In our church circles today we speak more often about personal sin than we do about evil. In our culture we fear to speak about how systems perpetrate evil on vulnerable people. Underlying the trauma of abuse and violence lies evil; and the result of evil is suffering.
We must address this topic with a deep sense of humility to listen and learn from each other. In this endeavor we are called to do what the Apostle Paul says, “Look not are the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We do this with the aid of God’s Word, remembering that all of our souls have been invaded by the same sin sickness that has invaded our souls, minds and hearts.
Our Creator made us in His image, but the image of God in us is now fallen. Some of what God originally created is still there, but often hard to see. This picture of marred creation reminds of a necklace a friend gave me last year for Christmas. It is made of shards of a delicate and beautiful porcelain tea cup, all that remained some years ago after a tsunami in Japan. The shards are small and jagged but you can clearly see that the whole was exquisite. You and I are a bit like this necklace. The damage is hideous, but the remnant of our former glory can still be seen in the shards.
The fact is that we are created to reflect God’s glory in the flesh, and that glory has been shattered by sin and evil makes the study of evil critical. It is critical because it is what has destroyed our ability to reflect the image of God. That which has the capacity to destroy the beauty of what God created deserves our serious attention.
In the face of the deception of evil, we have been told for years that problems in human beings is largely a result of low self-esteem. This was the answer for bad behavior, violence, and troubled marriages. The answer was to raise someone’s low self-esteem and they would be fine. Christians have dutifully followed along adapting these thoughts. There is a problem: it is not true.
As more research has been done the evidence does not support this belief. It has been found that perpetrators of violence are typically people who think highly of themselves. Violence ensues when people feel that their favorable view of themselves is threatened or disputed by others. Satan himself, who is the very essence of evil, ended up there because of his pride and very high self-esteem (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Scripture does not call us to high or low self-esteem it calls us to have an accurate view of self. To think to highly of a self that is riddled with sin is to be deluded. To fail to value a soul for whom Christ died is an affront to God.
The Word of God tells us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). We have an adversary whose very business is to destroy our souls.
What do we do about this enemy? We must remember he is the author of sin. He is the father of lies and deception. He is full of malice and insatiable cruelty. He comes looking like God as much as he can in order to deceive us.
Our only safety is in our Refuge, Rock, and Redeemer. Because of our awareness of evil and sin and its profound impact on lives we must be known as a praying community. We must be humble and repentant knowing that we need the Word, the Spirit, and the body of fellow believers to keep us from falling like enemy did.
If we understand these truths, we will know that we can never solve the riddles of the Enemy. We cannot figure out one who in his essence is a lie. Jesus told His disciples when the Enemy was resistant to their efforts, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). These activities are directed toward God. The more we see the Enemy’s deception at work in our lives and others, the more we need to seek after God.