by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.” (I John 5:19)
“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.” (I Peter 5:8)
These two passages, on the surface, are not good news. The presence of evil is manifest when we go astray and depart the path of goodness. It is fair for us to ask where do we find deliverance? Where is the help that we need? We tend to use the word, evil, for behavior and sin that has reached an extreme level: Natzism and the Holocaust, Issis in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries, parents who murder their children and children who murder their parents. These remind us of the capacities that human beings have for great evil. The disregard of God, and ignoring one’s conscience can lead to human behavior that is detestable and horrible.
We live in a world that is in turmoil. We see it in the violence in the streets in many American cities; in the killing that continues in Syria and Iraq, with little hope of resolve. We see it in the wickedness of the governing regime in North Korea. We see it in the city of Chicago, with a murder rate that is out of control; much of it blacks killing blacks. We saw it in in the foolish recklessness and vandalism that occurred in Huntington Beach, California 21 July 2014. People rioting, not for any cause or belief—just for the delight of destroying and pillaging property and fighting with one another!
We seek for a life that is free of evil. We do not fully understand what there is in our lives that make us say and do and think things that are wrong and are on the borderline of evil. If we, who believe in Jesus Christ, have a strong desire to please him—that makes an important difference. We are not sinless, we still struggle with our sin, nonetheless, we recognize that God has made a difference in our lives. While that is very good, it may lead us to underestimate the power of evil and the damage that it does. In other words, all of us are to be on our guard.
As we ponder some of these things, what are we to do? The Bible urges us to be strong:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (I Corinthians 16:13,14)
We are to be students of the word of God. We are to worship regularly. We are to avoid associates with those who themselves are evil. We are to keep company with those who can be helpful and encouraging to us. Our God is well able to deliver us from the bondage of sin, and to lead us in the paths of righteousness.
“He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:2,3)