“Deranged.” This was our President’s description of the man who killed so many on Sunday in a Texas church. Was he mentally ill? It would sure seem to be true. But, what if he had just given himself to evil, over time becoming so consumed with self and rage that his mind became dark, his heart a sewer filled with murderous hatred? As facts begin to trickle out, we learn that Kelley has a long history of violence – charged with domestic abuse, shaking his baby until the boy was seriously hurt, and animal cruelty.
This was a ‘bad’ guy. In our time we struggle to say that, conditioned as we are to tolerance. Frequently, we excuse, rationalize, and refuse to deal with evil in a forthright manner until we are confronted with it in a monstrous way, then we are shocked and dismayed, even confused.
2 weeks when came to light that a powerful Hollywood mogul serially sexually abused women, he claimed that he needed time to deal with his issues, that he would go to a clinic for ‘counseling.’ Some quickly suggested that his behavior resulted from a ‘sex addiction.’ Counseling could help him to understand the evil he’s done. He may well have become addicted to his perversions as he indulged them for so long. But, baseline, what he did was an evil thing and people around him needed to say, “How you treat women is wrong. You hurt others for your own gratification. That is evil!” But, culturally we find it difficult to speak the truth about evil.
Admitting that evil is real is hard.
If people can do bad things, that means that I can do bad things. Who want to admit that? I would rather admit to ‘making mistakes,’ to having ‘poor judgment,’ to being ‘unbalanced’ than to tell myself that I have made choices that were wrong, sinful, offensive to God and humanity.
Here is the truth about human nature apart from God’s redemption – “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT) Nobody has to teach us to be selfish, to rebel, do they? We come by such behaviors naturally because we are born with a sinful nature.
We need structure, guidance, accountability, and discipline to restrain that innate evil. But, if we are unable or unwilling to admit to depravity, how will we deal with it? God does not excuse our sin as ‘just being human.’ He does not look the other way when we are willful, hateful, or rebellious. He judges and He corrects. Most wonderful of all, He saves and redeems!
My favorite book in the Bible offers this hope. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:1-2, NIV) “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:4-6, NIV)
It is not my intent to suggest that we start to engage in witch hunts, that we become harsh judges of everyone and everything. My appeal is for a renewed understanding of the work of the Devil and the reality of evil. With this realization, we will turn to the One who can save us from our sins. Only then will the amazing Truth of the Gospel of Christ become our lifeline as we give up on saving ourselves.
As you ponder this today, start with Jesus’ words that encourage introspection. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5, NLT)
Follow that with mediation on this passage. “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” (1 Peter 4:17-18, NLT)
Father, I come to You lifting up
Those who have suffered under the assault of evil.
Comfort them, heal them, give life.
I pray, Spirit of God, for understanding of my own heart.
Show me my hidden faults, my secret sins, and lead me to confession.
Jesus, save me and lead me to a whole and holy life,
That I may honor You, live for You, and
Share the Light that defeats the darkness of Evil. Amen