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Evil exists in our world today! It always has existed and always will exist until the Lord calls a halt to this world as we know it! Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The times are evil; that is, there is much that is evil in them. It would be to our shame and discredit if we failed to recognize that evil; if we wrapped ourselves in a foolish optimism and failed to war with heart and strength against that evil.”
We have been timid too long and failed miserably to appreciate both the existence and destruction brought about by evil. We complain about it when it interrupts our daily lives, but have given far too little thought to understand it fully.
Have you ever seriously pondered the words of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil?” If there had not been the eternal threat of evil those words would not have been spoken. He could have said lots of things, but chose to pray about the evil we face.
Likewise, Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Ephesians, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.” (6:10-12)
There are spiritual forces of evil in this world! Make no mistake about it! Evil exists in our world and is wreaking havoc! Quite often people ask, “Why is there evil in the world?” A number of answers could be given.
Some bad things happen to people in our world because of God’s judgment. You will no doubt remember the great flood as recorded in Genesis or the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible is filled with many other examples of judgment because of sin.
However, let me say that I am not one of those who tries to tie the evil we see today to any one sinful decision or action. I am convinced that neglect of God’s desires for His people brings judgment and continual doing so brings more and worse judgment.
Evil also exists because we live in an imperfect world where imperfect things happen all the time. Again Paul helps us with understanding our world. For believers he said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.... For the creation was subjected to frustration...We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8: 18,19, 22) The Scripture seems to indicate that our world, which God created, is no longer a perfect place because of sin. We suffer in this life. The whole world is frustrated and groaning because of its imperfection.
I would also suggest to you that evil happens to us sometimes because of the sin of others.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” If we sow good, we will reap good. If we sow evil, we will reap evil. (Gal. 6:7) Far too many times I have witnessed heartache and tragedy happening to good people because of the sins of others. Sometimes it may be at the hands of drunk drivers or more recently good policemen losing their lives because of the hatred of others toward them.
The ultimate answer to the subject of evil is that there is a source and a personification of evil. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) It should be obvious to us who are in Christ that evil exists in the world today because of the evil one called Satan or the Devil. Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them (speaking of believers) out of this world, but that you would protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)
Maybe you have heard what the great preacher of another generation, Billy Sunday, said about Satan. “I know the devil is real for two reasons. Number one because the Bible says so. And number two because I’ve done business with him.” Whether we realize this or not, there are multitudes of people in our world today who are doing business with the devil. They may not know it, but they are! Hatred of what is good, right and honest comes straight from the one who stands as an Adversary to our God.
So is there any hope? Paul, Peter and James help us again. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground...” (Eph. 6:10) “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) “Resist him, stand firm in the faith…” (I Peter 5:9)
We may not be able to remove all sin and evil from the world. Only Christ will do that when He returns. We may not be able to stop all the pain which will come to us personally from the sin of others. But we can do our best to keep from hurting others and ourselves when we take our faith seriously. There is no question in my mind if all the Christians in this country stood together for what is right and good, then we would see a change from the violence and evil which is going on around us. We must learn to pray as our Lord taught us, “Thy will be done…” and mean it. The Bible reminds us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21)
The beloved preacher, Vance Havner, once told a story about an elderly lady who was greatly disturbed by her many troubles--both real and imaginary. Finally, someone in her family tactfully told her, "Grandma, we’ve done all we can do for you. You’ll just have to trust God for the rest." A look of absolute despair came over her face as she replied, "Oh dear, has it come to that?"
I’m afraid it has come to that. May we never repeat the words of our Lord, “Deliver us from evil,” without giving serious thought to what they mean!