There is evil in the world. To deny that reality is to embrace tragedy and unnaturalness. There is that which is evil aside from what anyone of us might think. Evil is more than what we think or do. We can be evil, that is we can think and do evil things. Evil is a complex thing which touches all of us in some way. We make judgments about what or who we think is evil. We use terms to describe what is evil.
The complexity of evil must be considered in the terms what we use to explain and express its reality. This is true of most religions of whatever kind we might consider. Most people do not think of themselves as evil, indeed they often consider that what they are doing maybe right and good, certainly not evil. For example, this has certainly been true of those who have done the most horrendous and awful things. This certainly was the case with leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, among a large list of other leaders in the past that we might could list.
History has judged these individuals and their heritage as wrong, vicious, immoral, murderous, demonic, devilish, satanic, malicious, wicked, or sinful. There maybe other terms that we might use in explaining what or who is evil. These give some indication as to the complexity and content of that which we label evil.
There are those in the world today who see the United States as the “great Satan,” demonic and evil. This was true of those who flew the planes into the Pentagon, the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pennsylvania ground. They thought they were doing good in attacking the United States, the Great Satan. Of course, these same folks see Israel as a “little Satan,” and intend to destroy that small nation. The interesting thing about some of these folks’ thinking is their denial of the Holocaust as real history. That effort continues as many try to rewrite history and thereby justify horrible things.
This destructive mentality was what drove the hordes during the era of the Islamic Jihad and the “Christian” Crusades.
It isn’t just radical Islam that has fostered tragic and grievous things.
We must remember the Crusades, the Inquisition and the intolerance and cruelty of other eras, even that in colonial America when witches were executed. History is the record of man’s cooperation with and tolerance of evil; a definition and distinction categorizing what is good and/or evil. As we consider the importance of this definitive and distinctive work we must certainly understand what Jesus said and what He meant. “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?
“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.”
Jesus continued with an application of His story, “But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49). Our building is not just physical and material. It is intellectual and spiritual. We must dig deep and plant a secure foundation that will stand the rain and wind, the storm and flood that descends in torrential violence. Behind whatever we do we must see the presence and power of God who has promised that He would be with us. This is the God who survived the hatred, hostility, rejection and death of the cross. This is Jesus Christ, the revelation of God who comes in resurrection power to express the reality of a Heavenly Father, not one who commands us to kill ourselves to destroy others, but One who comes in us to say to those full of such destructive hatred—God is love and the reality of that fact is seen in Jesus and in the lives of His people.
As unpleasant as it maybe, we must accept the reality that evil must be restrained and resisted. We must believe that Jesus Christ, God revealed in human flesh, is greater than all the evil in our world combined. He is mighty, indeed almighty, and able to still the storm, stop the rain, calm the sea, heal the sick, stay the hand of evil, rebuke Satan, even as He reigns supreme in and through all things. All who resist Him will be defeated. He is death to all lies and liars; Truth to all who seek that which is true, good and right. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
We are living in an age of lies and deceptions. Lying has become for many, even Christians, acceptable and excuseable. For many truth is not important; for most people today “truth” is relative. In other words, what is true now may not be later or for another person not true at all.
There is for many people relativism. They live where truth cannot be absolute. There are many gods and none of them absolutely right or good. In such a dualistic world the “force” is working and good and evil vying for control and dominance. Star Wars is the philosophical statement—“The Force be with you.” So all life is relative, impersonal, changing. There is no personal God, merely a force impersonal, acting to give value to evil or good as determined by each individual. Each person is absolutely selfish and determined.
In such an age we must speak the truth of God—He is! He is sovereign, controlling everyone and everything. As John Piper has argued, “God is the Gospel.”
This God advances and advocates good and He deals with evil and those who embrace it. He is the absolute Judge of all people and all things. Dr. Jerry Hopkins is a retired university professor and historian