Too often I get that "overwhelmed" feeling. I am certain you do, too. I feel it. I see others as they feel it. I watch our society glorify the choices and the forms of indulgence that guarantee the disasters of crumbling lives and empty existences. I see our world shutter as the majority is forced to drink the bitterness of hate and greed. Whether seen in persons, families, society, or the world, the effect is the same: we helplessly reel under the onslaught of so many forms of evil. We are overwhelmed!

Evil thoughts, deeds, and values are not without consequence. Even when we repent, we cannot and do not escape the consequences of evil. Without fail, God forgives us if we repent. Yet, even with God's forgiveness, the consequences of poor decisions, poorly used lives, or past ungodly character are not escaped.

Perhaps the tragedy created by evil results from plain, simple ignorance. How often we say or think, "I had no idea this would happen!" Or, "When I made that decision I was not bargaining for this!" Or, "I never thought that would lead me to this place (situation, condition, struggle, conflict)." Or, "I just wanted to have a good time." Or, "I was looking for fun--not making a forever decision!"

Temptation lies to us. It depends on deceit to make its lies effective. The devil does not possess the enormous, overwhelming power that forces us humans to fall to the father of lies. Satan deceived Eve. Satan deceived those responsible for Jesus' death. Satan deceives those who conclude "here and now" is all there is. Satan deceives us when he leads us to believe, if we can classify something as "desirable," it has no consequences. We are so foolish that we fail to grasp a truth: temptation's deception is effective because it gets us to work against ourselves! We are betrayed by our own desires!

Nothing has changed. People's evil desires betray them in every age. It is not the "evil out there" that is our greatest threat. It is the evil inside us that is our greatest threat. Hundreds of years ago Isaiah tried to awaken the deceived with this truth in Isaiah 5:20,21: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!"

The bottom line, "big cost item" in life has not changed in any generation. The question confronting each person always has been the same. All "glitter" and "advancements" aside, the fundamental question is (and always has been!) simply this: Who or what do we allow decide who we are? Or who do we allow to shape our values, determine our priorities, decide what is "good for us," form our character, and guide our integrity? What forces in your life do you allow to make you you?

Ephesians 4:23,24 "... be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 17 August 2003

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