How Did Evil Enter Human Behavior?

How Did Evil Enter Human Behavior?

Yesterday, we discussed the reality of evil. We saw that Christianity presents the God of the Bible as a God of love, but to have love, we must have a choice. That choice means there will be those who choose to reject God and the “agape” love Jesus presented. The question then becomes, “How did evil enter human behavior?”

The Old Testament has a few references to Satan, and that word in Hebrew means an opposing spirit, accuser, or hater. In the New Testament, the Greek word “diabolus” is used many times and translated as “Devil.” Skeptics usually convey the idea that Satan or the Devil is a physical being, making the concept of a personal promoter of evil look foolish. The biblical concept of Satan is that he is a spiritual being. He is not physical and exists in a dimension beyond the three dimensions we humans know.

The answer to “how did evil enter human behavior” is made clear in Ephesians 6:12. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” You and I would be helpless in this situation if not for the fact that God steps in and limits what those evil spiritual forces can do. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There is no temptation that has taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that which you can endure, but with the temptation also will make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”

The question, “How did evil enter human behavior?” takes us back to the question of good and evil and why we exist. Ephesians 3:9-11 makes it clear that through Christ, the intent was “that unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God.” The spiritual war going on is undeniable as we see the existence of spiritual evil all around us. The Church is called to demonstrate the triumph of good over evil.

By denying that we are a part of this war between good and evil, atheists automatically embrace evil. In rejecting this reality, they eliminate their purpose for existing, and they have nothing to replace it. Jesus stated this in John 8:42-47 as He answered the skeptics of His day. Satan is real and alive and well on planet Earth today. This is not a fairy tale or a myth. It is the reality that we can see all around us.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

The Question of Good and Evil

The Devil and The Question of Good and Evil

When you hear people talk about Satan, do you visualize a little man with horns wearing a red suit and holding a pitchfork? In our modern world, many people dismiss the idea of Satan as a long-discarded relic of ancient myths. The movie industry creatively portrays him as a human in a business suit in “Damn Yankees” or a monster in Halloween horror films. In considering the reality of Satan, we must examine the question of good and evil.

Some atheists maintain that there is no such thing as evil. Perhaps the leading spokesman for atheism in today’s world is Richard Dawkins. He wrote,” The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (River Out of Eden, page 133). If you believe that the physical world is all there is, then no behavior is right or wrong. Therefore, sin doesn’t exist, and there is no act a human can do that can be logically called evil. Dawkins admits this by continuing with, “DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.” 

Those who have worked in prisons or served in the military (and your author has done both) find this position unacceptable. It is naive to say that war, abuse, rape, pedophile behavior, murder, or racism are not evil. Dawkin’s position makes any meaningful standard of morality useless. Nothing can be immoral or evil if evil doesn’t exist. It is difficult for me to believe that an honest, thinking person would attempt to deny that there is such a thing as evil. 

The question of good and evil then becomes, “How are good and evil brought into the world?” Evil is not a physical thing like a rock. Evil is a choice of a sentient being. Some people say that God created evil, but that is an ignorant position. James 1:13 tells us God cannot tolerate evil in any form (no temptation). God is love—it’s His very nature. Jesus brought the concept of agape love that sees something infinitely precious as its object. If you don’t comprehend that, you will never understand much of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 – 7.

The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word for evil means to spoil, break into pieces, or make worthless. The Greek word for evil in the New Testament means to have a hurtful effect or influence. If God exists and is good and love, it is logical that there would be the absence of good and love. It is not reasonable to deny that hate and evil exist. The question of good and evil that remains is how evil came into the world. If God brings us love and good, how do hate and evil come to us? Tomorrow we will explore that question. 

— John N. Clayton © 2022

How Satan Works

How Satan Works
Yesterday we examined the question of whether Satan is real. We reviewed what the Bible has to say and concluded that Satan is real and at work in our world. Today we are going to examine how Satan works and how we can recognize what is from Satan and not from God.

1-SATAN WORKS BY BRUTE FORCE. In the Genesis account, God tells us how the battle between good and evil will progress. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. It will bruise your head, and you will bruise His heel.” The blow to Satan will ultimately be fatal–evil will die. The damage to the heel will be bad in this life, but not eternally.

The Bible is full of descriptions of Satan’s brute force–the repeated captivity of Israel, the slaying of the babies by Herod, the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. Satan frequently enters his workers to make brute force happen. In John 13:27, Satan entered Judas. In Matthew 16:23, he attempted to enter Peter, but Jesus rebuked him. In our world today, he enters people, especially when invited or not resisted. Every day we see examples of this on the front page of our newspaper.

2-SATAN WORKS BY SOWING BAD SEEDS. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told a parable to explain a second way how Satan works. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between a tare seed and a wheat seed. Satan sows seeds that are not always obvious at the time. It is not always obvious who is sowing the bad seed, as verse 25 says the sower of the bad seed comes at night.

3-SATAN WORKS BY IMITATING GOD’S GOOD THINGS. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, we read, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And don’t be surprised, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” In the parable, the tares were not removed until the harvest because it would do too much damage to the wheat to rip them out. So also, evil will not be removed from our lives until the harvest when the fruit of our lives can be seen. God allows perverse forms of marriage and sex to continue to exist, but in the end, the results of these perverse things will be clear.

Once we understand how Satan works, we can know what comes from Satan and not from God. Mathew 7:15-20 tells us to “watch out for false prophets who will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them … every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit … thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” The next three verses have these evil workers claiming miracles in the name of Christ. People can claim anything, but Jesus says, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” We find Paul reaffirming that in 2 Corinthians 11:15.

Jeremiah 23 gives five tests we can all make of religious leaders to see if they are good leaders or false prophets.
1-Vs 9-14 Do they have high moral standards?
2-Vs 16-17 Do they offer false hope?
3-Vs 21-22 Do they have integrity and oppose evil?
4-Vs 29-32 Do they speak where God has not spoken?
5-Vs 33-36 Do they state their opinions as God’s Word?

There are plenty of cheap imitations of the Lord’s Church out there, as you can see by turning on your TV. The religious teachers that fail the tests Jeremiah laid out are Satan’s workers, and they are all around us. That is how Satan works.

There will be a final answer to Satan. In the bad seed parable of Matthew 13, the master says, “Let them both grow together until the harvest time and at harvest time I will tell the reapers ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” It isn’t up to us to make the final judgment because the long-term result of Satan’s activity will make it clear. In Revelation 20, an angel binds Satan and casts him into the fire. The dead, both small and great, will be judged according to their works.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Opposing Spirit Adversary: Satan

Opposing Spirit Adversary: Satan
When you think of Satan, what do you visualize? Do you see an image of a sinister, demonic-looking man with horns and a tail? Do you see a cartoon guy in a red suit with a pitchfork? The Bible refers to Satan by name more than 50 times and uses other descriptions such as “the enemy” or “the prince of this world,” or “the devil.” Is this opposing spirit adversary Satan real or an ancient construction of superstitious people?

The Old Testament Hebrew word and the New Testament Greek word translated “satan” literally mean “accuser,” “adversary,” or “opposing spirit.” In 1 Chronicles 21:1, Zechariah 3:1-2 and Job chapters 1 and 2 present Satan as appearing before God along with the angels as an accuser. The New Testament tells us that Satan entered into Judas as he betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:3). Christ even called Peter “Satan” when he opposed God’s plan (Luke 8:33). The Bible does not portray Satan as taking on a human form in the physical realm, but it does show the opposing spirit assuming a symbolic form as a serpent creature (Genesis 3:1). So we have an opposing spirit adversary in the spiritual realm.

There are two realms of existence–the physical and the spiritual. The physical realm that you and I live in is time-dependent. Our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing enable us to comprehend the physical. The spiritual existence is time-independent, and we perceive that realm in other ways, but not through our senses.

The Bible tells us that beings exist in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 3:8-10 describes this for us: “God gave me the work of telling all people about the plan for his secret truth that has been hidden in Him since the beginning of time. He is the one who created everything, His purpose was that all the rulers and powers in heavenly places will now know many different ways He shows His wisdom. They will know this because of the Church.”

Ephesians 6:11-12 repeats this reference to the spiritual realm. “Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks. Our fight is not against people on Earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.”

As science probes more deeply into the origin of mass and electric charge, something becomes increasingly apparent. The physical realm’s source is from a dimension higher than the three-dimensional world we experience. String theory, for example, proposes 11 spatial dimensions in its mathematical analysis. We directly sense only three dimensions plus time, but the spiritual realm exists outside of the spatial dimensions that make up the physical world.

Most people don’t believe that when we die there is no further existence of any kind. We sense that there is something more. Revelation 21:3-5 tells us that when our physical life ends, we will be in a time-independent realm. For those who are in Christ “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain so the old order of things is passed away.”

According to Revelation 20:10 the opposing spirit will be done away., but it is very active in today’s world. We will continue with more on that tomorrow.

In the spiritual world, there is an opposing spirit adversary, Satan who is very active in our physical world today. Tomorrow we will look at the ways Satan works.
–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2018