The Problem of Evil is an ancient one! Ever since the Dawn of Mankind, it has, in one form or another, existed & pervaded our lives. As such, Evil happens when one human being does something that another does not like, or even something that is unlawful. Thus, when a person is accustomed to doing things his or her neighbor does not like, or persists in doing unlawful things, that person may be called Evil! However, the 'fact' that this person is Evil may be relative, depending on what he or she is doing that his or her neighbor does not like or what law they are breaking!
The Law of God, as we have seen, is absolute! Our Creator has given us One Law to live by, and that Law, in summary, as Jesus put it,is, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength..........and your neighbor as yourself'. The question of 'who is my neighbor?' is one that has been debated since ancient times as well! Put simply, your neighbor is one who is in need; if you can help that person, they are your neighbor!
Israel, under that first covenant, had broken God's Law! By failing to love the Lord their God & their neighbor, they had fallen from Grace & had become an Evil! Our Heavenly Father solved that problem by sending His Son to rid the world of that Evil! By sacrificing Himself on the Cross, Jesus definitively defeated Evil & when He came, through the power of Rome, to destroy Jerusalem & the Temple, He decisively exhausted that Evil, bringing it to its knees!
'But, Evil still persists', one might object! It certainly does; there is no denying that fact! As long as human beings continue to deny the relationship, both to God & each other, Evil will always exist! There will always be somebody out there who dislikes what another does, and there will always be some law forbidding a given action. One cannot get away from Evil, but one can lessen the effects of Evil in their own lives!
A certain movie recently showed in our local threater, a movie based on a true story of a young man who was captured by the Japanese & interned in a Prisoner-of-War camp for the duration of the war. Called 'Unbroken', this movie focused on the stamina & endurance of an Olympic athlete who was drafted into WWII, captured behind enemy lines & tortured beyond measure in a Japanese war camp! The scene, near the end, that brought most of the audience to tears, was one where, under duress, the persecuted stared his persecutor down & brought him to his knees; he had exhausted Evil!
Evil DOES persist! As long as human beings walk the earth, we will continue to see its devastating effects! As we have seen, though Evil may persist, it can also be defeated & exhausted! By following the words of Jesus to 'love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you' & 'whatever you want men to do to you, do also unto them', we can defeat the evil purposes of men & women! By refusing to partake in their unlawful actions, one may turn aside much Evil, either by persuading the other to repent of their wickedness, or by exhausting that person so that he or she tires of perpetrating the Evil!
Jesus came to save His people from the effects of Evil, that is, their own ( through the first Adam ) unlawful deeds! By His sacrifice on the Cross, He exhausted the Evil that His People had perpetrated; they did their worst & when they could do no more, they were brought to their knees, trembling in the weakness & humiliation! Jesus accomplished His Father's Purpose, He brought Evil to its knees, totally exhausting it; it could do no more against Him!
Evil can be defeated, its purposes exhausted! Even though Evil is bound up in the hearts of men & women everywhere, it can be driven from its stronghold! Some may feel that the best & only way to eradicate evil is to rid the land of those who commit it, but this sort of action only tends to spawn more Evil! By executing an evil person, which no doubt is just, one only causes their mother, father, brother or sister ( neighbor ) to raise up in their place, continuing the cycle of Evil, ensuring its perpetuity!
When we, as the People of God, decide that Evil will no longer affect their lives, but that they instead will affect Evil, then we may see a world with less & less Evil! As we thus influence men & women around the world to treat their neighbor with the same love & respect that they themselves long for, the Kingdom of Heaven will see such an expansion as it has never witnessed, not since the days of Jesus! May we, as the People of God & the Body of Christ, determine within ourselves to exhaust Evil to the point where it gives up & dies, to rise no more!
Charles Haddon Shank