Part 2

Genesis 1 declares God acted. God brought this world and life into existence. In a more detailed account, Genesis 2 gives some of the details about God's action in crowning His creation with man and woman. The Bible literally opens with God acting.

In Genesis 3 evil reacts to God's action. God brings human life into existence. Evil deceives human life. When God brought human life into existence, nothing stood between God and the human life forms He created. When God looked at His completed creation, He could say, "It is very good!" (Genesis 1: 31) When evil deceived Eve and Adam followed her into deception, a humanly irreparable separation immediately occurred between God and the humanity He made in His own image. As evil continued to deceive people, the chasm between God and humanity increased. Finally, God looked at the people originally made in his own image and regretted that He made humanity (Genesis 6:5,6). God went from saying His completed creation was very good to regret in only 6 chapters!

This war between good (that comes from God--James 1:17) and evil (that comes from the devil [Satan], the great deceiver--John 8:44) repeatedly is emphasized in scripture. For example, God through Moses acted in seeking to produce the nation of Israel in the exodus (Exodus 3:16-22). Evil through Pharaoh reacted against God's purposes (Exodus 5-11). God acted in giving the new nation of Israel the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Evil reacted against God by having the golden calf made as an idol (Exodus 32:1-8). God acted in bring the adults delivered from Egypt to the borders of Canaan (Numbers 13:1-20). Evil reacted against God in the report of the ten Israelite spies who discouraged the Israelites (Numbers 13:21-33). When Israel was established in Canaan, God acted in trying to build a relationship of remembrance with Israel (the book of Judges). Evil acted against God by turning the hearts of the Israelites to a family of gods known as the Baal worship (the book of Judges). Much later, God acted by sending Jesus (John 3:16,17). Evil reacted against God by deceiving God's people and having them reject Jesus (John 6, 8). God acted through Jesus' teachings and miracles. Evil reacted against God with the crucifixion (Matthew 27). God acted through Jesus' resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10). Evil reacted against God by declaring the resurrection either did not occur (Acts 17:32), or by deceiving early Christians about the meaning of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).

The world has changed, but the war between good and evil continues. This war is occurring in our lives this very moment. Seeing the world as God sees it means we must learn to discern between good and evil. The only way to avoid Satan's deception is to allow God to help us discern between good and evil. If we are going to see the world as God sees it, we must see the war. We must understand how easy it is to be deceived in our own lives.

To see the world as God sees it, we must accept two basic realities.

  1. Reality one: no one can live in this physical existence and not be touched by the war between good and evil.
    1. For a long time we Americans lived in the conviction that wars could not touch us.
      1. "Wars are something that are fought somewhere else, not here in our country."
      2. Then 9/11 happened, and we were forced to realize that wars can be fought here, also.
      3. With the realizations of 9/11, we were introduced to a new kind of fear--the fear of being the battleground.
      4. While we do not want to be the battleground, we now understand that much more is involved than what we want.
    2. No matter how devoted to good we think we are as a person or as a group, if we live in this world our lives will be touched (changed!) by the war between good and evil.
      1. Even if it were possible to do no evil, a person who never did evil would still suffer as a result of the war raging between good and evil.
      2. We must not be deceived into thinking that the key to avoiding the war is embracing good--if you live in the world, the war between good and evil will involve your life in direct ways.
      3. Only one person [Jesus] lived in this world and did no evil.
        1. That truth figures prominently in the message of the book of Hebrews.
          Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
          Hebrews 7:26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens ...
          Hebrews 5:7-9 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation
        2. Though Jesus was without sin--committed no form of evil--he still was touched by the war between evil and good.
          1. Though he did not sin, he still dealt with temptation (see Matthew 4:1-11).
          2. Though he did not sin, he could be discouraged by those who did not understand (see Matthew 16:23).
          3. Though he did not sin, he still experienced physical need (see John 4:1-7).
          4. Though he did not sin, he could experience loneliness and weakness (see Matthew 26:36-46).
          5. Though he did not sin, he experienced surrender, pain, and death (the crucifixion of Jesus).
        3. In a true sense, we could say that Jesus was the ultimate casualty in the war between good and evil!
      4. Never be deceived into thinking or believing that if you were "just good enough" your life would not be victimized by the war between good and evil!

  2. Reality two: our lives are touched by the war between good and evil in many ways.
    1. Everyone of us suffers the consequences of this war in many ways.
      1. We can be touched by evil as the consequence of someone we do not even know who is involved in evil.
        1. There are many ways to illustrate this truth; it is a common reality in this physical world.
        2. Consider this illustration: you have a 17 year old child you are close to and who is an all around good child.
          1. In a nearby city there is a drug dealer you do not know and have never heard of.
          2. A teen you have never met, never heard of, decides he wants to try some meth for the first time.
          3. He makes the purchase from the drug dealer, takes the meth, gets high, and starts driving.
          4. Eventually he drives to the Fort Smith area.
          5. Your 17 year old is driving somewhere.
          6. The teen high on meth hits your child's car and kills your child.
          7. In no way are you involved in the evil that transpired, but you suffer greatly because of that evil.
      2. We can be touched by an evil that exists in our lives that we have not as yet identified.
        1. Let me call to your attention a statement found in 1 John 1:5-10.
        2. The particular statement is found in verse 9:
          1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
          1. I understand this to be written to Christians--John includes himself in the "we" of verse five, and chapter 2 makes it evident he is writing to "my little children."
          2. The whole section (1:5-10) is powerfully encouraging because it declares Christians will make mistakes and perfection is not a condition of forgiveness. There is a workable, livable solution for our mistakes and imperfections!
          3. Stated simply, if we will confess to God things we know that are wrong as we realized those wrong things, God will not only forgive the things we confess, but will forgive us of everything--all unrighteousness.
          4. If we will accept responsibility for our mistakes, God will even forgive us of things we do not yet understand to be wrong--even though those things are evil!
        3. Everyone of us has evil in us that we have not yet recognized--we do not even realize that the evil is evil.
          1. Because the evil is forgiven does not mean the consequences which result from the evil are eliminated!
          2. Sometimes we endure the consequences of forgiven evil!
        4. Again, that is easily illustrated.
          1. A person sees no evil in living with someone.
          2. As a result of living with someone, a pregnancy occurs.
          3. Because the level of commitment is often low in live-in arrangements, the father-to-be leaves when he hears about the pregnancy.
          4. After the fact, the mother-to-be learns living together is evil, does what scripture says to do to repent, and is serious in her faith.
          5. Is she forgiven? Yes!
          6. Does the pregnancy vanish with the forgiveness? No!
      3. We can be touched with the consequences or evil by yielding to a temptation that we know is evil before involvement ever occurred.
        1. We do something wrong for whatever reason.
          1. We knew it was wrong before we were tempted, when we were tempted, and after we sinned.
          2. But for whatever the powerful motivations were, we knowingly did wrong.
          3. No matter how we react to what we did, we will still endure the consequences of the evil we committed.
        2. This, too, is easy to illustrate.
          1. If anyone of the church leaders in this congregation committed adultery in a moment of temptation, we would have serious consequences to endure.
          2. Did the person know adultery was wrong before the temptation? Yes!
          3. Did the person know adultery was wrong during the adulterous act? The person may have refused to think about it, but, yes, that was known.
          4. Did the person know adultery was wrong after the adultery? Yes--we usually refer to that as "guilt."
        3. Will the person pay consequences? Absolutely!
          1. Relationships with the congregation will be damaged.
          2. Their marriage will be damaged.
          3. Positions will be ended.
          4. The person's life will be affected.
          5. Even if forgiveness occurs, there will be unavoidable consequences.

The understanding that the war between good and evil is real has direct impact on the meaning of the gospel (good news). The good news IS NOT "if you devote your life to good you will never suffer because evil exists." That is a great deception from evil that will destroy your faith the first time you endure serious suffering because of something evil!

The good news (gospel) is this: the suffering caused by evil in this physical world can not take you away from God! Evil in this world can hurt you, but it cannot destroy you!

Romans 8:38,39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 17 October 2004

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