The Devil made me do it
Recently, the movie The Darkest Hour, captures the struggles of Winston Churchill during a small window of his critical first year as Prime Minister. Churchill appears to be the only person in his circle who seems to understand that there is such a thing as evil—and that evil will never be satisfied until it dominates – indeed destroys – all that it possesses. For evil, possession equals consumption.
In the movie, Churchill cries, “When will the lesson be learned? How many more dictators must be wooed, appeased—good God, given immense privileges—before we learn? You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth!”
I, too, ask, when will we learn the lesson that evil is real? How many Auschwitzes, how many Rwandas, how many dictators bombing their own people with poisonous gas… does humanity need to witness, to learn the lesson?
Evil is real. And not only is it real, but it is not something “out there.” We are in the battle.
“Live and let live” is the cry of our day. It is not the cry of God.
What is the cry of God? Simple. Love the Lord you God with all your heart, your soul, your strength, and love you neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:28-34)
God has given us the capacity to LOVE—and LOVE costs. Love battles to the Death with Sin. Love battles to the death with Evil.
Today, we too quickly rationalize our sins. We call them petty. We tell ourselves that our sins are not hurting others. We are wrong. Our sins matter: individually, collectively. Our sin matters to God.
Our sin also feeds Evil, and Evil has a source. We should not be surprised! Love—does it not have a source? Is the source of love not God?
Evil too, it has a source, it has a name: Satan. Satan, as the Bible tells us, is a spiritual being. A spiritual being that claimed equivalency with God. Not because Satan wanted to serve the creation. No, Satan wanted (and wants) to consume the creation. And claimed is important here… Satan does not have equivalency with God… they are not two equal / opposing forces.
When will we learn this lesson? When will we accept this reality? A world that has the capacity to LOVE, real LOVE, logically means we will have a world where Not Loving, Hate and Evil, can exist.
“What about Heaven?” people ask me. In Heaven, the creatures, that would be us, have come home. We have made our peace with God. The creatures have submitted to the God of Love. The creatures have stopped trying to be God.
Satan will never stop.
Some of you may not appreciate the next few sentences. Folks who do not believe in free-will. Folks who believe that God has ordained all. Those folks are cringing at my apparent abandonment of God’s sovereignty.
Is not God sovereign? Is not God always in control?
Certainly. Each day I awake, knowing that Genesis Chapter 3 reaches its climax on the Cross at Calvary—proclaiming God’s sovereignty. Yet each day I awake, I must decide if I will love this God, or serve my prideful love of self, at the expense of God and neighbor.
It is a battle—we are in a battle—the stakes are life and death—for the wages of sin is death—and apart from God, we lose.
In Genesis 1 and 2 we read of the good, the very good, world that God has created. It is a world of relationship. It is a world that has the capacity to LOVE.
Which means it has the capacity to NOT LOVE—enter Genesis 3.
In Genesis 3 we see Satan, the Tempter, tempt humankind.
The Tempter’s Method
Get humans to linger over the choice, let it hover in our minds.
Eve knows the answer to the serpent’s question, yet she engages in dialogue.
Most of us, when we are tempted, know… we really know, we should just walk away. Yet we, like Eve, engage in dialog with the Tempter. (verses 2-6). Will we love self-more than we love God?
Our lingering leads to desire. Note, the serpent is not on the scene. Eve is gazing upon what she logically stated a few moments earlier as something to stay away from. We, like Eve, allow desire to take hold.
Do we follow what we logically know God has asked, or succumb to the Tempter’s offer, the Tempter’s lie, that we can be like God?
Our desire, left unchallenged, gives birth to the action of living for ourselves rather than God or our neighbor.
It isn’t just that many millennia ago Adam and Eve took a bite of a piece of forbidden fruit. No, it is that humans every day do.
Multiply these choices across tribes, villages, cities, nations, AND time—and we get our world. The fancy way religious folks talk about this is, we say, we live in a “fallen” world—perhaps we should also say we live in a “falling” world.
The moment after they eat the fruit guilt appears. Is this not what we experience?
Was life better or worse after that fateful bite?
How about for us? Is life better or worse after I lose my patience and yell? Is life better or worse after I drink to excess? Is life better or worse after I…you fill in the blank.
Separation from God… which is death. Yet:
God does not abandon.
God kills animals to make clothes for the “now self-aware” humans.
God drives them from the garden, complete with temptations they cannot handle—the temptation to be like God.
God sends them into His world, so that through toil and tribulation, they, we, will finally be confronted with God’s love in the person of Jesus, and perhaps, just perhaps—we will each learn the lesson.
My brothers and sisters, the Devil does not “make us” sin. Nor does God.
We are in a deadly serious situation. A situation where God invites us to have union with Him. When we do we flourish. When we don’t, we die.
What is the solution? Jesus.