Exposing and explaining evil is only a step in the right direction. Having got there, one needs to know and understand the solution in order to move on forward constructively. Christ’s example and teaching puts the responsibility for dealing with evil onto us, individually. Thassrite, EwenMe! Assuming that evil is built upon deception and that Jesus’ claim to be the Truth has validity, this post presents the incredibly simple but oh so hard to do solution – written as per usual from a Christian perspective.
A friend of mine recently asked to speak about godly matters. She clearly had issues with the god-thing, quizzing me about the after-life, God’s judgment and so on. Cautious about taking on a counselling role as well as spiritual leadership (she has previously reported abuse & psychiatric issues) this post describes the biblical solution to evil. I share first how deception can take place and then get into the solution proper.
In my friend’s case deception came to her in two ways – first probably falsely ascribing an adverse spiritual encounter to God and secondly by interpreting judgment from God overly harshly, most likely as a result of her religious upbringing.
The Christian worldview is that mankind has fallen, thus we are all in the poo! We call this being in a state of sin. This word “sin” though is different in that this is an abstract noun describing the ‘state of being’, rather than the more common usage meaning a word, thought or deed. In language this is represented by the subtle difference between saying, “I have sinned!” and “I am a sinner!” both examples used by Jesus in one of His parables. In the former we acknowledge that we have done wrong. In the latter we acknowledge that our sinfulness is a state of being, much more deeply than thinking that we erred [but also see ourselves as ‘righteous’].
I learned this difference personally in a rather traumatic way in my early 20s when I was ‘evicted’ [technically I chose to leave], from Centrepoint Community in Albany, Auckland, which was basically a New Age sex-commune led by guru Bert Potter, later convicted as a pedophile. My crime in the former category was that I chose not to commit adultery with others who wanted it. Yes I mean that, because in that free-sex environment/context I was a fish out of water. My crime in the latter case was that I thought that I was better than the rest, no doubt because of my choice, I touched their consciences.
So yes, I was guilty on both charges. Yes, I refused to, as they put it, “give myself permission” to behave in alternative ways, and yes, I did think that I was better than the people around me who screwed whoever they wanted regardless of prior commitments and biblical expectations to remain monogamous. My resulting personal problems stemmed not so much from the refusal to entertain adultery, it was the second, more insidious fact – I was indeed ‘up myself’ with pride, even though I did the right thing, and supposedly for the right reason.
This realisation (that I was by nature a sinner) was simultaneously literally the lowest point of my life but also the turning point upon which my life actually turned around – as it could only get better from there! Yes, I had met God [or ‘had been zapped’ whatever you want to call it] at the age of 20, but at 23 I learned the supreme importance of knowing that I was crooked through and through by nature. Of course from there, I could then choose to say, think and do the right thing, knowing that, “There but the grace of God go I!” as it is famously spoken of. Future claims of being ‘up myself’ were simple to handle – accept the charge, apologise (if necessary) and get on with life!
Pride is always the cause of distance between mankind and his Creator – always. Adam and Eve conspired to become like God which was pride. It was the method by which evil failed originally as well, with Lucifer’s prior downfall. Pride is enabled by fear and pain, two pillars by which all ungodly, anti-social and self-destructive behaviour is supported.
I asked my friend what she made of my words, to which she responded, “It makes sense!” which is an acknowledgement of truth. Wisdom is simply the application of ‘the God thing’ to truth. I define wisdom as having the heart and mind of God in a given situation. We may know that God is love and that He loves us all, but it is wisdom when we know the right time to tell another that God loves them and to know how to do that . . . in this case from a man to a woman, from a mature Christian man to a person struggling with their identity, and in particular one who has come from a religious environment.
So having worked backwards from the solution to the cause, let’s invert this same scenario now working from the cause to the same solution . . .
My friend chose to do something wrong, or bad, or ungodly. However you describe what she did doesn’t matter for the moment but she knew instinctively that what she said, thought or did was ungodly. Her conscience was triggered which opened her up to an adverse spiritual experience. It probably scared her, and it was severe enough for her to mention it to me, and to initiate spiritual questions of me.
The spiritual event that she experienced at the same time or similar to her failure, she ascribed to God, and His judgment. In my phone call, I called it His wrath. According to Ron McKenzie (and I concur) the wrath of God is an evil spirit not the Holy Spirit, because it is God’s nature to love and to care and to forgive. The Holy Spirit is described as a peace-maker; like a dove, not an angry killer, like a bird of prey. The Holy Spirit restrains evil. When we insist upon acting against His word, we enable evil which then has legal authority to act as judge. The book of Job shows us that evil has to ask permission of the Lord to outwork evil, and if asked to recount how this conversation would have gone with my friend, based on Job’s story it would have been:
Hey God, look at this girl . . . she knows she did wrong – see, look at her guilty conscience! That means we can go in for the kill doesn’t it?
Yeah, but she’s one of mine, so you can frighten her and try to mess with her mind but leave her soul alone. That’s mine!
I don’t really know how evil spirits communicate with God but this is a hypothetical situation!
Then boom! Something happens that seems to have put my friend into a tailspin. “I’m now in deep doodoo! Maybe God hit me? Maybe I’m going to hell in a handbasket?”
My friend says that she was raised in a Salvation Army environment, which is IMHO an overly legalistic one. To view God as One ready to punish at the drop of a hat and to judge would be perfectly natural from her perspective, however this is a distortion of His character, a lie, deliberately designed to tarnish His nature. Destroying the legalistic approach to religion was one of THE central missions of Christ’s ministry here on earth. Jesus’ compassion and practical help stunned those around Him as He demonstrated to us and for all time the true nature of the Father.
My take on my friend’s experiences is that the adverse spiritual events came from the spirit of wrath, not the Holy Spirit, and that they were designed to reinforce her overly judgmental view of her Creator. The evil intent was to condemn her, using fear and her conscience to bring guilt upon her. Fear of course is one of the pillars of pride in the above graphic. Remove pride and the fear disappears! Faithlessness, worry, tension all the results of fear too disappear – automatically.
The part that was missing, the deception, was that of course there are consequences to doing something wrong but that almost all of the time the reality is that God awaits our humbling, repenting and then turning back to Him. When we do this good things result – we call it blessing.
The incredible release that comes immediately upon acknowledging our sinful state is called “the peace of God which passes all understanding!”
I find it intriguing that Christ only ever dealt with the evil of the world one on one. It’s like He could have waived His hands from the Cross and shown the whole world who He really was. He could have zapped us all into Nirvana, or Heaven in an instant. What good would that do however to have a bunch of puppets all bowing down and forced to do good things. It’s almost like He wanted us to all learn and choose to do the honourable thing.
Maybe not easy though, so sadly, most don’t.