Tue May 1st, 2018
In the beginning, everything that God made was good.
Gen 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.
Man was not only good but had the breath of God’s life within him
Gen 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.
God made man to live and that living was wonderful – alive and free to eat of all the fruit.
Live is still a very powerful word, even though that life seems so far away and distant from us.
It may be just coincidence but live spelt backwards is evil. You must ask why is it that evil so interferes with us live-ing!
Live vs. evil
God has always wanted us to choose life and to choose that which is good and there was a choice in the beginning to avoid the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was simply this – you can eat anything but don’t touch that tree or it will kill you! (Genesis 2:16)
Everything was fine until outside interference came along, in the form of the serpent, or that creature inhabited by the spirit enemy of God and man – Satan. Unbalanced reason can be terribly damaging, and it certainly was here, in that Adam and Eve were tricked into believing that God was holding out on them and they chose to eat of the tree that God had warned them about.
You could say that if God is all knowing that he should have had the sense to not give them the choice – but without the choice there was no free will, no way of choosing to obey God! They did obey God for a long time, but when the serpent saw his opportunity, the embodiment of evil saw the life that was in mankind and wanted to rob them of it so they would not continue to live.
From eating the forbidden fruit to murder seems a huge step, but in one generation mankind had learnt to kill itself. If evil can be stepped up to that degree in one generation, then what about ten, or a hundred or a thousand?
Gen 4:8 Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
We see the records of the horrors of evil in mankind in our modern history – the Holocaust of the 20###sup/sup### century, genocide in Rwanda – we see some of it recorded in our own Bibles (such as Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in Matthew 2). How did evil overcome the power to live in such a fashion?
The same serpent that interfered originally, has continued to inspire rebellion to God’s laws and try to make ‘live’ work backwards for us all. Some of the horrific crimes we read or hear about you may say “how can anyone imagine such an evil act?” – and yet they do! Is all evil inspired by Satan?
This week I was listening to someone say how they taught a dog to fetch a ball – and not that I am trying to likin us to dumb animals, but we learn to do evil from an early age. I remember when I first saw a child of mine choose to act according to their sinful nature and the shock I had. The truth is that we are a very adaptable race and full of creativity and life that God had placed in us – how we use that is up to us and I would suggest to you that we can be very inventive in how cruel we can be.
Jer 17:9 "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? NLT
To say that mankind is basically good is to miss the point and duck the issue. People have some great qualities but they also have some bad ones. God reaches out to us in Jesus because we are not basically good and all need a saviour.
Sometimes I think that the devil doesn’t have to inspire people too much, because often they have seen so much evil. In 2004, Robert Winston said in the Guardian that “by the time they are 18, American children will have seen around 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence on TV. I am not aware of definite figures for the UK, but you can imagine it will not be too far behind. Cain saw Abel killing his flock for a sacrifice to God and probably used the same method on him – we are good at learning.
Some children are so abused that the modern proverb says that they become abusers themselves.
Did Satan inspire the Holocaust? Or the genocides in Rwanda or in Bosnia, or Armenia?
Perhaps, but also it may be that the creativity and propensity for evil in the people behind these horrors was just one step away beforehand and they simply took a further step.
How does a perfect man in one generation become a Hitler in another – one bad decision at a time!
We always use Hitler as a standard for evil don’t we, but there are lots of others - Fred West, Peter Sutcliffe, Robert Black, Dennis Nilsen and the list goes on. We like to make stereotypes and show off the worst as examples thinking that we may never be like them. The other day I watched a black comedy movie called Bernie. Based on a real story, Bernie is serving 50 years for the murder of an old lady. The movie made him out to be a good Christian man who was just pushed too far – in fact they moved his trial because they didn’t feel they could get a conviction in his home town because he was so loved. Sometimes the media presents murders as heroes and ordinary good people as boring. It is getting hard to know who is the villain this week in some long running TV shows because everyone has a turn. – is there any wonder we struggle with right and wrong – after all we are told it is all relative anyway!
I am not one of those people who blames everything on violence in video games or in TV programmes, but neither am I one who would deny that all these things have an effect – the subliminal drip effect – we can always see a way out, and that way out might be through hurting someone else.
It only took a few generations to need a flood to purge the earth of the evil of mankind:
Gen 6:5 When the Lord saw that man's wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, 6 the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
It also brought about a change in the heart of God, that he vowed to never flood the earth again, but that does mean that the evil in mankind has only been checked through the years through intermittent revivals when people have turned to God in their millions.
Gen 8:21 "I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man's inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.
You cannot say that evil came from the creator:
James 1:13 No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
However, we can all say that there are powers of evil at work sowing seeds of suffering amongst us.
Eph 6:12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13
The Bible talks about a resistance against evil – a battle that must be fought, but can be done so with a guarantee that Jesus is with us and has already won the decisive battle of the war. This battle with evil is overcome by good. John Mosey quoted after the death of his daughter on Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie that:
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. Rom 12:21
- He has gone on to demonstrate that by great works of love in the Islamic world.
Paul told us to :
Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every form of evil. 1 Thess 5:21-22
- This requires attention and resistance.
Finally, the writer to the Hebrews tells us that we must be trained to distinguish between good and evil:
Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Heb 5:13-14
Part of the emphasis of the Christian walk is that we submit our senses to Jesus for training, that we might not be overcome with evil but instead might overcome evil with good.