As we see, Jesus casts them out into a herd of swine and they run into the sea.

Now, I doubt any of us are dealing with a legion of demons. In fact, if you’ve received forgiveness from Christ, the Holy Spirit is in you, and the “no vacancy” sign is out. Some people even believe demon possession was just something during Jesus’ time and things don’t operate that way anymore. However, even without possession, the spiritual reality is that we are influenced by, tempted by, and manipulated by evil all the time. Whether directly by an evil spirit or just by our own sinful desires, we face darkness and corruption.

And Jesus, “Son of the Most High God,” has complete and total authority over everything, even evil. Before Him it MUST fall back. Before The Light of the World (John 1:4) evil shudders with fear (James 2:19). Daily we fight battles that HE has already won for us. We cower in fear or give in to manipulation to things we already have power over through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”