Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Nature of Evil

Everyone knows that evil is bad, but what exactly is evil? I’ve been reading the Bible for many years and the answer to the question of what is evil has, until just the other day, eluded me. It is important in my mind to understand things. I live to understand.

1 Corinthians 12:12–13
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (NIV84)

In the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, Paul is talking about the fact that the members of the Church are each small part of the whole body of Christ. From reading this we can understand that we are in the body of Christ, that is, in God, and that God is in us. Every person that belongs to God exists inside of God, as it were. Every person that does not belong to God does not exist inside of God. I am talking about the children of God and the children of the Devil here; life and death.

1 Corinthians 12:14–20
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (NIV84)

If a person is in Christ then that person is a part of Christ’s body, actually and truly. It is impossible to belong to God and not be in him and him in you.

1 Corinthians 12:21–26
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (NIV84)

Each part of Christ’s body works in harmony with each and every other part. No part is more, or less, important than any other part. Each part is a part and makes up the whole of Christ’s body. If you are in Christ, that is, you are found to be alive in God, then you are in fact a part of his body.

1 Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV84)

Paul’s analogy here is very good, but man has since learned much more about the human body than what was known in biblical times. We now understand that the body is made up of billions, if not trillions, of individual living parts called cells. Each and every cell in the body is alive. Within the body are many kinds of cells. There are muscle cells, bone growing cells, cells that make up the parts of the eyes, ears, skin and many many more. No single cell has any value apart from its place in the body. What I mean is that if you were to remove any cell from the body it would die. Each cell in the body needs the other cells to remain alive.
Everyone wants to feel that they are unique and important. Everyone wants to feel that they can make a difference, that their life has meaning and purpose. But the truth of the matter is that no single cell in the body is important, apart from the whole body. Paul talks about the eye and its importance, but what is an eye but many millions of cells working together that collect information that is then transmitted by other cells to the brain which must be decoded by yet other cells in the brain and ultimately must be interpreted by the Spirit within the body to have any value. The Spirit of the body of Christ is God, so ultimately no cell has any importance apart from God. The body is God’s body after all. Each cell is to do what God has designed it to do, in harmony with each and every other cell, and all of this by God’s direction.

Galatians 5:22–23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV84)

From God, that is, from the Spirit, come love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Spirit of God operates in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which move each and every member of the body into harmony with each other, that is, harmony of each and every cell working together to bring about the will of God, that is, the purpose of God. Each member of the body of God, that is, Christ, harmonizes with each and every other “cell” of Christ’s body. If Christ wants to move his body from here to there then all of the cells are called into action to bring this about. The appropriate signals are sent to the appropriate muscles and the legs move but in harmony with the movement of every other part. The heart pumps harder, the lungs breathe deeper, the eyes watch and send feedback, and so on and so on. It is the Spirit of Christ that initiates and directs and it is the body that brings it about. Please keep in mind that this is an analogy, this is a way of understanding what it means to be in God. We are clearly not literal cells, but individuals that work selflessly together to flow with the will of God.
Now, if you examine the workings of your own body, you can see that this is exactly how it works too. Your body is made of many members but it is your soul, that is, your spirit, that is, your heart, that directs your life. Understand completely that I am not talking about the blood-pump heart, but rather the true you that is spirit.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (NIV84)

You are a spirit being that has been created in the image and likeness of God. God is a spirit and so are you. You are not your body. In the exact same way that God by his Spirit directs the members of his body (cells), your spirit also gives life and meaning to your mortal parts. If your spirit was to be removed from your body, only an animal would remain.

Genesis 1:26–27
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV84)

People tend to get this passage backward. They tend to put their body as the most important part and then interpret the above passage to mean that God is like us, that is, he looks like us in the flesh, but that is the reverse of the truth. God is spirit, and we too are spirit, created in his image and likeness. God is not a human being. God doesn’t have a mortal body.
It is the spirit within you that animates the flesh. It is the spirit within you, which man calls the subconscious mind, which is the wellspring of your life. It is the spirit within you that can be connected to God in rebirth, or perhaps remains estranged from God in what the Bible calls death.
Looking back to the analogy of the cells of your body we can understand that the spirit you, the eternal you, direct your body. The cells in your body are subject to your will, that is, the essence of your being, your spirit self.
Let us examine the “will” of the cells. What ultimately controls the individual cells of your body? Each cell in your body has a life span with the exception of your nerve cells (evidently). When a cell reaches the end of its lifespan it dies and it is replaced as a function of the body, that is, by the design of God. God has designed the body in this way. Say a cell in your liver dies, it is then replaced by another single liver cell of the exact correct type and function. The “body” knows how to do this. This is how the body works and stays alive. When the body is damaged the other parts of the body work together to remove the dead cells and replace them with new living cells. This is all amazing beyond a limit.
But, what if one of the cells in your body becomes rebellious? What if it gets puffed up with pride and decides that it no longer wants to work in harmony with all of the other cells? What if it says in its heart that it can do as it wants? “I am important.” “I am my own man.” “Let no one tell me what to do.” “I want to direct my own will.” “I want to have a say in my own destiny.” Such a cell no longer obeys the “rules” that govern the whole body. It begins to multiply making more of its own kind. Say it is a liver cell. Say it starts multiplying according to its own desires and not by the plan of God. It then becomes a tumor. It has become cancer. Such rebellious or rogue cells must be removed from the body at once. If these self-important cells remain in the body the body will die. Do you understand what I am saying here? God is the Spirit by which everything must flow. God is love and as such, the law of love is the force that drives existence. We are either in harmony with the love of God or we are working against him.
Now, remember that this about the cells and God’s body and such is an analogy only. We are not mindless cells that have no will. We are God-like spirit beings that can choose. Each and every one of us spirit beings were created by God for a purpose. God has given each of us abilities and such. There are things that I can do that very few other people can do, and likewise, there are things that you can do that there is no way that I can do. I need you to do the things that I cannot do and you need me to do the same, but it goes beyond that.
My greatest pleasure is to do the things that I am good at in a way that blesses others. When I bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to another person I myself am filled with the same; filled to overflowing, and this by the power of God.
But, if I delight in evil and I take pleasure in the forbidden, if I take pleasure in doing the thing that I know that I should not do, then I am following the path of sin. If I am defined by my pleasure of sin then I am spiritually cut off from God. If I am sickened by my rebellion and come to God through Christ then I am born-again as a living member of the body of Christ through the path that God has made for us. If I feel lost and by myself, I can seek God through Christ Jesus and have the love of God inside of me.

Ephesians 2:1–10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 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. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV84)

There are two paths. You are either filled with the love of God and doing the good that God has called you to do, or you are delighted by the thrill of rebellion and as such are outside of the body of God. There are those that are inside and those that are outside. There is no other spiritual existence. There is God’s body and there is death. Death is a special word in the Bible and it means to be outside of the body of God and as such sin will eat you until there is nothing left. Only in love is there harmony, and only in harmony are there peace and love and joy eternal. By its very definition love, is the sustainer, and self-interest consumes. This is not a punishment from God; it is just the way it is. The way of life is God and the way of death is rebellion against what God has made you be. God made you to be in him. He made you be a love being. He specifically designed you to be fulfilled only in this way. Only in God will you find peace and joy and true fulfillment.

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Mark Heaney
This is my greatest desire: That the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which he has called me, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18–19


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