It is difficult to enter into a conversation these days without it drifting into a discussion about the evils in today’s world. There’s the evil banking system, evil governments and politicians, evil nations, evil religions, evil corporations, evil criminals, and the list goes on. As the conversation turns into a complaining session about how evil a certain group of people can behave, it typically ends there with little or no answer to the underlying reasons that cause people to behave in this way. We usually end the conversation by saying something like, “Oh well, I guess this is the world we live in and there’s not much we can do but make the best of it.”
I was recently sent an email with a link to an article about evil predator sociopaths that “walk among us”, maneuver themselves into a position of power, and then prey on our weaknesses with no feelings of remorse or “conscience” that gives them regret: they are void of emotional signals that would counteract their evil actions. (link to article: http://www.caseyresearch.com/freeman/they-walk-among-us) In this article, the author suggests that one out of every fifty people is one of these sociopathic predators. The author also suggests that the cause of this behavior is due to some problem in the brain, so the person is born with the condition, and that the condition will be cured in the future with genetic engineering. Oh, and if we could all have the ability to detect these predator sociopaths and not allow them to get into a position of power, then the world would be a much better place. Hmmm. It seemed a bit farfetched to me. So what is the truth? Why are some people evil? Are people really born this way?
As a Christian, my source of truth is God’s revelation: the Holy Scriptures, aka the Bible. I do believe that some “evil” behavior is passed on from one generation to another, and that a person’s early childhood can have a drastic effect on their behavior patterns causing sociopathic behavior in some. But there are deeper reasons that the Scriptures reveal. As I see it, God’s Word gives three main reasons for people being evil:
1. The world has been cursed due to the sin of our first parents and is under the influence of Satan, who is the source of all that is evil.
2. People who function apart from God-centered faith have placed humans as the highest life form and the source of truth which ultimately leads to a self-centered existence that promotes evil behavior.
3. God has rejected some men who have consistently chosen evil and He has given them over to a reprobate, evil mind.
Let’s take a closer look at the first of these three, which I think is probably the least discussed and the least understood. We can discuss the other two in a later blog.
The Curse and Satan’s Influence
The apostle John, who walked with Jesus, concludes his letter to the Christian churches, recorded in 1 John 5: 18-21 as follows:
“We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps (guards) himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God and the whole world lies under the sway (influence) of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little Children, keep yourselves from idols (any substitute for God). Amen.”
Jesus came to undo the curse. The “Good News” is that Jesus has delivered us from the curse so that we are no longer under the influence of the wicked one, Satan. The rest of the world, those who have not put their faith in Jesus, are still under the influence of Satan.
God did not initially intend for Satan to have the power over His creation that he currently has. Somehow, after Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, disobeying God’s directive to not eat of that tree, Satan was then given a means of influence where he is able to sway our thinking and the resultant behavior towards evil. No human truly understands the workings of the spiritual realm, but it is obvious that demons, who are a part of Satan’s wicked army, can influence, or even possess, God’s creatures.
We like to see good in people. We like to block out of our minds the reality of the spiritual world and the influence of the devil. Jesus was directly tempted by the devil. It seems that the devil has the ability to interject thoughts into our mind, and the more we have accepted his interjections, the more he is able to influence. It’s not clear to me exactly how this works, but I am convinced that humans are directly influenced in their minds by demonic powers and that they for the most part are not aware that it is happening. I don’t think that the answer is to learn exactly how this works and attempt to counteract the influence in our own strength, or by our own carnal intellectual devices. No, the answer is to allow the influence of the Holy Spirit and of our faith to have a positive result in our thoughts. Our faith and the Holy Spirit gives us the armor we need to combat the evil influence of the devil:
”For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with the truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness. And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….” Ephesians 6:12-18
Notice the mention of “fiery darts” coming from the “wicked one”. These are the thoughts that are interjected and need to be quenched by the “shield of faith”. So without faith, and without the armor of the spirit, the fiery darts penetrate and do damage. They influence the minds of the people in this world to do evil, or to feed their flesh, or to cause conflicts, envy, jealousy, strife, etc., varying in degree based on the people and situation, or how much they have already yielded to evil.
Remember too that we were also once under this influence and are still vulnerable if we don’t use the armor ourselves:
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2: 1-3
So, for most of the people pointing a finger at the wickedness in the world, they should be looking in the mirror. And we too need to make sure that we have looked into the mirror and not forgotten what we have seen, making the corrections necessary to keep us from the influence of evil in our behavior.
The part that jumps out at me is the necessity of prayer to battle in the spirit. I understand the need for faith, and the need for knowing the Scriptures and to stand on the promises and truths of God’s Word, but it is often hard for me to see the value of my prayers, to see the impact that happens in the spiritual world, affecting principalities and powers in heavenly places, and turning back the forces of evil in my life and in the lives of my loved ones. I need to get a better vision of this and step up my prayer life.
In summary, there is a spiritual battle going on. Satan, the wicked one and enemy of God, has somehow gained a position of power in our physical world. Although Jesus has defeated him, he still can influence us in our thoughts, which can result in evil behavior. Jesus has also given us a means of having victory over Satan by placing our faith and trust in Him and using our faith and the Holy Spirit to counteract the influence of Satan and his demons. Prayer is also a powerful defense to the spiritual onslaught of demonic forces.
I’ll say it again that the Gospel or “Good News” is that Jesus, the Christ or Messiah, has made a way for us to be removed from the curse, including the influence of Satan in our lives. He paid the price for our redemption from satanic ownership and we have now been legally purchased by His blood. Our faith in His redemption is accounted to us as righteousness, meaning that our sins are forgiven and we can now enter into an intimate relationship with God, allowing the Holy Spirit to communicate directly with us. The ultimate victory is that we have been spared the second death that was part of the curse and now have eternal life in Jesus as a true son of the living God. We will be resurrected in the same way that Jesus was and will be given a new immortal body that will last throughout eternity. We can now rejoice in these truths and can find strength to get us through any trials or difficulties in this life.
Thank God for His amazing mercy that has given us victory over this evil!
P.S. Be sure to read “Why are Some People Evil – Part 2”