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Saturday, December 06, 2014

Exploring the Problem of Evil ( The Nature of Evil )

Evil is a funny thing; it's all around us, yet actually, it doesn't really exist!

Some may beg to differ, and in fact, history itself seems to teach us to the contrary! Though our own experience seems to tell us that evil exists, as we have seen previously, evil is not a tangible thing, per se; it simply happens! For ages, there has been talk of evil personified, and truly, it is rather useless to deny the fact that some people are, well, just plain evil, and then there are those that are more insidious ( 'Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light'-II Corinthians 11:14 ). There can be no question, especially in light of yesterday's & today's headlines, that there is plenty of evil happening all around the world; even here in our own country!

Can evil BE personified? Does it have a nature ( of its own )? Sure, we can look at many Scriptures that seem to prove the existence of a malevolent spirit-being named 'Satan', yet these same Scriptures, in most if not all cases, prove this 'Satan' ( adversary' ) to be a mere man ( Ezekiel 28:2 )! In this sense, then, evil exists in the form of any person who exalts himself above God! In actuality, though, evil is something that happens, because an 'evil' person can repent, 'evil' can be redeemed, 'evil' can be rectified!

Traditionally, for instance, 'Satan', as a fallen spirit-being, can never be redeemed! Even the angels in Heaven itself will never experience the joys of salvation! There is much useless ( and rather idiotic ) speculation associated with many of these traditions, even though there are doubtless numerous proof-texts to support this tradition.

Evil is most definitely a big problem in this day & age, as in ages past, and it most certainly has a definable nature to it! The apostle John, when he wrote his letters to the Church in Jerusalem ( I John 4:3 ), warned them that 'the spirit of the Antichrist...............is now already in the world'. According to John then, who walked with our Lord, this was not simply a person, but one 'that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh'! There was a certain spirit of men in Jesus' time that did not believe He was the Son of God & there was an opposing spirit that believed He was Who He said He was; it was the former 'spirit' that was cast into the Lake of Fire at the end of that age ( Revelation 20:10-15 )!

Let us explore a few of the more familiar texts that 'prove' the existence of this fallen spirit-being!

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
Job 1:6

Although traditionally speaking, this is fairly strong evidence that 'Satan' exists, we know, both from further contextual study of the phrase, 'sons of God' ( Genesis 6:2 & 4, Galatians 3:26 ), that these referenced were simply men with a spirit in communion with their Heavenly Father! There is further speculation among some traditions, that posit that those 'sons of God' in Genesis 6 were spirit-beings themselves, but this has been shown to be absurd, almost to the point of hilarity, if not for the fact that many still believe this!

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

This event is used by many to 'prove' the existence of 'Satan' as a fallen spirit-being! Questions like, 'was Jesus simply battling with His own inner demons?', might be aimed at those who deny the existence of this 'evil' being. 'How could the Jewish High Priest have taken Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple?'  'How could he have taken Jesus up to a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world & offered them to Jesus if only He would fall down & worship him?' Besides the fact that there is no literal mountain on this globe for any man, even Jesus, to be able to see every kingdom on earth, this can be shown, in the context of the Story, to be simply a glimpse of Jesus's Temptation by 'the lust of the eyes' ( I John 2:16 )

And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Luke 10:18

There you go, irrefutable proof that 'Satan' exists, or used to, anyway; Jesus Himself witnessed this 'Fall'! This however, itself brings up interesting, though quite useless speculation about 'when': was Jesus speaking of seeing Satan cast to earth at some earlier point in history ( Lamentations 2:1, Ezekiel 28:16, Isaiah 14:12 ), or was He speaking, as is traditional & orthodox, of the fact that He had granted His followers 'authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy'? Was Isaiah 14 simply a preview, if you will, of coming attractions? Was the fall of the king of Babylon really just a type, in metaphor, for the future fall of Satan?

There are many more & maybe better 'proof-texts' for the existence of 'Satan', or of evil personified, but these will suffice to show that this spirit was simply one in opposition to the Spirit of God! Men who possessed this spirit, who opposed God's Purpose of Redemption for the whole world * not just Israel according to the flesh, were the Adversary, or adversaries of which Scripture speaks: I mean, for God's sake, Jesus called Peter himself 'Satan' ( Matthew 16:23 )! And why? Because Peter, at that point, stood in opposition to the Purpose of Jesus!

Again, there can be no question that evil exists in the form of anyone that exalts himself or herself against the purposes of God, who denies that 'Jesus Christ has come in the flesh'! There is much evil in the world, but it comes simply from those who nurture & spread this spirit of malcontent & hatred, their hatred of God & denial of His loving Natures causes them to perpetrate such acts that are worthy only to be called 'evil'! Our only respite from this 'evil', through the Power of the Spirit within us, is to work, both to rectify the existent evil & and to stay our own hand from doing evil!

May we ever work to this end, always bearing this Spirit Within us & presenting the Love of God to His World, opposing 'evil' in whatever form it may take, in the knowledge that the Spirit Within Us is greater far than the spirit of malcontent & hatred ( 'evil' ) that possesses many in this world!

Let us go forth, conquering & to conquer!!!

Charles Haddon Shank

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