Is There Evil in Life?
Posted on 10/05/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
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Great is the Lord God Almighty
Great is the Lord on High
The train of His robe fills the temple
And we cry out highest praise
Glory to the risen King
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Let the King of Glory come in
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Holy is the Lord on high
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Holy and Anointed One
Your name is like honey
on my lips
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to my soul
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unto my feet
Jesus I love you
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I EXALT THEE
For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou art exalted
far above all gods
I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee
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Last week, we talked about something that could be considered a paradox. We talked about the statement that Life is perfect. Of course this was referring to perspective, since two people can encounter the same circumstance; one can see it as beautiful, while the other sees it as horrifying. The one might accept it as it is, taking action if appropriate, while the other is fighting against it with their mind, regardless of whether they take any positive action at all.
But the question came up after the service, how does evil fit into this perspective? Isn't there evil in the world?
So today, I would like for us to examine the Scriptures so we can answer the question, Is There Evil In Life.
First, I'd like to point out that I named today's message like I did, because it contains its own answer: "Is There Evil in Life."
"Life" is an English word that has been misused for a very long time, and the reason for that is that we, as a society, don't really know what "Life" IS. We generally think it's what has happened to us in the past and what is happening to us right now.
But that's just content. It's almost like asking, "What is your body?" and getting the answer, "My body is the clothes I'm wearing, and the seat in which I'm sitting. My body is this watch, and this jewelry. My body is also perfume or cologne. My body is socks and shoes. My body is a hat. My body is a pair of glasses."
What you do and what happens to you is no more your Life than your clothes are you body. If anything, the details of your circumstances tend to cover up your Life, and when you focus on them, your Life becomes obscured, and you start to confuse "it" with "them."
And that's the foundation of last week's message: Life really is perfect. Of course if that's just a concept in the head, it isn't really worth all that much. But what about your circumstances? Are they perfect too?
That's where the paradox comes in. And hang in there with me, we're about to talk about actual evil. But there COULD be evil in your circumstances, couldn't there? I mean, if something evil is happening to you, you shouldn't view that circumstance as perfect, should you?
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) says this:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
So someone has a sharp knife, and they're wasted on drugs, and they mean to mess you up. Is THAT circumstance perfect? Or is it okay to fight against "what is"?
Well, let's take a closer look. What IS the circumstance? Well, you're standing there. The guy is standing there. He has a little bit of foam coming out of his mouth. If the fire in his eyes was real, there would be a burnt hole where your head used to be.
In his hand is a knife. And with it, he is slashing the air as he menacingly approaches.
Is that circumstance evil?
Well, in the chapter before the verse we just read, Ephesians 5:20 tells us to give thanks always for all things.
This is part of "always," isn't it? And this is part of "all things," is it not? Is it not impossible to give thanks for something you are intently refusing to accept?
So it is as it is, dangerous as that "isness" might be. And if you have a gun, you might want to pull it out. And of course no one will have to remind you to be thankful for THAT.
But as we read a moment ago in Ephesians 6:12, it's not the flesh and blood, or the material circumstances, with which our fight belongs.
Perhaps, before firing your gun, you might, if the Spirit leads, bind the spirit controlling that man in Jesus' name. Even if his mindset behind his actions were not instigated by a demon, they assuredly are in league with true evil, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to take a swipe at the thing.
But let's go a step further. We in the Church tend to think our battle is with every little demon. Some of us see a light flicker, and we start casting demons out of it. But the verse we just read says that our battle is against what? It is against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Now, when Hitler was murdering Jews and others he thought were inferior, was he out there personally rounding them up, performing experiments, and killing them? Obviously that would have been impossible. Instead, it was those who were doing his bidding who did the acts. But we still say Hitler murdered millions of Jews.
So instead of being a technical description of our true enemy, Ephesians 6:12 is an expression of a principle.
When satan was cast out of heaven, the Bible tells us he took a third of the angels with him. Some of these just might have become the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, who oversee spiritual wickedness in high places.
So if we bind or cast out a demon, we're fighting those who sent them. And to go a step further, we're fighting the spiritual wickedness they serve.
We like to personify this wickedness by saying the devil is our enemy. And certainly he is NOT our friend. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV) says this:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
And so, when someone robs our house, we tend to blame the devil, as though satan personally caused it to happen. But we give that little worm way too much credit.
The truth of the matter is, if your house is cleaned out by burglars, Ephesians 5:20 instructs us to be thankful for THAT, too. Maybe your mind can come up with something that acts as a silver lining. But your spirit can just be there with God, with Life, smiling at "what is," because that's all there is, and it is good.
The loss of your earthly posessions is neither evil nor good. It just is. You were going to lose them all anyway. As 1 Timothy 6:7 says, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." And verse 8 continues, "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."
What does it matter if we blame the devil for the robbery? Is that going to change anything? If you're standing in an empty home, you're standing in an empty home. You can be unthankful for it and add to your suffering by thinking about what you've lost and the injustice of it all. Or you can be truly thankful and remain in the realm of Peace.
If you want to help protect others from the future actions of the people who broke into your home, then call the police. That's a good thing to do. And pray for them, that's an even better thing to do. They obviously still have not been reconciled to God, and because of that, the TRUE enemy is free to torment and control them. Hating the robbers or viewing them as your enemy is misplaced and counter productive. Hating the evil behind their estrangement from God, on the other hand, is much more appropriate.
And let's go all the way to the root of that evil. Is it the demons that are whispering in their ears and possibly living in their bodies? Are THEY the root of evil? Or is it the principalities and powers and rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places? Certainly we do wrestle against them. But are they the root of evil? They all were once angels who served God.
Perhaps it's the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says he is our adversary. So maybe HE is the root of evil. But, once again, he was once a beautiful angelic being who played beautiful music in worship to God.
So what is evil?
Well, let's go back to the title of today's message, the question: "Is there evil in Life?" Which, of course, brings us back to the question, "what IS Life?" It's not your story. It's not your past or your present circumstances. Rather, Life is something that enables you to experience all these things.
When you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, you don't say, "Hey, look at the light. THIS light is called a wall, and THAT light is called a table, and that OTHER light is called a chair. Oops, I just tripped over some light that someone left in the middle of the floor."
No, if all those things were light, then you would have seen them when you first entered the room. Instead, when you turned on the light, that light enabled you to see the physical objects. They are not that light; they are simply made visible BY the light. The light is what enables you to visually experience the physical contents of the room.
Just as Life is not your history; Life is not your circumstances; Life is not a series of events. Rather, Life is what enables you to experience the things we mistakenly call "our Life." They are not your Life; they are like the objects in the room, which would not even exist for your eyes if there were no light to illuminate them.
Life is the illuminating Breath of God which enables you to experience your Life's story. But whether that story goes over mountains or through valleys; through dry deserts or lush paradise gardens; through material gain or loss; through public praise or condemnation; Life is not those things. Life is that which is within you, and that which you are, and that which God is, all intertwined and quite possibly indistinguishable from one another.
As Genesis 2:7 tells us, Life is the Breath of God, breathed into us, becoming the living being, or being of Life, that we are.
And evil? Well, we could say that evil is the opposite of good. Just like true death, not physical death but TRUE death, is the opposite of Life.
Maybe that's what Romans 6:23 means, that sin is death while God's gift is Life.
Sin. Sin is death. The payment for sin is death. The just reward for sin is death. The nature of sin is death. The end result of sin is death. TRUE death. Not just death of the physical body, but absolute separation from the Source of Life. The Breather of Life. From Life itself. Or you could say Life HIMself.
Sin. Sin is stains around the Life you are that causes separation from the Source of Life. And just as Life manifests in your physical body and in the material world, so Death, or Sin, manifests in the things the Scriptures identify as wickedness.
Such as the passage found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. It mentions forms of Sin such as:
But there are OTHER forms, too. In fact, if one were to write a list and definition for every single form of Sin, the result would probably be many times larger than the Bible. That's why the Scriptures endeavor to point us to the principles of Life and Death, while giving a number of examples of their forms so we can know in which one we are walking.
Are you practicing some form of sexual sin? Such as lust? Or fornication? Or homosexual activity? Then that is simply a pointer, an indicator, an evidence, that you are not walking in Life, but that you are communing with Death instead.
And it is that root -- that Sin, that Death, which is the essence of true evil.
Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV) says this:
18 "Come now, and let us reason together,"
Says the Lord,
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be (white) as wool."
The author of the hymn, "Jesus Paid it All," worded that passage like this:
"Sin had left a crimson stain."
Sin leaves a spiritual stain. That stain may or may not manifest in the physical, but it is nonetheless there, making a distinction between You and God.
You can't remove it. Even if you somehow never engage in one more single manifestation of Sin, the stain will not fade away with time. In fact, since it makes a distinction, or separates you from, Life, once you Sin, you are in Sin forever BECAUSE of the separation that Sin creates.
Just like if you are Dead, and I'm talking about YOU, not your BODY; if YOU are Dead, you can't also be Alive. And if you are stained by Sin, you can not be Righteous, no matter how many outer manifestations of Righteousness you may choose to embrace.
The only way Your Life can be reconciled to the Source of Life, or the only way you can TRULY live, is to have that distinction, that differentiation, that separation, removed.
And this is a supernatural process. It is completely beyond your power to achieve.
Now, James 1:14 tells us that we are drawn to sin by our carnal earthly mind. But it's not the outer manifestation of Sin that is the problem. That's just a symptom. The pull of sin is our poisoned human mind that constantly desires the nature of Sin -- that which is contrary to the nature of God.
But even if your mind were suddenly and miraculously cured, you are still separated from the Source of Life by the stain of Sin. The stain of Death.
What IS Death? Well, PHYSICAL death is the separation from the body of that which gives it Life. And SPIRITUAL death is the separation from the human Life of that which gives IT Life: which is God.
And how does that separation occur? How does our Life, originally intimately intertwined and indistinguishible with the Source of Life, how does our Life become separated from Him?
By Sin. And we know we have connected with Sin when we see a manifestation of Sin. Such as envy. Lust. Grumbling. Lying. Pride. Self-absorption. Self-deceit.
These are all symptoms. Symptoms of Sin. Symptoms of Evil.
So to answer the question, "Is there Evil in Life?" The answer is that it would be impossible for this to be so, for Evil, or Sin, is what SEPARATES us from Life. It is what causes us to walk in and be sentenced to Death.
So yes, we do have an enemy. And yes, there is evil in the world. But no, that evil cannot cohabitate with Life. Its very nature is separation from Life.
So when we say that Life is Perfect, we know this is true. It can be no other way. Any true imperfection, and I say "true" because the human mind has its own false ideas about it; but any true imperfection is that which is not completely aligned with Life; and the only thing, if you can call it a "thing," that is not aligned with Life is Death, expressed in Sin, desired by the earthly mind, manifested and made obvious to us by transgressions.
So the details of the story of your Life are still perfect. In themselves, pain and hardships are neither good nor bad. They are not evil.
And while satan and the demons have chosen to align themselves with Evil, with Sin, with Death, they're only puppets.
Evil itself is nameless and faceless. It has no personality. It has no purpose. And you cannot defeat it by being so obsessed with it that you see it everywhere and in everything.
No one ever brings light to a dark room by stumbling around punching the air until the darkness finally gives up and goes away.
How do you overcome darkness? You shine Light.
And how do you overcome Evil? You embrace Life.
And how can you know if you're embracing Life, and if you're one with the Source of Life?
The same way you can recognize Sin -- by its outward manifestations; or, as the Bible puts it, by its fruit.
Let's read Galatians 5:18-23 (NKJV)
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
So the flesh, which is the poisoned earthly mind, performs works which are manifestations of Sin. And these sound an aweful lot like the list in 1 Corinthians 6.
Outbursts of anger.
"And the like." -- in other words, "and so on and so forth," or, "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."
If Sin were found in a list of "do nots," then I'm sure God would have inspired the writers of the Scriptures to compile an exhaustive list of them. That way, we can know we're righteous if we simply don't do anything on that list, and if we DO do all the things on some other list.
But transgressions are just the symptoms of Sin.
Verse 18 says this: "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
So you mean if I am just led by the Spirit, whatever I think that means, then it's okay if I commit adultery, because I am not under the law?
Well, if you are committing adultery, then you are being led by Sin, not by Spirit. Adultery is evil in the same way a cold is coughing and sneezing and a runny nose. Adultery is just a symptom of Sin, of Evil. Adultery is wrong because it is opposed to Life, and to the Source of Life.
Am I making this as clear as mud for you?
As I was preparing the notes for this message, I took some time to go outside and just sit in the sun. It's starting to get colder now, and the wind was blowing in impressive gusts.
The cold isn't any more evil than the sun that was warming my face. The wind isn't any more evil than the stillness out of which it came. The leaves drifting to the ground aren't any more evil than the fly that kept landing on my arm.
All the movement, all the sounds of the wind and the crickets and the cars that were occassionaly passing by, all the light from the sun and the shadows cast by the clouds passing between the sun and my earthly form; all these things are the manifestations of Life. The Life of God is evident everywhere, and thus I can say and I can know first hand that Life is Perfect, Life is Good.
And what is Evil? Is Evil the killing of millions of Jews? Or is that just a symptom? Like a cold that causes one to cough and sneeze? And does coughing and sneezing make YOU a cold? A cold is actually a form of Life. A bacteria or virus is a form of Life. It's just out of balance. It is expressing inappropriately. Does that make it evil?
Sickness and death have their roots in Sin. The curse of Sin. The curse of Sin that causes all of Creation to moan.
So when I get a stuffy nose, am I supposed to resist it and label it as a result of Sin?
I really am trying to go somewhere with all this, and Lord willing, we will get there within the next two or three hours.
But do we label colds and sickness and physical death and hunger and people who perform wicked deeds, do we label all these as Evil, and mentally resist them?
Well, consider that our mental resistance of what is, is what causes us to suffer. If someone is hungry and has no food to eat, they can either mentally resist that fact and build it into the big, horrible travasty in their mind; or they can fully accept it as what is, and inwardly smile at the eternal present moment. And, if they can take action right now, they will do so in the same inner atmosphere of complete and unreserved gratitude.
Of course if that same person gave into their mind's carnal desire to fight what is, they could start feeling very sorry for themselves, totally abandoned, totally without one ounce of love from man or from God, and could even drive themselves to suicide.
Same story. Very different results. And we would have to agree that the latter example is much closer to evil than the first. Labeling "what is" as evil, and mentally fighting against it, is actually in league with the nature of Evil; and we can know that because of its fruit.
On the other hand, fully accepting "what is," and knowing its perfection, and smiling at it, is in full agreement with the nature of Life; and we can know THAT because of ITS fruit, too.
Which is awefully similar to the fruit of the Life BEHIND that Life, or the Spirit of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Okay. So a few minutes ago, we read in Ephesians chapter six that we do have a wrestle, we do have a battle of sorts. And then it talks about the armor of God.
How do we become fit for battle? Certianly not by making an enemy out of Life, by resisting "what is." That's just the wrong enemy. And the truth is that we don't NEED any enemy at all. If so, we'd better insist that God never destroy Sin and Death, or we'll be in trouble.
Instead, Ephesians chapter six tells us that, to battle evil, we clothe ourselves with Life.
Let's read that together, and then we'll close.
Galatians 6:13-18 (NKJV)
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
So we start with:
Stand. This is a positive thing. We Live. We Stand.
Truth. We embrace the Truth of Life, which can also be called the Word of God, to which the Scriptures are meant to point us.
Righteousness. This is the opposite of Sin. Just as Life is the opposite of Evil and Death. This is basically being reconciled to and walking with God, and doing the Right Thing Right Now.
Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. The Good News of Peace with God. Peace that is native to Life unhindered by the stain of Sin.
Faith. This is something you cannot build with your earthly mind. It is a deeper, higher, eternal gift from God, from the Giver of Life. Once again, it is something positive and full of Joy.
Salvation. Once again, this is Life. It comes by the removal of the stain of Sin, and is walked within by walking in the Spirit, by walking in Life and the Life Breather.
Sword of the Spirit. This is the Word of God, which is the Life that is always being breathed from the mouth of God, and, once again, is that to which the Scriptures have been sent to piont us.
Praying Always. This is constant communion with God. And not just carnal thoughts aimed toward heaven; but, as Philippians 4:6 says, prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING. Thanksgiving is the opposite of grumbling and complaining. Thanksgiving is that gratitude that manifests and grows when you fully accept what is without making an enemy out of it.
So none of these things imply that we are supposed to be looking for a fight. That we are supposed to be labeling people or things as evil. That we are supposed to be looking for demons to cast out (if we need to do that, we won't have to look for it). That we are supposed to walk around hating the devil, or demons, or any other being who has sided with Evil.
And if we hate Evil, we do so by fully embracing Life, by being reconciled to the Life Giver by having the stain of Sin, the stain of Evil, removed from us.
Do you want to fight evil? You cannot begin that fight as long as you are separated from Life. The place to begin is to have the stain of Sin, the stain of Evil, removed from You. And that stain can be removed only by the blood of Jesus.
This is something God does. As we confess our sinfullness to Him, He applies the sinless blood of Jesus to our debt of sin. And we are reconciled to Him; our Life that we are is reconnected to the Life Giver, as we begin to intermingle with and become indistinguishable from Him.
And then, or I should say and NOW, we walk with Him. When we recognize a symptom that lets us know we're connecting with the nature of Sin, we recognize that we've allowed ourself to be drawn away by our earthly mind. And we return to the place of Presence, the place of Being, with God, with the Life Giver, in that time and place of Life, which is always here and is always now.
And while the details can remind us where we are, like the stars can give a mariner a reference by which he or she knows where they are on the seas, it is not the details or the dots in the sky, but the feeling of the moving waves and the breathing of the fresh sea air that ultimately matters.
It is not all your circumstances and all the details of your story that matter. Those things all come and go. Rather, it is your feasting in Life with the Life Breather that is your ever-present Peace, Joy, Love, and Life. And this place of eternal rest is also your place of battle, as the darkness is vanquished by simply shining the light of His Presence in Yours, and by taking whatever action that Presence takes through you.
Let's close today's service with a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. This altar is open, and you're invited to make your way to the front, or in whatever way, take a posture of surrender and intimacy with God.
Whenever you need to leave, you're free to do so. And if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way up the steps into the room to your left when you're done here, and we'll gather in there in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.
Come, and let us surrender to the Presence of God in His Perfect Life.
*** listen to the audio to hear the closing prayer ***