Tag Archives: evil

CIVIL WAR

CIVIL WAR

As it is, it is no longer I myself but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:17-20.

Spoken like a true Hebrew!

Every year, during Elul, the last month of the Hebrew calendar, prior to the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) which preceded the most holy day of the year, (Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), a trumpet was blown daily as a reminder to every Jew to prepare for Yom Kippur. This was the day when God judged and forgave all sin for another year.

Preparation consisted of three things, teshuvah, tephillah and tsidaqah – repentance, prayer and works of righteousness. However, repentance was not about turning away from sin but returning to the person God created them to be. Prayer was not about petitioning God but about turning towards Him and learning to think like He thinks. Works of righteousness were not about doing things for less fortunate people even though they were undeserving, but about being merciful and generous to others because God had shown mercy to them.

Paul recognised that sin was an invader, illegally occupying the person God had created him to be. This was not as God intended. He had been taken over from conception by a squatter who had no right to be there but whom he had no power to evict. He differentiated between his true self and the sin that ruled his life. He was not making excuses for his behaviour or trying to evade responsibility for his choices, but rather recognising that God was not responsible for what he was because sin was not in His blueprint for man.

God is good (functional) and everything He made, including man, was good (functional), working together in perfect harmony with God’s nature and with one another. The entire universe was created to be a unit. It would remain that way as long as human beings, who were to rule the earth, chose to live in harmony with God’s will.

When man rejected God’s way and set up his own rules, he and the whole universe became dysfunctional. He has repudiated God’s right to tell him how to live by giving his allegiance to a usurper, and paid the price God had warned him about – death. He was still man, made in God’s image with the potential to be one with God, but now his bent was towards rebellion. There was a foreigner in charge and he was obligated to obey Satan because he, man, had relinquished control.

Paul recognised that his sinful nature was dysfunctional, incapable of obeying God and doing the right thing. There was civil war in his inner being. He longed to be obedient to his Creator, but he had no power to change his nature which was under the influence of the enemy and driven by enmity towards God.

He was trapped in this inward conflict with no hope of ever getting out of it by his own efforts. The problem was that, legally, he in the dock, judged guilty, living in shame and fear and awaiting sentence on the Day of Judgment. By his own sinful life, he proved that he was in cahoots with the usurper and rightfully declared guilty.

What a terrible plight he was in. He knew he was condemned yet, at the same time, he yearned to be free to worship God and follow His ways. He was inside his prison cell peering wistfully through the bars at the beautiful world outside, with no way to get out and enjoy the freedom that should have been his.

What was he to do? He needed someone to step in and rescue him.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – TO DO GOOD OR TO DO EVIL

TO DO GOOD OR TO DO EVIL

1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Je,sus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Mark 3:1-6

“Happy are those who are persecuted for doing right…” The battle lines are drawn. This incident is loaded – with emotion; with anger, frustration and determination. Both camps were adamant that they were right in what they believed to be true and in what they did. Of course, only one side could be right but it depended on their understanding of righteousness.

The crowning proof that Jesus was right was the healing of the man – something supernatural that came through the power of God and to which the Pharisees had no answer. On a previous occasion, when they contested Jesus over His forgiving the paralysed man, He responded, “Which is easier, to forgive sin or to heal the man? Just to show you that I have the right and power to do both…” He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home,” which the man did!

The Pharisees could do nothing to prove that they were right because all they were doing for “righteousness” was nothing!

They killed Jesus because of envy – not so much wanting what He had; far from it. They hated Him for what He was and had murderous intent towards Him. Envy says, “I hate your goodness; I hate your generosity; I hate who you are and I will get rid of you for it.”

This is the nature of the war that rages between God and Satan and between the kingdom of light and the dominion of darkness. There is nothing kind or benevolent in Satan’s realm. It is malevolent, destructive and utterly selfish and bent on sucking as many people as possible into its doom. Jesus is light and represents light. His entire bent is towards “shalom” – promoting the wholeness and well-being of others. He did whatever He could and wherever He could to alleviate suffering and offer the opportunity of life – righteousness, peace, joy and power in the Holy Spirit.

The Dilemma Deepens

THE DILEMMA DEEPENS

Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too holy to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Hab. 1: 12-13).

So, Habakkuk, you got your answer. God is going to sort out the mess in your country by sending the Babylonians against your people. They won’t stand a chance against the Babylonian army. They will be slaughtered or enslaved, and then where will their precious idols be that they so loved to worship? Where will the rulers be who loved to lord it over and oppress the people? What about the apostate priests and false prophets who lead the people astray?

Habakkuk was appalled! “God, is it possible that you who are eternal and indestructible because you have nothing to do with evil, will do a thing like this? How can you raise up a godless nation to correct your own people? How can you use these people against your covenant nation?” The Israelites, in spite of Habakkuk’s complaint against them, looked like saints compared with the Babylonians. If he thought his people were bad, what about these vicious killers?

If the prophet’s first dilemma was puzzling to him, God’s answer was even more difficult to understand. Instead of giving him something to hold on to, God had deepened his confusion. From his perspective, what God said He was doing was not solving the problem at all. He was only making it worse. Many of his people were already suffering cruelty and injustice at the hands of their rulers. Now the Babylonians were coming to wipe them out. What sort of a solution was that?

Let’s put their situation into a modern-day context. Who are God’s people? Two categories: Firstly, God’s ancient people, Israel, are still His covenant people. In spite of their rejection of His Messiah, God has never disowned or abandoned them. And in spite of the teaching of some that God has finished with His people, that is not what the Bible says. So why have they suffered so badly since the time of Jesus?

Secondly, the church belongs to God. It is the body of Jesus of which He is the head. He loves His church and is passionate about her because she is His betrothed bride and His representative on earth until He comes. He has entrusted His Spirit to His church to lead her into all truth and to empower her to represent Him and do His works on earth. It is imperative that the church remain pure so that He can reveal Himself to the unbelieving world through her. Why is the church in many parts of the world suffering at the hands of cruel and ruthless killers?

When His people veer off course, God does not force them back to His way. He has to corral them by hedging up their way so that they return to His word and follow His leading because He is the only way to eternal life. Every other path leads to destruction.

So what does He do? He allows and orchestrates circumstances that are painful and difficult enough to draw us back to Him. Isn’t it true that people often treat God like a celestial 911? They can do without Him until crises come and emergencies arise. Then they begin to shout and scream for His help. Is that the kind of father He wants to be to us?

When we look at the global church today, in many ways it is no better than God’s people were in Habakkuk’s day. Power struggles go on in the individual congregations; money and wealth preoccupy the teaching of many; the church is continually being fragmented because people cannot get on with each other or they are divided by their pet doctrines; church leaders fall into sin and live no better lives than the people in the world; many of the churches are no more than business enterprises or social clubs.

What is God going to do about it? He is raising up the “Babylonians.” What kind of an answer is that? Suffering divides the men from the boys. It either turns people into apostates or sons. People either turn against God when they suffer or they learn obedience as Jesus did.

Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (Heb. 5: 8).

God is smart. He knows that suffering forces us to choose what we value most and hold on to it. More of that tomorrow . . .

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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