Unaware of evil

Christmas is a time of year I really enjoy. It is firstly a celebration of the incarnate God – that is God revealed as a man. I love the celebration meal that overflows into the next few days, I love that the world stops for a bit and we can enjoy the festivities with family.

It is the focal point of Christmas that I want to focus on – the revelation of ‘The Word made flesh” (Jn 1:1), the light that has come into the world who brings great joy, but before that celebration can truly be appreciated we need to know/remember why Jesus came, why He ‘dwelt among us’ and why He brings great joy.

Along with recent prayer and meditation, my discussions and encounters with people have raised this thought: “Unaware of Evil”[1]! Looking at contemporary Christian leaders comments to political and social issues leads me to the conclusion that “unaware of evil” seems to be the spiritual condition of many today.

To truly appreciate the incarnation – or more correctly, only through the knowledge of God incarnate – can we be truly aware of evil. By evil I am not referring to disasters or sinful deeds but to the evil behind actions and events that may even seem to be good.

1 John 3:8 (ESV) … The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Unaware of Evil

The serpent that appeared to Eve (Gen 3) was later to be revealed as Satan (Rev 12:9), yet Eve seemed to be unaware of the presence of evil. And this lack of discernment proved very costly: “the wreckage of earth and a million billion graves [which] attest that God is true and Satan is the liar.”

MacDonald outlines the encounter succinctly in the Bible Believers commentary:

Notice the steps that plunged the human race into sin. First Satan insinuated doubt about the Word of God: “Has God indeed said?” He misrepresented God as forbidding Adam and Eve to eat of every tree. Next, Eve said that they were not to eat or “touch the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden.” But God had said nothing about touching the tree. Then Satan flatly contradicted God about the inevitability of judgment on those who disobeyed, just as his followers still deny the facts of hell and eternal punishment. Satan misrepresented God as seeking to withhold from Adam and Eve something that would have been beneficial to them. Eve yielded to the threefold temptation: the lust of the flesh (good for food), the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), and the pride of life (a tree desirable to make one wise). In doing so, she acted independently of Adam, her head. She should have consulted him instead of usurping his authority. In the words “she took of its fruit and ate” lie the explanation of all the sickness, sorrow, suffering, fear, guilt, and death that have plagued the human race ever since that time. Someone has said, “The wreckage of earth and a million billion graves attest that God is true and Satan is the liar.” Eve was deceived (1 Tim. 2:14), but Adam acted willfully and in deliberate rebellion against God.

Secular humanism perpetuates Satan’s lie, “You will be like God.”[2]

Whatever was written about Eve or about the OT saints was “written down for our instruction” (Rom 15:4; 1Co 10:11). We could excuse Eve for not really being ‘aware’ or Adam of being ‘naïve’ but that is indicative of humanity’s fallen nature – our attempt at being God; thinking we know and understand good and evil (Rom 1:18-32). Both Adam and Eve tried to excuse their action, yet God would have none of it, both were guilty of sin – one through deception, the other through a deliberate act.

John reminds us that we have received The Word. This Word was the light of the world. Word and Light both speak of revelation, of instruction. As Romans 2:1 says “…you have no excuse, O man…” We have received Word and Light so that we do not have to be “unaware of evil”.

Be Aware…

1 Peter warns that Satan’s purpose concerning God’s people is to ‘devour’ them (5:8). This simply means to destroy, as Jesus pointed out: Satan seeks to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). So we are called to prepare our minds for action (1Pt 1:13), to be soberminded (1Pt 1:13; 5:8) and watchful (5:8).

The gospel – Greek: εὐαγγέλιον, which means good news – is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16; 1Cor 1:18) and reveals firstly, God’s wrath against sin; secondly, His way of escape; and thirdly, the way of living.

The example of Eve reveals that:

  1. God’s Word was available (Gen 2:16-17)

Eve was aware of what God had said, yet she enhanced or embellished that word” (Gen 3:2)

We also have that Word:

1 John 2:21 (ESV) I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

  1. The vehicle through which that Word came was God-given ‘family’ (Gen 2:21-25)
    1. Eve was ‘fellowshipping with strangers’ rather than with her family.
    2. Eve was engaging in matters of life and godliness with a stranger.
    3. Eve received and believed the philosophy

We also have a family in which the Word resides:

Psalm 68:6 (NIV84) God sets the lonely in families,

1 Peter 2:10 (ESV) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

And we are warned about the company we keep:

1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

2 Timothy 3:1–5 (ESV) But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

And the words we hear and believe:

1 Timothy 4:1 (ESV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

As MacDonald pointed out above, “Secular humanism perpetuates Satan’s lie, “You will be like God”.” In Scripture, we are warned that Satan appears as an ‘angel of light’ and as the ‘deceiver’ seeking to devour those who will not discern what is evil (2Co 11:14; Rev 12:9; 1Pt 5:8). There is an environment we are called into that offers life. The family of God exists in a fallen world, it is filled with a people trying to grasp and live in the revelation of the Gospel of the Kingdom and as such it is not a perfect community. It is a community of grace.

I can imagine Satan luring Eve away from Adam so they could speak. Perhaps suggesting Adam was not ‘spiritually’ up to the depth of ‘their’ discussions. Or that he just wants to control her?

The deceiver begins by isolating individuals from those given by God. He then questions the Word that is alive within that community suggesting a ‘private interpretation’[3]. He then proposes an alternate future and calls for action to gain it.

Discerning the Table of Demons

1 Corinthians 10:21 (ESV) 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

We need to be aware that the world around us is controlled by Satan, and answers to His will. Where do ‘doctrines of demons’ come from? What is the ‘table of demons’? Is our culture safe? Is it Christian? Is it amoral? Or is every world culture a ‘table of demons’ proposing fine sounding arguments that deceive some and produce blatant rebellion in others?

Hebrews 5:14 (ESV) But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Conclusion

2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

The Word of Faith is not a secret word given by an elite initiate, who must be obeyed at all times. Rather, it is passed on by faithful men (2Tim 2:2) watchmen of the Word, who, though very human, are passionate concerning that word. It is revealed in the midst of the congregation, and it is within the community of faith that the Word of truth is ‘fleshed out’ and shines forth God’s glory.

2 Peter 1:16–21 (ESV) For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The marketplace is not a place of security, of friendship, of trustworthy words but a place of witness, a place to shine the light in the midst of darkness.

2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (ESV) Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they shall be my people.

17          Therefore go out from their midst,

and be separate from them, says the Lord,

and touch no unclean thing;

then I will welcome you,

18          and I will be a father to you,

and you shall be sons and daughters to me,

            says the Lord Almighty.”

[1] I recently read a comment on the US election outcome by a minister in Australia that was amazing for its lack of secular reasoning and politicised Scripture twisting. It was a very Kingdom focussed response – something rare in modern ‘Christianity’. Contemporary ministers and Christians tend to speak whatever the mainline media says – especially concerning the recent Brexit and US election. Like the media and polling organisations, contemporary Christianity can be unaware of the pulse of society.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 35–36). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] 2 Peter 1:20 (ESV) knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.

Leave a Reply